Stanford University

2023: Year in Review

Just a few of the things we did in 2023

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The past year has seen the Lab holding true to our mission of pursuing a deeper understanding of the digital economy and its impact on the future of work and society. From groundbreaking research to new collaborations to far-reaching events, here are just a few of our accomplishments in 2023.

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First-of-its-kind study explores how generative AI impacts productivity in the workplace

A groundbreaking study finds that generative AI tools like ChatGPT can boost productivity
Women sitting at desk looking at computer

Can generative AI boost productivity in the workplace? Lab researchers Erik Brynjolfsson, Danielle Li, and Lindsey Raymond tested AI software with more than 5,000 agents at an unnamed Fortune 500 company to find out. The surprising result: The company posted a 14% increase in the number of customer service chats an agent successfully responded to per hour. Another surprising finding: The boost in productivity was seen in the lowest-skilled customer service agents, while their higher-skilled counterparts experienced only a slight increase.

Generative AI at Work

First study to look at AI in the workplace finds it boosts productivity

How to capitalize on generative AI
Harvard Business Review

Will generative AI make you more productive at work? Yes, but only if you’re not already great at your job
Stanford HAI

How generative AI is placing CFOs at the forefront of company strategy

Brainstorm AI 2023: Economic Impacts of AI and ML on the Workforce


A new initiative to promote democracy and responsible technology on the internet

The Lab joined forces with Project Liberty to promote a ‘more responsible approach to digital technology worldwide’
Civic entrepreneur Frank McCourt, Jr. (second from left) with members of the faculty steering committee, who will lead and oversee Stanford’s activities under Project Liberty’s Institute. From left to right, Erik Brynjolfsson, Rob Reich, Michael McFaul, Marietje Schaake, and Nathaniel Persily. (Image credit: Melissa Morgan)
From left to right, Erik Brynjolfsson, Frank McCourt, Jr., Rob Reich, Michael McFaul, Marietje Schaake, and Nathaniel Persily. (Image credit: Melissa Morgan)

Project Liberty brings technologists, academics, policymakers, and citizens together to improve technology, including a more open internet infrastructure. Earlier this year, the Lab, along with Stanford University, joined Project Liberty in its effort to produce a more responsible approach to digital technology. “Stanford will add an important anchor for us in Silicon Valley,” said founder Frank McCourt. Jr. “With their openness to collaboration, focus on solutions, and shared sense of urgency, Stanford faculty will help propel our work.”

Project Liberty expands global alliance to strengthen democracy and responsible technology

Stanford joins international initiative to strengthen democracy and foster responsible technology

Project Liberty Institute

Knowledge sharing

Addressing a diverse range of topics about AI and the digital economy

Researchers, scholars, and experts visited the Lab throughout the year to share their insights with us—and the world
Simon Johnson
Simon Johnson of MIT visited us in October 2023 for this talk, “Can We Redirect Technological Change? When, How, and to Achieve What Exactly?”

Our 2023 Seminar Series covered a wide range of pressing topics—including productivity during the pandemic, consumer demand to support black-owned businesses, and data deserts and inequality. Catch up on all of our seminars (or watch them again) from the past year.

Seminar Series 2023: Year in Review


Ongoing collaboration: The ADP National Employment Report

The Lab continued its collaboration with the ADP Research Insititute to deliver a monthly snapshot of employment among private employers in the United States
Female grocery store worker

The Lab began working with the ADP Research Institute in 2022 to produce the new and improved ADP National Employment Report, which measures the changes in private employment based on payroll data from more than 25 million employees. Today, that collaboration is going strong.

ADP National Employment Report 

ADP Pay Insights Report

ADP Research Institute


Discovering new and better ways to measure the economy

Workshop makes the case for new and better methods to measure the economy

The way we currently measure the economy is outdated—and that divide will only grow in the emerging AI-powered economy characterized by goods and services that have zero price. So how can we understand, let alone manage, what we do not accurately gauge? The New Measures of the Economy Workshop convened researchers and experts to explore new and better methods of measurement.

Crafting a New Measure of Economic Well-Being
Stanford Digital Economy Lab


The who, what, and where of AI adoption in America

A new paper examines the early adoption of five AI-related technologies in the US
Office building at night

In the working paper, “AI Adoption in America: Who What, and Where,” a team of researchers examined how 850,000 firms in the United States used five AI-powered technologies—autonomous vehicles, machine learning, machine vision, natural language processing, and voice recognition. Their findings? Fewer than 6% of firms used any of the five AI-related technologies.

AI Adoption in America: Who, What, and Where

‘AI divide’ across the US leaves economists concerned
The Register


Exploring the AI awakening

A new course drew experts to Stanford to discuss how artificial intelligence will transform the economy and society in the years to come
Erik Brynjolfsson

In “The AI Awakening: Implications for the Economy and Society,” a Stanford course led by Lab Director Erik Brynjolfsson, students discussed and debated the ways AI will impact the future. Guest speakers included Mira MuratiJack ClarkLaura D’Andrea TysonAlexandr WangCondoleezza RiceBindu ReddyEric SchmidtMustafa Suleyman, and Jeff Dean, A 2024 course is planned.

The AI Awakening: Implications for the Economy and Society
Stanford Digital Economy Lab


Where are all the robots?

New research reveals details about robot adoption and concentration in US manufacturing

Who knew that Iowa, Michigan, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota led the nation with the highest concentration of robots in manufacturing? In the working paper titled “The Characteristics and Geographic Distribution of Robot Hubs In US Manufacturing Establishments,” Erik Brynjolfsson, J. Frank Li, and other researchers used data from the US Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Manufacturers to examine which manufacturers use robotics, where the robots are, and how establishments are using them.

The Characteristics and Geographic Distribution of Robot Hubs in U.S. Manufacturing Establishments

What ‘robot hubs’ mean for the future of US manufacturing
Stanford Digital Economy Lab

The Midwest is America’s robot capital

Stanford University