Study: ChatGPT makes workers 40% MORE productive, boosts quality 18%

Job terminator or robot sidekick? First of its kind study finds ChatGPT makes us 40% MORE productive and boosts our output quality by 18%

  • MIT gave 453 college-educated workers writing tasks with and without ChatGPT 
  • The researchers found that ChatGPT leveled the playing field between workers
  • READ MORE: Meet the workers using ChatGPT to take on multiple full-time jobs

The machines may one day rule over humanity — but in the near term AI-based chatbots like ChatGPT could help struggling workers hold their own in writing tasks.

Those are the findings of a new study, at least, which tracked the writing performance of 453 ‘experienced, college-educated professionals’ divided equally into two groups: one taught to use ChatGPT and another forced to complete their writing assignments on their own. 

The researchers found that the chatbot made their test subjects 40-percent more productive and improved the quality of their work by 18 percent.

In fact, a significant number of the study participants, who had been encouraged to use ChatGPT, stuck with the software for an added boost in the real world. 

After two weeks, 34 percent reported using ChatGPT in a professional setting. And after two months, that figure rose, with 42 percent of participants reporting that they had logged in to ChatGPT for some further on-the-job assistance. 

Can ChatGPT help workers? After two weeks, 34 percent of MIT’s test group subjects reported using ChatGPT in a professional setting. And after two months, that figure rose, with 42 percent reporting that they had logged in to ChatGPT for some further on-the-job assistance

But in what is perhaps the study’s most admirable finding, as published Thursday in the journal Science, the researchers found that those participants with weaker writing skills derived the most benefit from consulting with ChatGPT.

The study’s authors, economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), suggest their work illustrates a path toward reducing inequality among workers.  

‘Overall, the arrival of ChatGPT ushers in an era of vast uncertainty about the economic and labor market effects of AI technologies,’ the authors wrote. 

‘These results are consistent with other studies showing productivity-enhancing and equalizing effects of recent AI technologies,’ they noted, citing two studies by the private nonprofit the National Bureau of Economic Research.

READ MORE: Experts reveal the five professions at most risk from the AI revolution 

Zak Saidi, creative director and AI Lead of creative agency IZSRI, which already uses AI to automate some writing tasks, says that the impact of AI will be felt across many sectors within the next three years. 

The study’s participants were drawn from the fields of marketing, grant writing, consulting, data analysis, and human resources, among other professions frequently asked to perform ‘midlevel professional writing tasks.’ 

The half of workers in the test group were working with ChatGPT version 3.5. 

The MIT economists took care to assign their study subjects tasks that resembled real-world writing work that they might encounter on the job: 20- to 30-minute test assignments replicating the work of writing press releases, drafting up short reports, making planning documents, and composing delicate emails. 

Further survey questions helped the researchers confirm that their participants did indeed find the tests similar to tasks they had encountered before in their own office.

To make sure that the control group experienced an equivalent time-consuming tutorial, the study subjects in this second group were instructed on how to use a collaborative writing tool called LaTeX editor Overleaf instead of ChatGPT.

Less than five percent of that control group bothered to use LaTex in their test assignments.

But the researchers tracked not only their subjects’ performance and usage of ChatGPT, but also their subjects’ personal reactions to the AI tool.

One third of those who reported not using ChatGPT in their post-study surveys said that their work-related writing was too ‘specifically tailored’ to their customers and required ‘real time’ or ‘unique’ information on their company’s products. 

The MIT economists found that those who used ChatGPT enjoyed their tasks about 47 percent more than not just the average, but the standard scatter of deviations from that average level of enjoyment. 

The ChatGPT users were also notably more concerned, more excited and more optimistic about the future portents heralded by the wider adoption of AI in their industries and occupations. 

Nevertheless, these feelings quickly dissipated after the study’s 2-week and 2-month follow-up surveys as participants got used to the new normal. 

‘They are best interpreted,’ they wrote, ‘as short-run phenomena reflecting respondents’ first experiences with the technology.’

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