It looks like AI will negatively impact mid-career, mid-ability white-collar workers the most.
“Mediocrity will be automated.”
Well there is always that meat packing job in Minnesota or a Uber, Lyft driver opportunity.
It is going to be harder to be a slacker while working for the man.
That was the verdict a top tech executive shared with me recently, describing the impact he predicted AI would have on the workforce. And while the phrasing might seem a bit harsh, there’s growing evidence that he might be on to something.
Academics Erik Brynjolfsson, Lindsey R. Raymond, and Danielle Li recently studied the impact of access to an AI-based conversational assistant on almost 5,200 customer support agents at a Fortune 500 software company. The trio found that the tool helped increase productivity by 14%. And critically, it was novice workers who benefited most.
“In contrast to studies of prior waves of computerization, we find that these gains accrue disproportionately to less-experienced and lower-skill workers,” read their academic paper. “We argue that this occurs because ML systems work by capturing and disseminating the patterns of behavior that characterize the most productive agents.”
Seems kinda intuitive, doesn’t it?
If you’re an untrained developer or customer support agent who doesn’t know the names of your company’s products or doesn’t know how to iterate through a HashMap object array in Java, you spend most of your working hours searching your company’s internal FAQ pages or internal WIKI or StackExchange for cross-reference information or short code examples to refresh your memory. That’s ideal work to feed into an “AI” that can eliminate an extra 2-3 minutes of finding the right result for those types of searches to complete the original task.
That still doesn’t mean the AI is capable of improving productivity or accuracy for work further along the skill / abstraction curve which requires the ability to integrate more background and properly interpret subtleties in the “ask” to select the most appropriate pieces of knowledge into a more coherent final design / decision / solution.
As I’ve said before though, that doesn’t mean Corporate America won’t TRY to use this technology to squeeze more productivity out of workers that are neither respected by management or understood by management (engineers, accountants, auditors…). Of course, I wonder how long it will take before management outsources some of its soft decision making to AI. Could an AI have eliminated the New Coke disaster? Avoided the 2008 CDO meltdown? The Bud Light vanity can calamity? The flawed stock sale plan timing that resulted in the meltdown of Silicon Valley Bank?
To err is to program… To screw up to the tune of billions / trillions? Ahhh, that’s management.
A CEO is always going to think he knows more than any computer, or anyone else, and many (most?) will demand that everyone line up behind him, regardless what AI, or any other sort of data, says. After all, if anyone else, or any piece of data, is better than what the CEO thinks, that how to justify the tens of millions per year that the CEO stuffs in his pocket.
Huge amounts of this are hype.
Look at it this way, FTX we know totally doomed. All of you said no way I’d own any BTC. Meanwhile tens of billions of dollars and hype and then poof.
AI is being bought by corporate America right now. More than buy AI corporations are buying hardware to run AI etc…all of it purchases of tech. The tech industry will say anything and everything in support.
Most of what we are reading is fabricated. It is hype. And just like FTX there will be major corporate failings before what is real about AI and most of it that is fakery about AI is figured out. CEOs are risking their companies right now on not much.
Bye-bye to all the corporate vice-presidents… LOTS of “cash saved”.
A snippet from Goof’s WaPo news article
Experts say that even advanced AI doesn’t match the writing skills of a human: It lacks personal voice and style, and it often churns out wrong, nonsensical or biased answers. But for many companies, the cost-cutting is worth a drop in quality.
My comment! Do you know how to treat a reporter? When you are in business you treat reporters like a mushroom. You keep them in the dark and feed them bull blank.
That line above which was not really the journalists own thought going into writing the article was planted by a tech executive as a fact. It is wonderful how many F 500 executives cant understand fact from fiction.
Sounds like most of the honchos I worked for over the years. You are right, they can be replaced by AI!
WaPo says writers are getting chopped first. One woman saw the “writing” on the wall when Management started refering to her as “Olivia/ChatGPT”.
She’s now a dog walker.
The independent trades will prevail!
“Harry Tuttle, heating engineer at your service.”
Ok, you win the Internet for the day by posting a link about Tuttle!
(Excellent movie by the way!)
One would think competent workers would be able to demand higher salaries.
But what happens when the succeeding boomer generation is smaller and more demands are made of them? What happens if they opt out?
Paul Terhorst & intercst left the workforce in their 30’s. They had enough screw U money. They could embrace Johnny Paycheck’s “Take this job and Shove it”.
Will the reins of a corporation be turned over to AI? Would AI pursue Welchism" Or focus on long term results rather than quarterly results? Are CEO’s replaceable? Would corporate malfeasance be less under AI leadership?
For all the layoffs etc…and all the AI…there are a lot of openings and better pay very often.
To demand side economics…good times.
Johnny Paycheck was enjoying the last largess of demand side econ at the tail end.