RE: Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence

From: mike99 (
Date: Thu May 13 2004 - 11:53:02 MDT

Your quotations and analysis add much value to this discussion. Thanks.

You are correct that non-earned income (i.e., income derived from dividends, interest and rent) could potentially replace wages and lead to general wealth for every human. Whether this will happen or not is a question that does not have a technological answer, or even a necessary economic one (in the sense that the market is guaranteed to deliver it), but is a social-political question.

I quote the last portion of your message on this point, with my emphasis (in the form of **) added to the very last sentence:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: []On Behalf Of Rafal
> Smigrodzki
> ### ...This trend is a reflection of the fact that capital (e.g. in
> the form of machines, or organizational schemes)) is becoming more and
> more important in production of goods and services. At the same time,
> non-labor forms of capital are becoming cheaper in absolute terms (i.e.
> per unit of output).
> These trends will become even more pronounced as AI technology matures.
> The fraction of output directly attributable to labor will trend towards
> zero while absolute output is skyrocketing, the ownership of capital
> sufficient for sustenance becomes ubiquitous, and therefore human
> consumption will grow, in direct contradiction of the conventional wisdom.
> The main objection to this prediction, raised by Hanson (with whom I
> agree), is that the rise of uploads legally capable of exercising
> ownership rights *and* psychological self-modification may result in a
> situation where the vast majority of legally enfranchised sentients
> evolved to put maximum value on self-replication, rather than personal
> income growth. **In that case indeed the average per human income might be
> reduced - but this would be irrelevant to the issue of political
> stability, as humans would be a insignificant minority, incapable of
> disrupting the society.**
> Rafal

But would we want that type of political stability? Cybernetic feudalism, in which the remnant of non-uploaded humanity lived on the sufferance of their uploaded overlords, is precisely the scary scenario that the opponents of the transhumanist progress we want are continually throwing in our faces. Please note that I do not find any fault in your analysis, but only in the desirability of its results. And I don't believe that these particular results are inevitable (and hope you agree). Our task, as I see it, is to ensure that the human family (broadly defined, including all posthumans) allows diversification and even some degree of social stratification (which is inevitable in any case) but without regressing into the ancient social forms in which the lower social strata were practically enslaved by the upper ones.


Michael LaTorra

"For any man to abdicate an interest in science is to walk with open eyes towards slavery."
-- Jacob Bronowski

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