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Financial Times

Writing for Financial Times, economist Ann Harrison spotlights research by Prof. Daron Acemoglu, Pascual Restrepo PhD '16 and Prof. David Autor, that explores the impact of automation on jobs in the United States. Acemoglu and Restrepo have “calculated that each additional robot in the US eliminates 3.3 workers” and that “most of the increase in inequality is due to workers who perform routine tasks being hit by automation,” writes Harrison.

New York Times

New York Times opinion writer Peter Coy spotlights the MIT Shaping the Future of Work Initiative, a new effort aimed at analyzing the forces that are eroding job quality for non-college workers and identifying ways to move the economy onto a more equitable trajectory. Nothing is “inexorable,” said Prof. Daron Acemoglu during the project’s kickoff event. “The answer in most cases is, AI will do whatever we choose it to do.”


In a new study examining the potential impact of AI on jobs that employ computer vision, MIT researchers found, “a vast majority of jobs previously identified as vulnerable to AI are not economically beneficial for employers to automate at this time,” reports Catherine Thorbecke for CNN. “In many cases, humans are the more cost-effective way, and a more economically attractive way, to do work right now,” says Research Scientist Neil Thompson, director of the FutureTech Research Project at CSAIL. “What we’re seeing is that while there is a lot of potential for AI to replace tasks, it’s not going to happen immediately.”


A new working paper by MIT researchers finds that artificial intelligence is not currently a cost-effective replacement in jobs where computer vision is employed, reports Saritha Rai for Bloomberg. “Our study examines the usage of computer vision across the economy, examining its applicability to each occupation across nearly every industry and sector,” explains Research Scientist Neil Thompson, director of the FutureTech Research Project at CSAIL. “We show that there will be more automation in retail and healthcare, and less in areas like construction, mining or real estate.”

New Scientist

A new working paper by MIT researchers focuses on whether human work, including vision tasks, are worth replacing with AI computer vision, reports Jeremy Hsu for New Scientist. “There are lots of tasks that you can imagine AI applying to, but actually cost-wise you just wouldn’t want to do it,” says Research Scientist Neil Thompson, director of the FutureTech Research Project at CSAIL.

The Boston Globe

Researchers at MIT have released a new working paper that aims to quantify the severity and speed with which AI systems could replace human workers, reports Hiawatha Bray for The Boston Globe. The paper concluded that “it’s not enough for AI systems to be good at tasks not performed by people,” explains Bray. “The system must be good enough to justify the cost of installing it and redesigning the way a job is done.”


A new working paper by MIT researchers predicts “only 23% of wages linked to vision-related tasks could be feasibly cost-effectively replaced by AI,” reports Gil Press for Forbes. The researchers “argue that their findings apply also to generative AI or the automation of language-related tasks,” writes Press.


Writing for Wired, Institute Prof. Daron Acemoglu predicts that expectations for generative AI will need to recalibrated during the year ahead. Acemoglu notes that he believes in 2024, “generative AI will have been adopted by many companies, but it will prove to be just ‘so-so automation’ of the type that displaces workers but fails to deliver huge productivity improvements.”

The Wall Street Journal

Prof. Julie Shah speaks with Wall Street Journal reporter Lauren Weber about the implementation of automation in the work force. According to Shah, “when companies adopt automation successfully, they end up adding workers as they become more productive and fill more orders,” writes Weber. “And machines’ lack of flexibility has often resulted in what Shah calls ‘zero-sum automation,’ where gains in productivity are canceled out by the need for people to fix or reprogram robots and compensate for their drawbacks.” 


Prof. Zeynep Ton speaks with Marketplace host Meghan McCarty Carino about the impact of automation, such as self-service kiosks or chatbot customer service agents, on retail shopping. When thinking about self checkout stations and chatbots, Ton recommends companies evaluate whether the technologies can “improve value for the customer? And would this improve productivity for employees and make their jobs better so that they can serve the customers much better too.”


Prof. Daron Acemoglu speaks with CNBC about the potential impact of AI in the workplace. “I think the incentive in the industry… especially with the idea that you have to dominate the market by becoming the largest players, I think those are not helping because those are making us rush down the easiest road, the lowest resistance path, which is often automation,” says Acemoglu. “I don’t think that is going to get us the kind of aspirations that are articulated where we can make blue collar workers, electricians, nurses, teachers much more capable because we have given them tools to be better workers and to make much higher quality services.”

Financial Times

Prof. David Autor speaks with Delphine Strauss of the Financial Times about the risks AI poses to jobs and job quality, but also the technology’s potential to help rebuild middle-class jobs. “The good case for AI is where it enables people with foundational expertise or judgment to do more expert work with less expertise,” says Autor. He adds, “My hope is that we can use AI to reinstate the value of skills held by people without as high a degree of formal education.”


A study by MIT researchers shows that “workers have cost employers a 25% tax rate, while the rate of software and equipment has stood around 5%,” write Diego Areas Munhoz and Samantha Handler for Bloomberg. “This lopsidedness in tax code gives employers more reason to invest in automating goods like machines and computer software instead of workers.”

Financial Times

“Power and Progress,” a new book by Institute Prof. Daron Acemoglu and Prof. Simon Johnson, has been named one of the best new books on economics by the Financial Times. “The authors’ nuanced take on technological development provides insights on how we can ensure the coming AI revolution leads to widespread benefits for the many, not just the tech bros,” writes Tej Parikh.

New York Times

Writing for The New York Times, Institute Prof. Daron Acemoglu and Prof Simon Johnson make the case that “rather than machine intelligence, what we need is ‘machine usefulness,’ which emphasizes the ability of computers to augment human capabilities. This would be a much more fruitful direction for increasing productivity. By empowering workers and reinforcing human decision making in the production process, it also would strengthen social forces that can stand up to big tech companies.”