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Can AI take away your job? MIT researchers say it’s too expensive


Every new technology in the history of mankind has caused considerable anxiety among the masses about the security of their jobs. With the advent of artificial intelligence technologies such as OpenAI‘s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, which can perform a variety of tasks with a single text prompt, these fears have become even more profound. What’s more worrying is that even the creators of these technologies, such as OpenAI’s Sam Altman, have previously suggested that the job market is unlikely to stay the same as generative AI technology improves.

Golman Sachs had previously estimated that AI could lead to the automation of around 25% of the global workforce in the coming years, while a McKinsey analysis found that nearly 50% of all work will be done by AI by 2025, TechCrunch reported. In addition, an analysis by the University of Pennsylvania, NYU and Princeton previously found that ChatGPT alone could impact nearly 80% of the workforce.

Now, a new analysis by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has analyzed not only if a job can be replaced by AI but also if it is economically feasible to automate such tasks. The 45-page study found that only 1.6% of worker wages in the US economy are capable of automation and only 23% of those tasks (0.4% of the total tasks) are feasible enough to automate. 

Talking about the potential of new age AI technology, the study noted, ““Machines will steal our jobs” is a sentiment frequently expressed during times of rapid technological change. Such anxiety has re-emerged with the creation of large language models (e.g. ChatGPT, Bard, GPT-4) that show considerable skill in tasks where previously only human beings showed proficiency”

“Computer vision, as it stands today, only has an economic advantage in 23% of vision tasks at the firm-level and barriers to AI-as-a-service deployments exist, there will most likely need to be a sharp reduction in cost for computer vision to replace human labor… Even with a 50% annual cost decrease, it will take until 2026 before half of the vision tasks have a machine economic advantage and by 2042 there will still exist tasks that are exposed to computer vision, but where human labor has the advantage.” the study stated.

On the possibility of AI job loss, the study noted, “Our findings suggest that AI job displacement will be substantial, but also gradual – and therefore there is room for policy and retraining to mitigate unemployment impacts.”


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Published: 24 Jan 2024, 10:20 AM IST


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