AI Takes Over: Indian Student's Income Plummets 90% After ChatGPT Emerges

Sharanya Battacharya, a ghostwriter and copywriter, earned around Rs 1900 a month from SEO-optimized articles before ChatGPT took over. By late 2022, her workload decreased to writing only one or two articles, as companies shifted to AI.

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It's no secret that the AI revolution has arrived, and it's sparked a debate about whether it's a blessing or a curse for humans. A 22-year-old student from Kolkata has recounted her struggle as another example of the loss of income that many people around the world are experiencing as a result of AI.

While obtaining her degree, Sharanya Battacharya worked as a ghostwriter and copywriter for a creative solutions agency, picking up a few SEO-optimized pieces each week and earning slightly over Rs 19,000 a month. That is, up until November of last year, when ChatGPT entered the scene. Sharanya claimed that by the end of 2022, the businesses that had previously hired her to write for them had started to rely on AI, and she was eventually only writing one or two articles per month.

She claims the corporations provided ‘no explanation’ for the absence of employment, but she believes the introduction of ChatGPT was done to save money. "It's been really difficult since my workload was reduced — not just for me, but also for my family. I'm only making 10% of what I used to."

The student's income provides for both herself and her 45-year-old mother Bandana, who works as a saree salesperson. The mother and daughter duo suddenly had to "cut back" on living expenditures as the income flow decreased, which has "been extremely rough."

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Bhattacharya, a postgraduate biologic science student at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, stated, "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. To ensure that we could live comfortably, we've had to focus our money on the necessities, like food and bills." Her life is currently "extremely uncertain" because she could lose her job in the "cutthroat" market for copywriters.

She stated, “I was heartbroken when I started getting less and less work because this is how I make a living while also going to school, she said. It has not been a good couple of months for me; I have been anxious, lost, and getting panic attacks.” She has called on businesses to take into account those who would be impacted by widespread layoffs, emphasizing the "huge difference" between human-produced labor and AI-generated material. “Many talented copywriters are impacted by this, not just in India but all across the world”, she claimed.

She added, “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.”

Bhattacharya, who is 22 years old, is not the only person protesting against AI. Employees at Adobe are said to have expressed concerns about the firm's design tools earlier this month, worried that the use of AI would lead to job losses. Their worry is in response to a research released in June by the consulting firm McKinsey, which claimed that the adoption of artificial intelligence in the workplace would lead to a change in the nature of jobs, particularly for "higher-wage knowledge workers."