The Impact of AI on the Workforce: A Double-Edged Sword

JJohn July 22, 2023 5:01 PM

The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) tools was expected to streamline tasks and improve workplace efficiency. Yet, many workers argue the opposite, saying these tools have increased their workload and created issues in different sectors.

AI tools increase workload in publishing

In an attempt to harness the benefits of AI, Neil Clarke, a publisher and editor, introduced AI tools to his science fiction and fantasy magazine, Clarkesworld. Instead of streamlining processes, the magazine was flooded with a high volume of AI-generated submissions, dramatically increasing the team's workload. Clarke cited the issue as not being the quality but the quantity of submissions, which became overwhelming.

Prominent figures in the tech world, including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, have lauded the potential of AI to boost productivity and even create new jobs. However, the impacts of AI aren't uniform across different industries and markets. The long-term effects are often unclear and can be fraught with unintended consequences, such as an increase in workloads in some sectors.

AI boosts productivity in white-collar jobs

A recent study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) noted that AI can indeed increase productivity, especially in white-collar jobs. Tasks such as drafting cover letters and delicate emails, among others, could be enhanced with AI. However, the researchers cautioned that it's still too early to determine if the overall impact of AI on society will be positive or negative.

AI implementation can increase work intensity

Ivana Saula, the research director for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, explained that the introduction of AI-powered tools often results in additional tasks for humans. According to Saula, there are tasks that machines simply cannot perform, thus increasing the workload and intensity for the human workforce. Saula emphasized the importance of involving workers in the implementation process to ensure that the rollout of new AI tools is smooth.

The media industry is a prime example of the benefits and pitfalls of AI. While these tools can speed up aspects like copywriting and editorial work, their use has led to significant errors. News outlets like CNET and Gizmodo had to issue substantial corrections after experimenting with AI-written stories, highlighting the technology's potential for error.

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