AI-powered work: Efficiency gains and human skills erosion

February 26, 2024

A recent study released in the Journal of the Association for Information Systems suggests that advanced computer systems are helping companies do more of their thinking and knowledge-related tasks automatically. Although this AI-powered work offers “higher efficiency and lower costs,” it impacts human skills development. 

“Cognitive automation exacerbates the erosion of human skill and expertise in automated tasks.” However, companies that accept the erosion of these mundane tasks will “reap the benefits of technology.” 

But is the erosion of “essential human expertise” problematic? The study suggests that it is, especially when workers remain accountable for tasks for which they “lack sufficient understanding, rendering them incapable of responding if the automation fails.”

AI is still in the early childhood phase

A study released this month by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University found that most US workers (7/10) say they are very or somewhat concerned about employers using artificial intelligence. About three in 10 workers are believed to fear AI would eliminate their jobs. 

The study was conducted on more than a thousand adults, including over 700 workers.

According to Carl Van Horn, professor of public policy, it’s a give and take. “As with other major technological changes, generative AI will create opportunities for some and heartbreak for others.” This could harm some sectors, as graduates with at least one formal education degree want safeguards to protect them from unemployment.

Just last month, at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman even warned that AI is a  “clearly very powerful” technology that could easily have “massive effects on the world.” He admits it could be for the world’s betterment, but “it could go very wrong.” 

He warns that it’s essential to make space for debates around how to make AI safe. 

Locate2u 2/26/24

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