Nearly half of CEOs believe AI could replace their own jobs, says new poll—and 47% say that's a good thing

Source: edX

Could artificial intelligence take over your boss' job? What about yours?

Nearly half of CEOs — 49% — say AI could effectively replace "most," or even "all," of their own roles, and 47% say it might even be a good thing, according to a survey from online education platform edX. The poll, published on Tuesday, surveyed 1,600 full-time U.S. workers, including 800 C-suite executives and CEOs, as well as 800 non-executive workers.

That represents "a very enlightened view," says edX founder Anant Agarwal, who now serves as chief platform officer of edX's parent business, 2U. Agarwal is also a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and has served on the CNBC Technology Executive Council Advisory Board.

"It is clear that a majority [of executives] think that AI is going to be transformative," he tells CNBC Make It. "I don't think it's a flash in the pan. People believe this is big, and this is probably bigger than the internet."

During Agarwal's tenure as CEO of edX, he spent nearly 80% of his time on "mundane" tasks like "reports and repeated presentations, or saying the same thing to a lot of people in different ways," he says.

AI could replace many of those rote tasks. It could also tackle other CEO responsibilities, like analyzing market data and brainstorming ways to improve a business' operations, some experts say.

It'll be harder for AI to replicate many of the "soft skills" that define a good CEO, like "critical thinking, vision, creativity, teamwork, collaboration, inspiring people, being able to listen and see," says Agarwal.

That means human bosses will almost certainly keep existing, but their jobs may soon look radically different. Delegating those mundane tasks could help CEOs focus on "the things that make them CEOs ... vision and dreaming about new products and selling," Agarwal says.

Workers may face a rude awakening soon

CEOs aren't the only ones whose responsibilities are under an AI microscope. On average, the C-suite executives surveyed by edX said 49% of the skills that exist in their current workforce won't be relevant by 2025, and 47% of their workers aren't prepared for the future of work.

The non-executive workers in the survey had a different outlook: Only 20% of them said they believed AI could replace "most" or "all" of their jobs. But the executives noted that they're already trying to hire new workers with AI skills, with 87% saying they're struggling to find such employees right now.

In July, CNBC Make It reported that U.S. employers seeking AI skills were on the rise, and that the average role paid more than $146,000. But only 24% of workers told edX that they're learning new AI skills at their current jobs, and 39% said they'd likely quit their job within the next year to find one with more AI learning opportunities.

Notably, 62% of Gen Z respondents said they're learning new AI skills to get a leg up on their colleagues, according to the survey. The strategy might just work, says Agarwal.

"I wouldn't fear AI taking away my job. But, frankly, I would fear other workers who upskill in AI faster than I can ... taking away my job," he says.

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