Re: [sl4] Comparative Advantage Doesn't Ensure Survival

From: J. Andrew Rogers (
Date: Sun Nov 23 2008 - 23:22:32 MST

On Nov 23, 2008, at 6:36 PM, Tim Freeman wrote:
> I came across a section in "Beyond AI" by J. Storrs Hall saying that
> the economic law of comparative advantage implies that we can't be
> out-competed by AI's. I have also seen other people making the same
> claim. The argument seems invalid to me, and I wrote a rebuttal at:
> I'd like to be wrong here. If anyone sees a counter to the rebuttal,
> please let me know.

Ricardian comparative advantage is predicated on assumptions, both
explicit and implicit, that are not applicable to an economy with
human-level AI in it, never mind smarter-than-human AI. Comparative
advantage is not an "economic law" in the sense that it is universal
in any meaningful way, merely a necessary mathematical consequence of
certain simple models of an economy with a laundry list of caveats
that restrict application.

This is probably one of those cases that abound in economics where
many people do not understand the nature and scope of the model that
underlies a well-known simple rule and consequently attempt to
improperly apply that rule outside of its legitimate scope. Most
people, both proponents and opponents, have a similarly broken
understanding of the optimality of free markets.


J. Andrew Rogers

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