Super Mario Meets AI: The Effects of Automation on Team Performance and Coordination in a Videogame Experiment
53 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2021 Last revised: 30 Apr 2021
Date Written: December 10, 2020
Recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have piqued interest in how these technological advances will transform jobs and labor markets. While prior work has focused on understanding the tasks where AI outperforms humans, we ask how the introduction of automated agents affects teams, their routines, and organizations. We randomize the introduction of automated agents and new hires into "experimental firms" engaging in a coordination-based game on the Nintendo Switch console. We demonstrate experimentally that even in a task where automated agents outperform humans, the introduction of an automated agent decreases team performance. These effects are especially large in the short-term and in low- and medium-skilled teams. We furthermore document that automation can generate adverse spillover effects into teams that do not receive an automated agent but must coordinate with it. Our results indicate that these effects are driven by an increase in coordination failures, and we provide suggestive evidence that automation reduces team trust and individual effort provision. Overall, our team-based approach highlights that human-machine interaction is key to expanding our understanding of how AI will transform teams, organizations, and work more broadly.
Keywords: Artificial intelligence, videogame experiments, human-machine interaction, productivity, routines, skills, tacit
JEL Classification: J00,M14,M54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation