The Perks and Pitfalls of AI at Work: A Close Look

JJohn October 1, 2023 11:13 PM

Artificial Intelligence can significantly boost productivity, but it may also lead to human deskilling. This article explores recent research on the impact of AI at work, examining both the positives and negatives of AI integration.

AI enables productivity improvements

Artificial Intelligence, particularly ChatGPT, has been shown to offer significant productivity enhancements in the field of knowledge work. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) conducted a study where they utilized generative AI to determine if it could optimize their performance. The findings were promising: Consultants who used ChatGPT-4 outperformed their counterparts who didn't by a significant margin.

A key finding from the research was that AI serves as a performance equalizer. Those who initially scored lower saw a considerable performance leap (43%) when they began using AI. Top performers also saw a boost, albeit a smaller one. This suggests that AI has the potential to raise lower performers to a level closer to the top performers, helping to level the playing field.

The incorporation of AI into work processes may lead to a range of workforce implications. For instance, companies might find that they can achieve more with the same number of employees. This could translate to higher revenues. Alternatively, the increased efficiency and productivity that AI brings could also set the bar higher for performance expectations, which might result in increased stress or job dissatisfaction for some employees. In some cases, the advancement could even lead to downsizing.

AI's limitations in complex tasks

As the research indicates, AI can help people do their work more effectively and can perform many tasks. But questions remain about whether AI can manage more complex tasks that require strategic thinking and creativity. For example, the ability of AI to provide feedback on a board slide deck was tested, with mixed results. While one AI chatbot was nearly as successful as the human board, others varied in output quality. The question of whether AI could truly replace human strategic thinking and creativity remains up in the air.

Potential deskilling due to AI

Despite the positive indications of AI's impact on work, there are concerns about the potential deskilling of the human workforce. Research on job recruiters who used high-quality AI found that they became lazy and careless, with their own judgment skills deteriorating. This suggests that workers could become overdependent on AI, neglecting to exercise their own judgment. Finding a balance in the division of labor between humans and AI is crucial to prevent this possible deskilling while still maximizing the benefits of AI.

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