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Mark Llobrera

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Ethan Marcotte: “Tooled”

Ethan Marcotte, writing about generative AI tools:

But I’ll just note that labor economics has an old, old term for [gestures around] all this: de-skilling. De-skilling is the process by which the demand for skilled labor is reduced by technology — if not eliminated altogether. As a new technology is introduced to an industry, it may be able to complete tasks that had traditionally been performed by skilled laborers. And as the technology matures, it can be overseen by fewer workers, which gradually lowers wages, and may eliminate jobs.

I appreciated how Ethan points out the lack of regulatory guard rails that would curb abuse of these tools. It’s not the tools themselves that are the danger, it’s that there’s very little stopping people from misusing them:

…these utilities are being created in a country that has minimal regulatory oversight, few privacy safeguards, and even fewer labor protections. And the makers of this software promise it can do tasks many digital workers always believed couldn’t be automated.

Tech workers giving birth to generative AI that then make some of their jobs obsolete—all I can think of is various permutations of the “Me Sowing/Me Reaping” meme.