Experts have long speculated that AI may (and probably will) replace humans in the workforce. According to a recent study, approximately half of all tasks currently performed by humans could be automated. 

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However, new research by the MIT-IBM Watson Artificial Intelligence Lab reveals that such automation might come with extra costs, and employers might not be too eager to foot the bill. 

Beyond AI Exposure

A bunch of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and IBM recently published a study that might help calm the nerves about artificial intelligence (AI) taking over our jobs. The MIT/IBM research suggests that humans still lead as the more “economically appealing” employees compared to AI. 

While the review wasn’t exactly a comprehensive tour, its findings reveal that the shift from human employees to AI workers won’t be as rapid as many experts foresaw.

According to the working document from the team with the intriguing name “Beyond AI Exposure: Which Tasks are Cost-Effective to Automate with Computer Vision?” automating the majority of positions previously touted as AI candidates, given the current economy, would be economically ineffective.

The Economic Inexpediency of Replacing Workers with AI

In the grand quest for implementation, the research has identified a major obstacle: the high cost of training and deployment. While systems like ChatGPT can be fine-tuned for specific purposes, their all-encompassing nature makes them less than ideal for many applications.

This means many employers will either have to unleash their own AI system or entrust their precious data and inner workings to an external provider. According to the researchers, the costs, in either case, often surpass the potential profits:

In today’s cost-ridden reality, only 23% of the paycheck paid for computer vision tasks would be alluring enough to automate.

Swift Progress Makes Worker Replacement Difficult to Predict

Currently, the shift towards automation is happening gradually. Many enterprises are still in the exploration and experimental phases of AI implementation. However, rapid progress has made it difficult to predict which jobs will be replaced by AI and which ones might or should be. Short-term and long-term economic factors play a large role in the decision-making process.

In the grand scheme of things, as the researchers put it, “making the right political and business decisions depends on understanding just how quickly AI task automation will happen.”

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Researchers emphasize that it doesn’t necessarily mean human workers have nothing to worry about. The article’s tone suggests that the shift from a human-led workforce to one dominated by artificial intelligence won’t happen overnight. But it’s quite possible.

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