US researchers recently found that artificial intelligence (AI) could leave freelance workers with no job unless governments step in. Another study found that productivity increases when AI is used to help instead of replace workers like Elon Musk predicted.
The first study found that the job losses were not better for freelance workers with a higher level of skills. If anything, these workers were the most likely to suffer.
AI Appears to Complement Workers
A separate study carried out by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that workers who used OpenAI’s GPT-4 artificial intelligence model for certain tasks were more productive than those who didn’t. However, these consultants were worse off when given tasks needing more subtle judgment.
Some who used AI to refine results or perform specific tasks while they focused on their areas of competence bucked this trend. The study showed AI worked best when BCG used it to supplement consultants’ skill sets.
Overall, the studies seem to suggest that freelance workers require more labor protection. Also, AI tools should be used to complement, not replace human work. Rights groups and trade unions opposed UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s AI summit for ignoring AI’s threat to workers.
A recent executive order from US President Joe Biden nonbinding asks AI companies to study how models like GPT-4 will impact labor markets. The administration also asks companies to mull ways the federal government can support disruptions to labor from AI.
But Elon Said AI Will Take Over
The studies’ findings challenged statements billionaire Elon Musk made to Sunak at the UK’s high-profile AI summit last week. Musk envisions AI will occupy the labor force such that there “will come a point where no job is needed.”
“You can have a job if you want a job… but AI will be able to do everything,” Musk said.
His statements should not be surprising, given that the tech billionaire recently founded an AI company pursuing artificial general intelligence (AGI), a field many consider the ultimate goal of all of AI endeavors. Essentially, AGI is AI with human-level sentience.
Read more: The 6 Hottest Artificial Intelligence (AI) Jobs in 2023
But the more immediate AI threat is what concerns knowledge workers. It is still unknown how AI labor will impact monetary policy since wage growth and maximum employment are key data points the Fed uses when deciding whether to tighten or loosen monetary policy.
If AI takes over more jobs without new participants entering the market, unemployment will rise, but jobs and positions may reach parity. However, the rate at which unemployment rises will depend on how the government deals with labor disruptions.
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