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How to Overcome AI Anxiety as a Freelancer

Table of ContentsUpdated May 31, 2024

Debates about Artificial Intelligence (AI) have seemingly been on repeat for a while now, with businesses finding themselves in an echo chamber about AI’s potential for innovation and efficiency rather than its threat as a disruptor or destroyer of jobs.

Freelancers, while no stranger to the discussions, have found a need to embrace and adopt AI in all its permutations, as more organizations buy into the benefits of the technology. Furthermore, with the increasing uptake of AI making an impression on so many industries, utilizing AI tools now ranks as one of the most in-demand freelance niches.

From automating routine administrative tasks to aiding decision-making processes, AI has, therefore, become something of a staple in modern workplaces. But, with the tools evolving so fast, freelancers in certain roles can be excused for feeling some pressure to adapt and become proficient in AI’s capabilities.

In the midst of the transformation, and perhaps in less tech-oriented sectors, some freelancers might find themselves grappling with uncertainty and anxiety about AI’s continued widespread adoption. This article explores how freelancers can navigate and reframe their fears of AI with a new mindset.

ai anxiety as a freelancer

The emergence of AI

Despite the existence of AI and automation in multiple industries, many businesses only really began to identify and implement AI tools on a large scale in recent years. Today, more than one in five U.S. businesses have implemented the technology, with one in three adopting it in specific areas of their business operations. The main divisions within businesses where AI is being utilized, include:

  • to improve business operations
  • to strengthen incident response services and fraud management
  • to support administrative and routine tasks via digital personal assistants
  • for customer relationship management
  • to optimize inventory management
  • to improve and create quality content production
  • to streamline accounting programs and supply chain operations
  • for recruitment and talent sourcing

With this high level of AI implementation and usage across industries, it’s not surprising that employers and freelancers feel the necessity to become familiar with emerging technologies, identifying where they might be able to implement AI now and in the future. Similarly, leaders remain keen to recognize areas of the business that can benefit and how their staff might use AI for greater efficiency and productivity.

While it is true that generative AI has been embraced by businesses thanks to its capability to boost efficiency and productivity, it’s key that freelancers feel reassured, rather than threatened, that AI can enhance their role instead of being the technology that is there to replace, disrupt or end their freelance services altogether. Instead, freelancers can overcome these concerns and harness AI’s potential to transform your freelance career. Employers and freelancers alike can identify why someone may feel uneasy about AI’s influence, and tackle anxieties with proactive personal development plans and positive learning to fast track AI uptake.

Understanding the roots of AI anxiety

In some ways, the uncertainty of AI mirrors that of climate change; in the same way people worry about the impact that global warming has on the planet, the future position and power to control AI seems difficult to predict or control. Likewise, freelancers may fear the security concerns of generative AI, not to mention the alarming lack of awareness and understanding about how this technology might evolve in decades to come.

AI anxiety often stems from various sources, including fear and misperceptions spread across the media. There are real ethical and moral concerns raised by the rapid adoption of AI and these can be addressed by freelancers and their employers as they arise. AI programs have been studied to propagate biases, misinformation and false narratives which have socio-political implications. With such a lack of regulation around AI content’s proliferation, it’s easy for susceptible and impressionable readers to take words as gospel, and further spew dangerous discourse.

Adapting to new technologies and replacing established workflows doesn’t come naturally to everybody, so many freelancers may continue to be resistant to widespread changes. Not only this, but AI’s complexities are not easy to understand, even for subject and industry experts, leading to misconceptions, misjudgments, and apprehensions about its potential.

All of these concerns can collectively contribute to increased feelings of anxiety and nervousness. However, by acknowledging them and addressing them proactively, freelance environments and organizations everywhere can create a more productive and inclusive environment that feeds off AI’s benefits.

How freelancers can thrive in the age of AI

1. Foster communication and transparency

Open communication is key to alleviating AI worries. Encourage open dialogue within your coworkers, business contacts and other freelancers in your team, providing opportunities to share concerns about your job being replaced and seek clarification as well as reassurance.

2. Focus on Education and training

Educating teams about ways to leverage AI ethically and non-threateningly is an effective way to combat AI fears. Provide training resources and opportunities to learn about AI, its applications and its potential impact in a role. Consider enrolling in workshops or training sessions to demystify AI, and encourage supervised use of AI in helpful ways to each person’s role.

3. Realize the human-AI connection

AI is not designed to replace human workers but rather to augment and enhance their capabilities. AI can take on repetitive, time-intensive, and arduous tasks like data entry, administration, and base-level customer enquiries, while freelancers can then be entrusted to focus on more strategic, creative, and impactful work like outreach.

4. Address ethical, privacy and security concerns

Companies can address the ethical and privacy concerns of AI by implementing clear and stringent data governance policies that outline exactly how data is collected, used, and secured. Professionals in this sector can rest assured that organizations that take data protection seriously will uphold this for statutory and regulatory compliance.

5. Highlight the benefits of AI for freelancers

Showcase examples of how AI is already making a positive difference. Recent reports argue that there are more opportunities (and earnings) for freelancers since the uptake of AI across industries. Emphasize how AI solutions are augmenting teams, improving productivity, and enhancing service delivery.

Freelancers who are skilled at everything from graphic design, SEO optimisation, video production and any roles that require automating or nurturing repetitive tasks. AI is reshaping industries in ways that benefit freelancers with businesses eager to recruit those with AI tech skills. While it’s easy to feel nervous and uneasy about AI, the new opportunities and avenues it will unlock are extraordinary for freelancers.

With this in mind, it’s important to remember that AI is a tool that lacks all the complexities of the human brain. It is not designed to supplant human skills but supplement them, freeing you up to focus on more productive areas. Keep the conversation going with thousands of like minded freelancers having daily conversations about AI. Join our free Facebook group and keep talking.

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Written by Annie Button

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Based in the UK, Annie Button is a freelance writer specializing in digital marketing, sustainability, lifestyle features and business development.

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Reviewed & edited by Preston Lee, Editor at Millo.

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