Re: Conservative Estimation of the Economic Impact of Artificial Intelligence

From: Stephen Reed (
Date: Mon Jan 03 2005 - 06:35:20 MST

On Tue, 28 Dec 2004, justin corwin wrote:

> The unfortunate thing, from my point of view, is that generating a
> conservative estimation of the economic impact of AI is nearly
> impossible. [snip]


A previous thread on this subject is:

Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence by Robin Hanson.

Quoting from Hanson's paper:

Without machine intelligence, world product grows at a familiar rate of
4.3% per year, doubling every 16 years... With machine intelligence, the
(instantaneous) annual growth rate would be 45%, ten times higher, making
world product double every 18 months! If the product shares [a model
parameter] are raised by 20%, and general technology growth is lowered to
preserve the 4.4% figure [a model parameter], the new doubling time falls
to less than 6 months.

Such rapid growth may seem so far from historical experience that it
should be rejected out of hand. However, an empirical projection of
historical trends in world economic growth makes a median prediction that
the economy will transition to a doubling time of one to two years around
2025 (Hanson, 1998).

Note that Hanson's model above assumes that rates of improvement of
computer and other technology are "exogenous", i.e. no recursive self-improvement!
Even when Hanson considers an "endogenous" model incorporating
learning-by-doing, he must constrain it.

... Reducing alpha-bar [a model parameter] to .24 eliminates diminishing
returns and and steady growth solutions entirely. [I.e. the Singularity
defined in economic terms.] Clearly endogenous [recursive
self-improvement] models are capable of producing much more dramatic
implications of substituting machine intelligence for human labor.



Stephen L. Reed                  phone:  512.342.4036
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