IBM to freeze hiring as CEO expects AI to replace 7,800 jobs

CEO Arvind Krishna says 30 percent of non-customer-facing roles could be axed in the next five years.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has said that he expects AI to replace about 7,800 jobs at the company in the coming years [File: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters]

IBM will freeze hiring as it expects about 7,800 jobs to be replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the coming years, the tech giant’s CEO has said.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said he could “easily see” nearly one-third of the company’s non-customer-facing roles being replaced in the next five years.

“These non-customer-facing roles amount to roughly 26,000 workers,” Krishna said in the interview published on Tuesday. “I could easily see 30 percent of that getting replaced by AI and automation over a five-year period.”

Back-office employees are only a small portion of IBM’s 260,000 or so workers and the company, based in Armonk, New York, has continued to fill roles even after letting go of about 5,000 workers in other areas, according to Bloomberg.

IBM did not immediately respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment. An IBM spokesperson told the AFP there was no blanket hiring pause in place but that the firm was being “very selective when filling jobs that don’t directly touch our clients or technology”.

Krishna’s comments come as the rapid advancement of AI-power technology, including OpenAI’s ChatGPT, raises the possibility of huge disruption to numerous industries.

Some analysts fear that AI could soon lead to mass layoffs, while others argue the technology’s ability to improve productivity and complement human workers will create jobs and whole new industries.

On Tuesday, the share price of Chegg, a California-based learning company, plunged by nearly 50 percent after its CEO Dan Rosensweig acknowledged on an earnings call that ChatGPT was “having an impact on our new customer growth rate”.

Source: News Agencies