'AI stole my job and made me redundant - I've been replaced by a chatbot'

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Sharanya Bhattacharya says she lost her job as a writer to Artificial Intelligence (AI) last year (Image: Sharanya Bhattacharya / SWNS)
Sharanya Bhattacharya says she lost her job as a writer to Artificial Intelligence (AI) last year (Image: Sharanya Bhattacharya / SWNS)

Recent statistics show that a quarter of Brits worry Artificial Intelligence (AI) could endanger their jobs - but student writer Sharanya Bhattacharya already knows what that feels like.

Sharanya was working as a freelance copywriter alongside her university studies in Kolkata, India, last year, earning £190 a month in exchange for approximately 10 articles.

Then in late 2022, she noticed her workload had reduced dramatically and the demand for her articles fell by 90 percent - leaving her without a reliable and steady income for her family.

The 22-year-old said companies that used to send her work suddenly started using ChatGPT, an AI chatbot, to cut down on costs - without any explanation or warning.

'AI stole my job and made me redundant - I've been replaced by a chatbot' rriddqixxiqezinvSharanya and her mum, Bandana, relied on her £190 monthly salary to pay bills and eat (Sharanya Bhattacharya / SWNS)

"My life has become extremely uncertain. This is how I earn my living whilst also studying, I was devastated when I started receiving less and less work," she explained. "It has been really tough since the reduction in my workload - not just for me, but my family too. I can hardly make 10 percent of what I used to make." Sharanya lives with her mum, Bandana Bhattacharya, 45, who owns a business selling sarees.

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The money she earned supported them both and was used to help pay for food and bills. But since her workload has dried up, the pair have had to "cut back" drastically. "We've had to monitor how much food we consume, and we no longer do things we used to enjoy doing like going out to eat - we can only do that once every couple of months now," she said. "We've had to focus our money on the necessities, like food and bills, to make sure we can live fine."

'AI stole my job and made me redundant - I've been replaced by a chatbot'The university graduate was working as a copywriter before the company replaced her with ChatGPT (Sharanya Bhattacharya / SWNS)
'AI stole my job and made me redundant - I've been replaced by a chatbot'It has hugely impacted her mental health and she now suffers with panic attacks and anxiety (Sharanya Bhattacharya / SWNS)

Sharanya would write two or three SEO-optimised articles a week about technology and business, earning around 20,000 rupees (£190) monthly. But at the end of last year, she was being commissioned to write just one or two pieces a month. She suspects the company has replaced copywriters with cheaper ChatGPT robots to churn out articles.

Speaking about the mental suffering she's experienced after being made redundant, Sharanya said: "I have been anxious, feeling lost, having panic attacks, it has not been a very good past couple of months for me." She has been looking for other jobs but to no avail, as the job market has become extremely "cut throat" for copywriters.

Sharanya, a postgraduate biological science student at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), hopes companies will think more ethically about mass staff reductions. "I think companies should think more about cutting jobs as people have lively hoods to maintain," she said. "Also, there is a huge difference between what a human can produce and what AI can."

She added: "There are a lot of good copywriters, not just in India but around the world, that are being affected by this. Companies should just think with a more human approach when questions are asked." Despite her situation, she is hopeful that AI can be positively combined with human input. "I hope there will be a way in the future where humans can incorporate AI with their copyrighting skills to work together to yield overall, better results," she added.

Charlie Fenton

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