AI Isn’t an Employee Alternative, but a Tool to Assist Users
February 1, 2023
The past several years have brought about innovations in artificial intelligence, or AI, that has workers worried for their jobs—especially as it moves into more practical and usable mediums. This can all be tied to the Turing Test, a way of measuring the intelligence of a computer, created by one of the most notable minds behind computing, Alan Turing.
Nowadays, it’s worth asking if comparing the two was the right call; rather, industry professionals think that collaboration between AI and human workers is more preferable compared to competition.
Turing’s Standard May Have Produced Economic Inequities
At the Stanford Digital Economy Lab, director Erik Brynjolfsson claims that advances in AI have created serious issues, economic inequality among them. In the Spring 2022 issue of Dædalus, a journal produced by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he writes that the goal of AI swiftly became a mission to overtake the capabilities of the human mind. All of that to say that this mission was not the appropriate way to handle the development of this technology. Brynjolfsson’s work illustrates that this fixation on creating human-like machines has made wage inequality worse.
Brynjolfsson’s argument is that the development of AI has simply removed the need for human employees, and while productivity can increase as a result, the benefits of that productivity are only really reaped by business owners and leaders within organizations. This divide further increases the rift between workers and the rich, increasing the wage gap and creating what is known as “the Turing Trap.”
The creation of AI is just another example of humans attempting to ascend from humanity to become something different entirely, a creator of life in their own image. There are countless examples of this ranging from the golem of Jewish folklore, the automatons built by Daedalus of ancient Greek tales, or the inventors from early Islamic kingdoms and the European Renaissance. Modern popular culture and media does little to separate AI from these stories, as they paint AI as human-like entities seeking to become even more human-like.
If this is the wrong approach, then what is the right one?
According to Brynjolfsson, AI Would Be Better Used as “Augmentation”
Human employees and AI employees are both capable of doing things well, but it’s critical to note that the things they do well are not the same. Therefore, the key to making the most good out of AI is for humans to supplement their shortcomings with it. In essence, humans are “partnering” with AI to produce better results.
Unfortunately, it’s seen as easier to replace rather than integrate AI, simply because there is no true precedent for doing so. Other research has shown that there are various tasks that people would prefer to do themselves rather than AI, so there will always be things that people want to do themselves that AI can, but should not, do. People are worried that automation will replace the human worker, but there are other proponents who argue that AI can only feasibly cover a small portion of the various duties associated with human work.
AI is a Tool, Not Competition
We urge you to think of AI not as an excuse to cut workers, but more of a tool they can use to bring about success for your organization. To discuss your options, give us a call at 770-955-9003.