A top economist who studies AI says it will double productivity in the next decade: ‘You need to embrace this technology and not resist it’

Years before the rise of Open AI's ChatGPT in 2022, Erik Brynjolfsson was already exploring the implications of AI on the economy. As a professor at Stanford University and director of its Digital Economy Lab, Brynjolfsson has a unique perspective on the potential impact of AI technology. Unlike many others, Brynjolfsson believes that AI has the power to augment human workers rather than replace them, resulting in a brighter future. He emphasizes that the key lies in creating new capabilities and products through augmentation, generating more value than human-like AI alone.

In an interview with Fortune, Brynjolfsson discusses his research on how AI and machine learning will affect different occupations. He explains that while some tasks within certain occupations may be automated, there are always other tasks that require human involvement. For example, while AI may excel at reading medical images, radiologists also perform other tasks like consulting with other doctors and explaining outcomes to patients, which AI cannot replace. Therefore, roles within occupations will change significantly, but mass unemployment is not expected.

Brynjolfsson provides an example of how AI can augment rather than replace workers. In a study conducted by him and his colleagues, a company implemented a language model AI tool in its call center. Workers who had access to the tool experienced a significant increase in productivity, with the least experienced workers becoming 35% more productive within a couple of months. Customer sentiment and satisfaction also improved, leading to reduced turnover and happier employees. This shows that AI can enhance worker performance and customer interactions without replacing humans.

When it comes to the U.S. economy, Brynjolfsson predicts a coming productivity boom. He believes that AI technologies can double productivity growth in the next decade. However, he emphasizes that realizing these gains is not as simple as just acquiring the technology. It requires adjustments to business processes and rescaling. Nonetheless, doubling productivity would have a significant impact on solving many of the country's persistent problems, such as the federal budget and healthcare.

In response to concerns about data security, Brynjolfsson advises embracing AI technology rather than resisting it. While there are valid security issues that need to be addressed, he believes they are not insurmountable. Companies can take precautions such as training models locally and signing non-disclosure agreements. Brynjolfsson encourages companies to focus on maximizing the utilization of AI by their employees while implementing necessary security measures.

Brynjolfsson teaches a course called "The AI Awakening" at Stanford, and he notes that the majority of his students are interested in starting AI-focused companies. This indicates the growing entrepreneurial interest in the AI field and its potential for innovation and economic growth.  

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post