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  • Publication: MIT
  • Publication Date: March 2, 2023
  • Organizations mentioned: MIT, Emergent Ventures, George and Obie Shultz Fund, National Science Foundation, AEA RCT Registry
  • Publication Authors: Shakked Noy, Whitney Zhang
  • Technical background required: Medium
  • Estimated read time (original text): 30 minutes
  • Sentiment score: 65%, somewhat positive (100% being most positive)


This report, authored by Shakked Noy and Whitney Zhang from MIT, explores the impact of ChatGPT, a generative AI, on mid-level professional writing tasks. The study was motivated by the transformative potential of AI in altering task structures, skill demands, and productivity in professional settings.


  • The study involved 444 college-educated professionals, randomly assigning half to use ChatGPT for writing tasks.
  • Productivity was measured in terms of time taken and output quality, with evaluations done by professionals in the same field.
  • Additional focus areas included the effects on task structure, skill demand, job satisfaction, and beliefs about automation.

Key findings

  • ChatGPT significantly reduced time taken for tasks by 37% and improved output quality.
  • It notably decreased productivity inequality, benefiting lower-ability workers more.
  • The use of ChatGPT mostly substituted for human effort in tasks, with less evidence of enhancing human skills.
  • Tasks evolved towards more idea-generation and editing, moving away from initial drafting.
  • Exposure to ChatGPT increased job satisfaction and altered perceptions about automation.
  • In a follow-up, 33% of participants in the treatment group continued using ChatGPT in their jobs.


  • Embrace AI tools like ChatGPT in professional settings to enhance productivity and reduce time on routine tasks.
  • Leverage AI to assist lower-ability workers, potentially reducing productivity gaps.
  • Recognize the changing nature of tasks and skills demand in the AI era, with a shift towards idea generation and editing.
  • Foster a balanced view of AI’s role in the workplace, acknowledging both its potential and limitations.
  • Encourage ongoing adaptation and learning about AI technologies among professionals.

Thinking Critically


  • Workplace Transformation: Widespread adoption of AI tools like ChatGPT could lead to a significant transformation in workplace structures and skill sets. There might be an increased demand for creative and analytical skills, while routine writing tasks become automated.
  • Economic Impact: If organizations universally embrace AI for professional writing, there could be a substantial increase in overall productivity, potentially boosting economic growth. Conversely, not adopting such technologies could widen the productivity gap between AI-adopting and non-adopting firms.
  • Societal Shift: The increased use of AI in professional settings could influence education and training, emphasizing skills that complement AI, such as critical thinking and creativity, over traditional writing skills.

Alternative Perspectives

  • Methodological Limitations: The study’s reliance on self-reported data and its focus on a specific professional setting may limit the generalizability of the findings. Different industries or types of writing tasks might yield different outcomes.
  • Potential Overreliance on AI: There’s a risk that heavy dependence on AI tools like ChatGPT could lead to a degradation of human writing skills and critical thinking abilities.
  • Ethical and Privacy Concerns: The report doesn’t address potential ethical and privacy implications of using AI in professional settings, which could be significant.

AI Predictions

  • Enhanced AI Integration: In the next few years, AI tools like ChatGPT are likely to become more deeply integrated into various professional writing tasks, with enhanced features tailored to specific industries.
  • Shift in Job Roles: The role of professionals is likely to evolve, with a greater focus on tasks that AI cannot perform effectively, such as high-level strategy and human-centric services.
  • Educational Shift: There might be a shift in educational curricula to focus more on AI literacy and complementary skills, preparing future professionals for an AI-augmented workplace.


  • Productivity Inequality Reduction: A concept that ChatGPT helps in reducing the gap in productivity levels among different ability groups of workers.
  • Task Structure Evolution: The idea that the introduction of AI like ChatGPT changes the nature of professional tasks, shifting focus towards idea generation and editing.
  • AI-Enhanced Job Satisfaction: A term indicating that exposure to AI tools like ChatGPT can lead to increased job satisfaction among professionals.
Experimental Evidence on the Productivity Effects of Generative Artificial Intelligence

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