11 Comments
Aug 11Liked by Alex Kantrowitz

As a software engineer and immigrant who learned English in my early 20s, I clearly understand AI as an enhancement to my coding and language skills: proofreading, writing unit tests and writing technical documentation, and more!

I fully experience the sentiment of the article: it makes me more productive and creative, it clearly does not take my job away.

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I'm usually a tech-evolution skeptic (including a right-but-wrong miss on bitcoin when it was still a group of nerds arguing on IRC!), but I take the opposite view. For people who have a machine learning background, especially those who have observed the performance of reinforcement learning in other areas, the potential of AI to radically improve is jaw dropping and a bit terrifying.

Saying anything like "eight months after the release of ChatGPT..." as a measure of the impact of AI is just too demanding. Even if the tech wasn't still nascent, organizational wheels will spin slowly. These questions turn on 5 to 15 years. The obvious analogy is to the rise of the Internet. Did Amazon eventually squelch lots of bookstores? Yes. But not in 1983.

Alex, please contact me: I'll bet you an overpriced coffee that I can change your mind in 30 minutes.

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That's a misleading conclusion. AI might not result in people being fired, but it is preventing new hires which has the same result in lost in jobs. Those same law firms you cite are cutting back on hiring, so jobs are being lost in ways that we aren't used to measuring. That's on purpose, as companies avoid the backlash from firing people for AI but still want the benefits.

A better approach would be determining whether AI will reduce in fewer jobs next year and the year after, rather than today.

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AI was announced by the big techs with the storm of a hurricane but its hype is yet to match what humans do. Though AI is productive and time-saving in traits, it is not context-specific. Rather it is inflexible in light of the dynamism of the changing circumstances.

Alex, I wrote about AI. May be you can check and invite me to be your guest writer and delve into AI with a different perspective. Check

https://open.substack.com/pub/thestartupfromafrica/p/with-the-proliferation-of-artificial?r=m5mq1&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

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While I do agree that the apocalyptic predictions made when any new disruptive tech comes into popular usage, are generally hyperbolic / exaggerated, but isnt 8months too short a time frame to guage the impact of this tech on jobs / roles etc?

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AI needs humans. It's not the way around. You can have AI responding with multiple answers, but in the end, it is always the humans who 'check' if the content is useful or not.

The present challenge is: responses by AI are becoming more and more convincing, and it is becoming ever more difficult to find the errors. Hallucination was, and still is, an intrinsic problem of AI.

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Chat GPT makes my job and life better

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I believe it is a little early to understand the real impact of AI on jobs. The questions that need to be asked:

1. Are the companies that have adapted AI at a scale still hiring at the same rate compare to previous years including the additional hires based on more demand of their products and services or would they have hired more employees without AI adaptation?

2. Are they planning to hire at the same scale including additional demand in 7-10 years?

3. Are they more productive which is causing other businesses in the same industry to hire less who have not adopted AI since more work is done by companies adopting AI?

I believe we have to look at the industry level to see the real impact and not at individual company level and that too we need to wait 3-5 years to see the full impact. As in some cases, AI companies may introduce services that may require us as a customer to use less professional and other services. I have seen over the years that when productivity increases in an industry work need to increase at the same rate for employment to stay constant. There is eventually a finite work unless you can create demand for services in proportion to growth otherwise someone losses for someone to gain. Population increase is one way to increase demand but with most of the world population growth slowing down we do not know how it will impact the work with AI being in the mix and on overall employment.

The professions with shortages of qualified individuals one you mentioned doctors I think AI will definitely help them do more and improve overall patient care but again we do not know how it will impact in the long run as AI will learn by more usage? would it will replace most doctors real job of diagnosing patients and make them more involved in the emotional care? but there will be a push back as stated in the below example when doctors think that it will take their job and also there is a component of willing to learn new technologies as mentioned in the below article :

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/08/10/ai-chatbots-hospital-technology/

As it will take time for AI to improve to human scale, it will make mistakes and what will be reaction in those cases. Slow down or stop using it? And also AI models/algorithms improvement may slow down due, hardware need to run models may become so large that it may lead to another AI winter.

We need to see the adaptation of Personal Computers, internet and other technologies of the past for adoption speed and their impact on jobs for better examples.

To summarize, the hype of a new technology and its usage and impact on jobs move at different pace and even though we are hearing about new AI products daily that does not mean we human will adapt at faster speed even though our organization leaders may want us to do that and the other question we need to answer is:

Is the technology available now really does everything a human does in their job to replace them?

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I appreciate how you cited the example of companies spinning their layoffs as victims of AI. I think a lot of companies owing their shareholders some kind of excuse for their mismanagement and failures often controls narratives that are simply untrue and shapes a perspective not always grounded in reality. One company doing it might be easy to dismiss but when enough “business leaders” make these sorry excuses and follow each others leads we all start to believe it.

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Part of the equation is unmet demand. We might need more radiology exams. Do we need more lawsuits?

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