Ron Lancaster

Thoughts on tech and leadership

Two research papers this year demonstrate that generative AI can significantly enhance productivity in the workplace.

The first, an MIT study in March, “Experimental Evidence on the Productivity Effects of Generative Artificial Intelligence,” found that ChatGPT substantially raises average productivity: time taken decreases by 0.8 standard deviations and output quality rises by 0.4 standard deviations.

The second study published a few days ago, “Navigating the Jagged Technological Frontier,” showed that consultants equipped with AI, specifically ChatGPT-4, outperformed their peers, completing 12.2% more tasks, 25.1% faster, and producing 40% higher quality results.

These results are stunning! But, even more impressively: the most significant improvements were seen among those who initially scored poorly, with a performance jump of 43%.

This finding, that generative AI is a skill-lever, will have profound impacts on the future of work.

Ethan Mollick, one of the paper’s authors notes, “Looking at these results, I do not think enough people are considering what it means when a technology raises all workers to the top tiers of performance. It may be like how it used to matter whether miners were good or bad at digging through rock… until the steam shovel was invented and now differences in digging ability do not matter anymore. AI is not quite at that level of change, but skill levelling is going to have a big impact.”