🦾 A productive centaur

🦾 A productive centaur

New research indicates a significant increase in productivity and quality for those who used ChatGPT compared to those who didn't.

Mathias Sundin
Mathias Sundin

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In August, I wrote an Optimist's Edge article, The centaur's edge (how amateurs beat experts), about how to use AI most effectively.

πŸ’‘ Optimist's Edge: By becoming really good at using AI tools, amateurs can perform better than experts.
Those who learn to handle the new tools need not worry. Their jobs are safer, but if they are threatened, it is these people who move forward. Who become this generation's leaders, who get a boost in their career, who see and take the new opportunities before everyone else.

Exciting research has now emerged supporting this claim.

Professor Ethan Mollick, today's best teacher on generative AI, along with Boston Consulting Group, tested how consultants who don't use ChatGPT fare against consultants who do use ChatGPT (centaur-consultants.)

The over 700 consultants participating in the test had to perform 18 different tasks, which are realistic examples of the type of work done in a consulting firm. Consultants who used ChatGPT clearly outperformed those who didn't.

"In every respect. In every way we measured performance," Mollick writes.

Consultants using AI completed 12 percent more tasks, 25 percent faster, and produced results of 40 percent higher quality than those without.

Pause for a moment and reflect on these numbers.

If all consultants at Boston Consulting Group became centaur-consultants, they would, as if by magic, manage a quarter more work of higher quality.

Benefits the least productive the most

Perhaps even more intriguing is who benefits most from AI. Consultants who scored the lowest at the beginning of the experiment had the largest increase in performance, 43%, when they used ChatGPT.

It makes sense.

For instance, I'm not good at designing, painting, or drawing. What appears on the screen or paper doesn't resemble what I had in mind. But through image-generating AI, like Midjourney, I can now create fantastic artworks. Several hundred percent better than before.

However, I'm fairly good at writing. There, AI can improve my texts by helping with ideas, providing feedback, enhancing headlines, and so on. Better, but perhaps only ten to twenty percent better. (If I get better at using AI, however, the percentage may increase.)

An earlier study from MIT has come to the same conclusion.

"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," writes Ethan Mollick.

Don't fall asleep at the wheel

They also observed another phenomenon, which has also appeared in other research on generative AI. The consultants who got lazy and let ChatGPT do all the work, those who didn't use AI as a tool, got worse results than those who weren't allowed to use AI. They fell asleep at the wheel.

In other words: Become a centaur. Get good at using AI.

πŸ’‘ Optimist's Edge: By becoming really good at using AI tools, amateurs can perform better than experts.

Mathias Sundin
The Angry Optimist