In a recent study conducted by MIT CSAIL, MIT Sloan, The Productivity Institute, and IBM’s Institute for Business Value, researchers explored the economic viability of replacing human workers with AI.
The findings suggest that, despite the capabilities of AI, the high costs associated with its development make it less attractive for companies to automate certain tasks. The study specifically focused on tasks that could be accomplished through computer vision, utilizing AI to analyze visual inputs. The researchers examined the technical requirements, characteristics, and economic feasibility of deploying AI models compared to human workers.
The study highlighted that, in many instances, it remains more cost-effective for companies to continue using human labor for these tasks instead of investing in AI automation. For example, a small bakery could theoretically save on labor costs by deploying an AI system to monitor baking ingredients. However, the study revealed that the costs of developing and training an AI model would outweigh the potential savings, making human workers more economically viable.
Neil Thompson, the principal investigator at MIT CSAIL and the Initiative on the Digital Economy, emphasized that the integration of AI into various sectors is likely to be gradual, with a slow replacement of human workers. While the study suggests that AI development costs may decrease in the future, a widespread deployment of AI on a broad level is expected to take several years.
It's acknowledged that AI will have an impact on the job market, leading to changes in job responsibilities and potential job losses in the short run. However, the study emphasizes the need to contextualize AI's current stage of development, considering it's on a steep improvement curve. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman also highlighted the ongoing advancements in AI technology, noting that current models are considered the least sophisticated they will ever be.
Despite the potential disruptions, Altman remains optimistic about the future of AI, stressing that humans will continue to find new problems to solve and ways to contribute to each other's fulfillment. While AI may transform certain aspects of the job market, the study underscores the importance of recognizing the evolving nature of AI technology and its ongoing impact on various industries.