NEW YORK – The robots are no longer coming; they are here. The COVID-19 pandemic is hastening the spread of artificial intelligence, but few have fully considered the short- and long-run consequences.
In thinking about AI, it is natural to start from the perspective of welfare economics — productivity and distribution. What are the economic effects of robots that can replicate human labor? Such concerns are not new. In the 19th century, many feared that new mechanical and industrial innovations would “replace” workers. The same concerns are being echoed today.
Consider a model of a national economy in which labor performed by robots matches that performed by humans. The total volume of labor — robotic and human — will reflect the number of human workers, H, plus the number of robots, R. Here, the robots are additive — they add to the labor force rather than multiplying human productivity. To complete the model in the simplest way, suppose the economy has just one sector, and that aggregate output is produced by capital and total labor, human and robotic. This output provides for the country’s consumption, with the rest going toward investment, thus increasing the capital stock.
What is the initial economic impact when these additive robots arrive? Elementary economics shows that an increase in total labor relative to initial capital — a drop in the capital-labor ratio — causes wages to drop and profits to rise.
There are three points to add. First, the results would be magnified if the additive robots were created from refashioned capital goods. That would yield the same increase in total labor, with a commensurate reduction in the capital stock, but the drop in the wage rate and the increase in the rate of profit would be greater.
Second, nothing would change if we adopted the Austrian School’s two-sector framework in which labor produces the capital good and the capital good produces the consumer good. The arrival of robots still would decrease the capital-labor ratio, as it did in the one-sector scenario.
Third, there is a striking parallel between the model’s additive robots and newly arrived immigrants in their impact on native workers. By pushing down the capital-labor ratio, immigrants, too, initially cause wages to drop and profits to rise. But it should be noted that with the rate of profit elevated, the rate of investment will rise. Owing to the law of diminishing returns, that additional investment will drive down the profit rate until it has fallen back to normal. At this point, the capital-labor ratio will be back to where it was before the robots arrived, and the wage rate will be pulled back up.
To be sure, the general public tends to assume that “robotization” (and automation generally) leads to a permanent disappearance of jobs, and thus to the immiseration of the working class. But such fears are exaggerated. The two models described above abstract from the familiar technological progress that drives up productivity and wages, making it reasonable to anticipate that the global economy will sustain some level of growth in labor productivity and compensation per worker.
True, sustained robotization would leave wages on a lower path than they otherwise would have taken, which would create social and political problems. It may prove desirable, as Bill Gates once suggested, to levy taxes on income from robot labor, just as countries levy taxes on income from human labor. This idea deserves careful consideration. But fears of prolonged robotization appear unrealistic. If robotic labor increased at a non-vanishing pace, it would run into limits of space, atmosphere, and so on.
Moreover, AI has brought not just “additive” robots but also “multiplicative” robots that enhance workers’ productivity. Some multiplicative robots enable people to work faster or more effectively (as in AI-assisted surgery), while others help people complete tasks they otherwise could not perform.
The arrival of multiplicative robots need not lead to a lengthy recession of aggregate employment and wages. Yet, like additive robots, they have their “downsides.” Many AI applications are not entirely safe. The obvious example is self-driving cars, which can (and have) run into pedestrians or other cars. But, of course, so do human drivers.
A society is not wrong, in principle, to deploy robots that are prone to occasional mistakes, just as we tolerate airplane pilots who are not perfect. We must judge costs and benefits. For efficiency, people ought to have the right to sue robots’ owners for damages. Inevitably, a society will feel uncomfortable with new methods that introduce “uncertainty.”
From the perspective of ethics, the interface with AI involves “imperfect” and “asymmetric” information. As Wendy Hall of the University of Southampton says, amplifying Nicholas Beale, “We can’t just rely on AI systems to act ethically because their objectives seem ethically neutral.”
Indeed, some new devices can cause serious harm. Implantable chips for cognitive enhancement, for example, can cause irreversible tissue damage in the brain. The question, then, is whether laws and procedures can be instituted to protect people from a reasonable degree of harm. Barring that, many are calling on Silicon Valley companies to establish their own “ethics committees.”
All of this reminds me of the criticism leveled at innovations throughout the history of free-market capitalism. One such critique, the book “Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft” by the sociologist Ferdinand Tonnies, ultimately became influential in Germany in the 1920s and led to the “corporatism” arising there and in Italy in the interwar period — thus bringing an end to the market economy in those countries.
Clearly, how we address the problems raised by AI will be highly consequential. But they are not yet present on a wide scale, and they are not the main cause of the dissatisfaction and resulting polarization that have gripped the West.
Original post: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/08/10/commentary/world-commentary/economic-effect-artificial-intelligence/
45 comentários em “The costs and benefits of artificial intelligence”
If some one desires to be updated with hottest technologies after that he must be pay a visit this website and be up
to date everyday.
Aw, this was a really good post. Finding the time and actual
effort to generate a very good article… but what can I say… I hesitate a
whole lot and don’t seem to get anything done.
It’s nearly impossible to find knowledgeable people about this subject,
however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about!
I love looking through an article that can make people think.
Also, thanks for permitting me to comment!
Hello! Someone in my Facebook group shared this website with us so
I came to take a look. I’m definitely loving the
information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to
my followers! Excellent blog and great style and design.
all the time i used to read smaller content which as well clear their motive,
and that is also happening with this post which I am reading now.
Good answers in return of this difficulty with real arguments and describing the whole
thing concerning that.
Howdy! I know this is sort of off-topic but I needed to ask.
Does building a well-established blog such as yours require
a massive amount work? I’m completely new to running
a blog however I do write in my journal everyday. I’d
like to start a blog so I can easily share my own experience and views online.
Please let me know if you have any kind of suggestions
or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!
It’s remarkable to pay a quick visit this website and reading the views of all mates regarding this
piece of writing, while I am also zealous of getting knowledge.
With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement?
My blog has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it seems
a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my authorization. Do you know
any techniques to help stop content from being ripped off?
I’d truly appreciate it.
Spot on with this write-up, I really feel this amazing site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see
more, thanks for the advice!
Currently it appears like Movable Type is the preferred blogging platform out there right now.
(from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?
Hello there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic.
Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My site looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone.
I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this issue.
If you have any recommendations, please share.
Have you ever thought about including a little bit more than just your
articles? I mean, what you say is important and all.
Nevertheless just imagine if you added some great graphics or video clips to
give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent
but with images and videos, this website could undeniably be one
of the greatest in its field. Great blog!
Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your web
site is magnificent, as well as the content!
Hi, I do believe this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it
😉 I’m going to revisit yet again since i have book marked it.
Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide
Whats up very nice web site!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing ..
I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also? I am happy to seek out
a lot of useful information right here in the publish, we need develop
more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . .
Everyone loves what you guys are up too. This type of clever work
and reporting! Keep up the superb works guys I’ve included you guys to my personal blogroll.
I am really inspired along with your writing abilities as well as with
the structure for your blog. Is this a paid subject or did you customize it
yourself? Either way stay up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to peer a nice
weblog like this one nowadays..
This info is worth everyone’s attention. Where can I find out more?
Your means of telling the whole thing in this piece of writing is in fact pleasant, every one
can simply be aware of it, Thanks a lot.
Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out much.
I’m hoping to offer something back and help others such as you aided me.
Hello my loved one! I want to say that this article is awesome,
nice written and include almost all important infos.
I would like to peer extra posts like this .
It’s hard to come by experienced people about this subject, however, you sound
like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks
Superb blog you have here but I was wanting to know if you
knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get advice from
other experienced people that share the same interest.
If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks a lot!
There’s certainly a great deal to learn about this subject.
I love all of the points you made.
Thanks for the marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you
might be a great author. I will always bookmark your blog and will come back later on. I
want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great job, have a nice
fantastic points altogether, you simply gained a new reader.
What might you suggest about your publish that you made a few days ago?
What a information of un-ambiguity and preserveness
of valuable know-how concerning unpredicted feelings.
This post gives clear idea for the new people of blogging, that truly how to do blogging and site-building.
I do not know whether it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing issues with your website.
It looks like some of the text on your posts are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too?
This could be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before.
I got this website from my buddy who informed me concerning this web site and at the moment this time
I am visiting this site and reading very informative articles at
If some one needs expert view regarding running a
blog after that i advise him/her to go to see this webpage, Keep up
the good job.
Fantastic goods from you, man. I have have in mind your stuff previous
to and you’re just extremely wonderful. I actually like what you have received right here, really like what you’re
saying and the way by which you assert it. You’re making it entertaining and you continue to care for to
stay it wise. I cant wait to learn far more from you. That is actually a tremendous website.
It’s very trouble-free to find out any topic on net as compared to books,
as I found this post at this web site.
Good post. I absolutely love this website.
Continue the good work!
This piece of writing gives clear idea for the new users of blogging, that actually how to do blogging and
I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else experiencing problems
with your website. It appears as if some of the text
in your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me
know if this is happening to them as well? This could be a problem with my internet browser because I’ve had this
happen previously. Thank you
I enjoy what you guys are up too. Such clever work and coverage!
Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve incorporated you guys
to my blogroll.
Hi there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I’ll definitely digg it
and personally recommend to my friends. I am sure they’ll
be benefited from this website.
Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your
website and in accession capital to assert that I acquire
in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you
access consistently fast.
Hello it’s me, I am also visiting this website on a regular basis,
this site is truly nice and the people are truly sharing nice thoughts.
I’m excited to find this site. I need to to thank you
for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely really
liked every part of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff
on your web site.
Great article, exactly what I needed.
Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some help from an established blog.
Is it hard to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick.
I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to begin.
Do you have any tips or suggestions? Cheers