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Two research papers argue that the risk of AI-driven automation isn't so much the destruction of jobs as the amplification of wealth inequality.
That is to say workers in our brave new world will still have things to do, but many of them, assisting and assisted by machines, will be paid poorly while robot owners get rich.
Intelligence - Implications - Income - Distribution - Unemployment
In "Artificial Intelligence and Its Implications for Income Distribution and Unemployment," presented last month through the National Bureau of Economic Research, economists Anton Korinek (Johns Hopkins University) and Joseph E. Stiglitz (Columbia University) contend "the primary economic challenge posed by the proliferation of AI will be one of income distribution."
Korinek and Stiglitz tackle the issue at length and consider a variety of possible economic scenarios arising from improvements in AI. They call out the fallacy that there's a fixed number of jobs and that if automation destroys jobs, there will be fewer.
Positives - Progress - Income - Potential - Jobs
But they balance theoretical economic positives – that technological progress creates additional income and the potential for more jobs – with observations about why the benefits may not accrue to everyone in equal measure.
They anticipate a period like the Great Depression, when agricultural innovations meant fewer workers were needed to produce food, reducing agricultural prices and incomes, and thereby driving down demand for urban products.
Parallels - Situation - Today - Fraction - Workforce
"There are clear parallels to the situation today in that a significant fraction of the workforce may not have the skills required to succeed in the age of AI," they wrote.
They suggest job subsidies may be preferable to universal basic income payments for workers as a response to AI disruption because some argue that work, in addition to fulfilling the practical need for money, can provide people with a sense of purpose and dignity.
Speculation - Authors - Possibility - AI - Wealthy
There's some dystopian speculation too. The authors mull the possibility of AI augmenting the wealthy to the...
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