Generative AI and the Future of Work: Augmentation or Automation?

Zysman, John
Nitzberg, Mark
ISSN der Zeitschrift
Weizenbaum Institute

This report examines the potential impact of Generative artificial intelligence (AI) systems, such as ChatGPT, on the future of work and, by implication, on productivity. It argues that although Generative AI is powerful, it has significant limitations and risks that require humans to remain “in the loop” not only to prevent systems from going off the rails, but to capture value. Rather than taking a deterministic view that artificial intelligence (AI) will inevitably destroy jobs, the article suggests that an analysis should start with how firms can strategically deploy these tools to gain an advantage. It asks whether “augmentation” or “simplistic automation” lies ahead. Our objective is to move beyond hype and despair.
The existing digital infrastructure has enabled AI to be adopted quickly. However, projections based solely on automating existing tasks fail to capture the complex reorganizations that are likely to happen. Firms in sectors such as professional services, materials, and pharmaceuticals seem to have particular exposure to the use of Generative AI tools. Adaptations will vary across contexts and depend greatly on who controls the decisions about deployment. Maintaining the centrality of humans is likely to prove crucial—in training systems, curating data, and assessing outputs. One question is which business strategies and public policies encourage that engagement and make it possible.
Although AI regulation debates matter, promoting social prosperity depends heavily on directly shaping the trajectory of the development and use of AI. This requires influencing the constraints and the incentives that firms face, as well as the strategic mindsets of decision makers. Which groups are engaged in the discussions and debates is of vital importance. The article recommends that, beyond the traditional policy proposals, an independent public-interest consultancy needs to be established in order to design creative business strategies that augment workers in a manner that will support, rather than hinder, social prosperity. Ultimately, avoiding a dystopian scenario might hinge on fostering new norms in which human capabilities remain essential.

Artificial Intelligence \ Workplace \ Automation
Verwandte Ressource
Verwandte Ressource
John Zysman, Mark Nitzberg (2024): Generative AI and the Future of Work: Augmentation or Automation? Weizenbaum Discussion Paper #38.