👍👍👍👍👍When AI is your assistant | The Financial Express

lipped from: https://www.financialexpress.com/opinion/when-ai-is-your-assistant/3061012/

Generative AI won’t replace humans. Rather, humans who use AI will replace humans who do not.

artificial intelligence, technologyThere is no denying that technological progress has deep consequences for skills, wages, and jobs. (IE)

In his book A Farewell to Alms, economist Gregory Clark posed a dramatic question: Can you name the type of employee whose job was the first to be affected by technology? The answer was simple: The horse.

In 1901, 3.25 million were at work. By 1924, there were fewer than 2 million working horses left. There was always a wage at which all these horses could have remained employed. But that wage became so low that it did not pay for their feed.

We have covered a long distance from the days of Industrial Revolution that Clark was referring to. The changes have been rapid and swift, leading us to the days of generative artificial intelligence (AI) which has become the latest buzzword. But what hasn’t changed is the widespread concern over “technological unemployment”—a phrase coined by John Maynard Keynes, who in 1930 had talked about a “new disease”, which is the inability of the economy to create new jobs faster than jobs lost to automation.

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The latest debate has been sparked by Goldman Sachs, whose research says generative AI systems such as ChatGPT could lead to the automation of a quarter of the work done in the US and Eurozone. What that means is a “significant disruption” to the labour market, exposing the equivalent of 300 million full-time workers across economies to automation.

Technological unemployment has always been perceived to be a threat for jobs, but the difference this time around is that while blue-collar workers bore the brunt of the impact in previous waves of technological advancements, white-collar workers look set to be more heavily displaced this time around. A paper by OpenAI, the creator of GPT-4, added fuel to the fire by saying it found that 80% of the workforce could see at least 10% of their tasks performed by generative AI, based on analysis by human researchers and the company’s machine large language model. Even Bill Gates said in a recent blog post, “In the future, ChatGPT will be like having a white-collar worker available to assist you with various tasks.”

There is no denying that technological progress has deep consequences for skills, wages, and jobs. Faster, cheaper computers and increasingly clever software are giving machines capabilities that were once thought to be distinctively human—like understanding speech, translating from one language to another and recognising patterns. So, automation is rapidly moving beyond factories to areas that provide most jobs in the economy.

It is difficult to predict how exactly things would turn out in the future, but many argue that AI depends on human intelligence and does not replace it. It rather augments it, as computers have done so far. In low-skill and intellectually unchallenging jobs such as secretaries etc, technological unemployment comes into play, but it is equally true that many current occupations will thrive and new ones will be created. Rather than viewing generative AI and other machine-learning software as a threat, people should embrace new technology as a way to free them from repetitive tasks.

So, what is the future of work after generative AI? Erol Toker, founder and CEO of Truly, a hyperautomation platform built for revenue teams, says in a piece for Fast Company, that the first step to integrating AI into your workplace is to understand its limitations. “After being fed billions of data points, AI has the theoretical intelligence of an adult, but the real-life judgment of a two-year old. Meaning, it’s very good at following instructions, but terrible at knowing when or if they are the right thing to do,” he says.

For instance, AI lacks common sense reasoning and understanding of context. It can struggle with tasks that require a basic human-level understanding of everyday situations. Moreover, it cannot easily automate soft skills like empathy, social intelligence, and relationship building. Additionally, AI systems can be biased or limited by the data they are trained on. This can lead to inaccurate or unfair outcomes, which is why human oversight is necessary to ensure fairness and accuracy.

Basically, generative AI today can only be trusted to take on very well-defined activities. And that, only with a robust, custom framework to guide it and review any content before it’s deployed. But if you’re a CEO hoping that AI will replace the thinking of your best employee, that’s unlikely to happen any time soon.

AI won’t replace most jobs. But by taking on tasks that are not mentally demanding yet highly time consuming, it could free up time in an employee’s day to do everything that AI can’t do—things that require high-level human insight, empathy, and critical thinking.

For example, generative AI can summarise a legal document in seconds with incredible accuracy, while a paralegal might spend hours on the same task. But its true strength lies in augmenting—rather than replacing—the work of employees.

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AI can help humans amplify their skills in many other ways. For example, a graphic designer who draws a comic book could use AI-powered design tools to turn that comic book into a 3D production, and he doesn’t have to know 3D modelling, camera movement, blending, or motion capture. AI now enables just one person to perform all of the virtual production elements. So, generative AI is expected to unlock human potential to do tasks differently and do different, higher-value tasks.

Consider how oncologists have used machine learning, trained on significant volumes of specific data and images, to exponentially increase the accuracy of cancer detection, not by replacing skills but by augmenting capabilities and increasing the premium on experience and expertise.

The bottom line is that productivity will undoubtedly receive a boost—as bots are increasingly able to perform repetitive and time-consuming tasks with human-level speed and accuracy. In short, generative AI won’t replace humans. Rather, humans who use AI will replace humans who do not.

shyamal.majumdar@expressindia.com

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