“In every previous automation threat, the automation was about automating the hard, dirty, repetitive jobs,” said Ethan Mollick, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. “This time, the automation threat is aimed squarely at the highest-earning, most creative jobs that … require the most educational background.”
In March, Goldman Sachs predicted that 18 percent of work worldwide could be automated by AI, with white-collar workers such as lawyers at more risk than those in trades such as construction or maintenance. “Occupations for which a significant share of workers’ time is spent outdoors or performing physical labor cannot be automated by AI,” the report said.
Companies that replaced workers with chatbots have faced high-profile stumbles. When the technology news site CNET used artificial intelligence to write articles, the results were riddled with errors and resulted in lengthy corrections. A lawyer who relied on ChatGPT for a legal brief cited numerous fictitious cases. And the National Eating Disorders Association, which laid off people staffing its helpline and reportedly replaced them with a chatbot, suspended its use of the technology after it doled out insensitive and harmful advice.
Roberts said that chatbots can produce costly errors and that companies rushing to incorporate ChatGPT into operations are “jumping the gun.” Since they work by predicting the most statistically likely word in a sentence, they churn out average content by design. That provides companies with a tough decision, she said: quality vs. cost.
“We have to ask: Is a facsimile good enough? Is imitation good enough? Is that all we care about?” she said. “We’re going to lower the measure of quality, and to what end? So the company owners and shareholders can take a bigger piece of the pie?” —Washington Post
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