economic effects of AI (was RE: About that E-mail:...)

From: Michael LaTorra (
Date: Sat Sep 30 2000 - 20:02:21 MDT

I do agree that commercial AI leading up to SI (at whatever rate of
progress) would almost certainly be perceived as a great boon because it
will make many people rich and provide tangible benefits to others in the
forms of new or cheaper goods and services.

But this initial "era of good feeling" could change quickly as AI advances
begin to substitute for more and more "human capital" (i.e., people's jobs).
I am making this argument not because it feels right to me intuitively, but
because a very intelligent transhumanist economist has made it. Here's the
link to, and the abstract of, Robin Hanson's paper:
[NOTE: Go to the page and scroll down to the title below then click it to
open the actual PDF file.]

Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence, Aug. '98

A simple exogenous growth model gives conservative estimates of the economic
implications of machine intelligence. Machines complement human labor when
they become more productive at the jobs they perform, but machines also
substitute for human labor by taking over human jobs. At first, expensive
hardware and software does only the few jobs where computers have the
strongest advantage over humans. Eventually, computers do most jobs. At
first, complementary effects dominate, and human wages rise with computer
productivity. But eventually substitution can dominate, making wages fall as
fast as computer prices now do. An intelligence population explosion makes
per-intelligence consumption fall this fast, while economic growth rates
rise by an order of magnitude or more. These results are robust to
automating incrementally, and to distinguishing hardware, software, and
human capital from other forms of capital.

Michael LaTorra

-----Original Message-----
From: []On Behalf
Of Ben Goertzel
Sent: Saturday, September 30, 2000 7:45 PM
Subject: RE: About that E-mail:...

Here's another point

If the first real AI is a commercial enterprise, it'll be making people

Everyone will own stock in real AI ... it'll be a huge popular sensation ...
the financial aspects may drown out any troublesome philosophical aspects in
the public

if they're making money off it in the short run, not many people will really
be thinking
about the long run -- this is typical homo sapiens shortsightedness, which
will work in the favor
of cosmic evolution in this case

-- ben goertzel

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf
> Of Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Sent: Saturday, September 30, 2000 9:23 PM
> To:
> Subject: Re: About that E-mail:...
> Josh Yotty wrote:
> >
> > I'm willing to bet the people working toward superhuman
> intelligence will be hunted down. Of course, the people hunting
> us down will be irrational, ignorant, narrowminded and stupid.
> Be careful what you fear. Sufficient amounts of hatred tend to turn into
> self-fulfilling prophecies... and if somebody really did try and
> hunt me down
> I sure wouldn't want to underestimate them.
> You'd be amazed at how often witch-hunts don't happen in First World
> countries. I can't think of anything I ought to be doing in advance to
> prepare for the possibility of violent protesters, so I don't
> intend to worry
> excessively over the possibility until it starts actually
> happening. There
> are essentially two strategies to deal with anti-technology
> crusades; you can
> try to run quietly and unobtrusively, or you can try for a pro-technology
> crusade. I've observed that ordinary people tend to grasp the
> Singularity on
> the first try; it's the people who think they're intellectuals
> that you have
> to watch out for - so the second possibility is actually
> plausible. I don't
> know if running quietly is plausible - it depends on how long it
> takes to get
> to a Singularity. It's starting to look as if we don't bring the
> issue into
> the public eye, Bill Joy will.
> Presently, I think it's not too much to hope for that the future will not
> contain anti-AI terrorist organizations. There are anti-GM groups and
> antiabortion groups, but it's harder to get public sympathy for a violent
> crusade against something that's only a possibility - I hope.
> If we do bring the issue into the public eye, turning it into an
> elitist issue
> isn't really going to help.
> -- -- -- -- --
> Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
> Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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