The job market in Southeast Asia is rapidly evolving, and the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) looks set to significantly impact how people work. As companies increasingly turn to AI-powered productivity tools such as ChatGPT to increase efficiency, many workers are understandably worried about the potential impact on their jobs. However, while AI undoubtedly presents challenges for workers in specific industries, there is also reason to be optimistic about the future of its usage in Southeast Asia.

As the region continues to face a talent crunch, particularly in the technology sector, many startups have to look at ways to bridge the gap between growing their company and the lack of employees with the necessary skills to do so. Using technology and automation to speed up processes and free up human work time is one way to counteract the staffing deficit. 

Document summarisation and AI

Automated document summarisation tools, such as the one offered by QuillBot, is one area where AI has already had a significant impact. This latest technology uses natural language processing algorithms to analyse and summarise large volumes of text quickly and accurately.

In industries such as finance, law, and journalism, where workers are often required to read and analyse large volumes of information, this technology is proving to be a game-changer. By automating the process of summarising documents, workers can save time and focus on other tasks that require human input. 

Malaysian-based AI startup Vox recently received USD 250 thousand in pre-seed round funding to help support its platform. The new offering can generate natural language summaries from complex documents, claiming to save ten times the reading time of human resources. 

Artificial intelligence tools

In addition to document summarisation, rapidly evolving AI-powered productivity tools are shaping the future of work in Southeast Asia. These tools use machine learning algorithms to automate repetitive tasks and streamline workflows, making workers more productive and efficient. For example, virtual assistant bots such as Kronologic can help workers manage their schedules, prioritise tasks, and even send emails and messages. These products save time but free workers to focus on more complex and strategic jobs.

Using tools such as genei to speed up research, Mem for meeting note-taking, or Otter for transcribing voice recordings can all help to speed up tasks and provide easy-to-use text documents for sharing. Tools for creating content, including the newly launched GrammarlyGO writing component, can draft articles, white papers and various other documents much faster than a human can. This article’s outline was created using the new Grammarly function and edited through the traditional application, allowing the writer to complete this task in half the time generally taken on such articles. 

Concerns for the job market

Of course, there are also challenges associated with the rise of AI in the workplace. One of the biggest challenges is the potential for job displacement. Goldman Sachs recently released a report stating that up to 300 million jobs could be lost due to the implementation of the technology. As these tools become more sophisticated, they may be able to perform tasks that humans previously did. This move to automation and tech-based tools could lead to job losses in specific industries, particularly those that rely heavily on manual labour or routine tasks.

While some workers may be worried about the impact of the new technology on their jobs, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of work in Southeast Asia. For one, AI creates new opportunities for workers in industries such as data analysis, software development, and machine learning. These industries will likely see significant growth in the coming years, and workers with the right skills and training will be in high demand.

Furthermore, artificial intelligence tools also offer new opportunities for workers to upskill and reskill. As AI-powered tools become more prevalent in the workplace, workers must develop new skills, particularly in data analysis, programming, and machine learning. This need for upskilling allows workers to take advantage of new training programs and educational resources to improve their skills and stay competitive in the job market.

To mitigate any potential risks of AI on the job market, policymakers and business leaders must work together to create new opportunities for workers. Investing in education and training programs to help workers develop new skills and create new industries and job opportunities in emerging fields such as AI development and data analysis is crucial for the economies in the ASEAN region. 

While there are challenges associated with adopting AI-powered productivity tools, there is also reason to be optimistic about the future of work in the region. By embracing new technologies and investing in education and training programs, there is an opportunity to create a more productive, efficient, and equitable job market that benefits all workers.