The CEO who replaced 90% of his support staff with AI warns that copy-paste jobs are dead

What just happened? Remember the CEO who replaced 90% of his support staff with generative AI before praising the system on what was then still Twitter? He now says that while not everyone who works in the customer service industry should worry about being replaced, the technology is “100%” going to kill off so-called copy-paste jobs.

It was in July when Suumit Shah, CEO and founder of Bengaluru, India-based Dukaan, boasted on Twitter that he had replaced 90% of his support staff, or 27 people, with the company’s in-house customer service chatbot Lina. Trained on the firm’s help center content, the ChatGPT-powered bot can answer nearly all customer questions.

Most of the anger directed at Shah had less to do with him replacing so many people and more with the way he seemed to brag about it on social media. The CEO said the “tough” but “necessary” decision had shrunk response and resolution times while reducing customer support costs by around 85%. He posted a string of tweets further praising the AI. He even compared it to Edward Morra from the movie Limitless running the entire customer support section.

In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Shah said “It was [a] no-brainer for me to replace the entire team with a bot, which is like 100 times smarter, who is instant, and who cost me like 100th of what I used to pay to the support team.”

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India and the Philippines employ millions of people in call center positions, outsourced by larger Western brands. Replacing many of these workers with cheaper generative AIs has led to fears that it could disrupt the countries’ economies. Emad Mostaque, CEO of Stability AI, believes few industries will be hit as hard as India’s outsourced coders, most of whom will see their jobs wiped out by 2025.

Shah believes not every call center job will be lost, but those positions that involve cutting and pasting responses will be made obsolete as a result of generative AI. “That job is gone,” he said. “100 percent.”

The view on AI taking jobs in the US has softened recently, with several studies concluding that the technology will augment more positions than it replaces.

IBM boss Arvind Krishna recently said the company doesn’t intend to get rid of a single programmer as a result of AI, and while some back-office HR roles are expected to be phased out, IBM is increasing the number of software engineering and sales roles over the next three to four years, with more positions being added than those erased. “The increase was like 8,000. The decrease was like 800.” Krishna said. “The first thing you can automate is a repetitive, white-collar job.”