Artificial Intelligence Is Too Expensive To Replace Humans In Jobs For Now, Finds Study

Artificial Intelligence Is Too Expensive To Replace Humans In Jobs For Now, Finds Study

Only 23% of workers’ wages could be cost-effectively replaced by AI, study said.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) might not be coming for your jobs just yet. A new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that AI might still be expensive for companies to replace human workers. The research looked into the practicalities of replacing human labour with AI in jobs in the United States where computer vision – a type of AI that derives information from images and video – was employed. They found that the majority of the time, it would be cheaper for firms to continue to use human workers for some specific tasks rather than using AI. 

“Our study on automation with AI computer vision systems does deliver some encouraging news about job replacement, showing that many tasks wouldn’t be economically attractive to automate for years or even decades,” Neil Thompson, principal investigator at MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), told CNBC Make It.

As per the study, only 23% of workers’ wages could be cost-effectively replaced by artificial intelligence. In some cases, human workers are still more economical because AI-assisted visual recognition technology is expensive to install and operate, researchers said. They also predicted that it would still take decades for computer vision tasks to become financially efficient for companies, even with a 20% drop in cost per year. 

“We find that only 23% of worker compensation ‘exposed’ to AI computer vision would be cost-effective for firms to automate because of the large upfront costs of AI systems,” the study said. 

The MIT researchers noted that previous predictions and studies were notably vague about the timeline and extent of automation “because they do not directly consider the technical feasibility or economic viability of AI systems, but instead use measures of similarity because tasks and AI capabilities to indicate exposure”. 

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However, they also stated AI might disrupt the job market – now and in future. “Even in the short run, there will be workers whose jobs are lost or whose responsibilities get changed because of AI,” Neil Thompson told CNBC Make It. 

According to Mr Thompson, in future, it may cost less to develop AI systems, potentially speeding up how quickly companies opt to use them. However, it will likely take many years for those costs to decrease to a level where these AI systems can be deployed by companies on a broad level, he said. 

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