A Three-Pronged Analysis of Artificial Intelligence
What’s the point of self-driving cars if no one can afford it? In this article, we examine how a balance is needed between development and policy – in three different pillars of historical themes.
As with all human events, new technologies, discoveries, and trends tend to converge into 3 main categories: political, social, and economic impacts. These themes continually appear throughout the history of great empires in Europe, and, of course, applied to the founding of the US. And soon, the decisions we make today on this new breed of “living intelligence” will become history as well:
By far, one of the biggest impacts will be economical. Within the theme of economics, many significant topics stand out. For example, for centuries, markets, prices, and jobs have all been controlled by humans. Superhuman intelligence has the possibility to affect financial markets like the stock market, giving rise to an oligopolistic congregation of firms. One of the major factors to stop such development will be federal policies to prevent this type of evolution of the market.
Prices will also largely be affected with AI – the cost of a backpack or shirt you order from Amazon may be determined by a neural network (known as algorithmic pricing), hurting consumer surplus and raising large security concerns. The government again has the power to stop sellers from stalking their buyers.
And finally, the most news-trending topic on the news today: jobs. As AI gets smarter, simple and/or blue-collar jobs may be taken over by cheaper robots (which don’t have a minimum wage), drastically cutting the demand for human labor down. If the government were to impose a “minimum wage” for robots, perhaps in the form of a tax, who knows what problems may be prevented?
These economic impacts have a large spillover effect on the social problems created by AI. When we look at the human species, we see a continual trend of greed. For some, this is a greed for having a happy, love-filled life. But for the majority of the world, when we look at the social trends on the media today, we see how wealth-centralized our society has become.
Thus, when a large number of workers suddenly get their paychecks slashed, and can no longer find work, society reaches a terrible social disaster. And furthermore, it becomes magnified when these jobs are taken by unfamiliar aliens – robots, who have no emotional connections to these workers, and are yet stripping them of their jobs. The psychological response to such a situation is reflected in a mix of social nativism and economic tension that is displayed by anti-immigration American workers.
Political revolts like Bacon’s Rebellion in 1700s Virginia shows how an economic inequality gap can lead to conflict and turmoil. Unsurprisingly, the solution to this problem is again policy – recognizing that a large imbalance will be caused, and attempting to offset this problem, is the best way to prevent another Bacon’s Rebellion. Maybe the reason the rich are buying islands is because they want to hide from society and the masses?
But wait, you say. Wouldn’t the better living standards created by AI offset the loss of jobs? Self-driving cars, giving medical diagnoses, and Alexa-like “secretary” assistance are all great, right? Unfortunately, these technologies are largely for more wealthy people. Poor families may not be able to afford a self-driving car, get a medical checkup, or buy an Alexa. However, they nevertheless take the majority of the hit from a loss of jobs.
Of course, movies like Terminator or videos like Slaughterbots have become popular in recent years. Last but not least come the political impacts of AI. Privatized use of armed intelligent robots, and the resulting militarized use of such technologies, will lead to a huge arms race for the best AI. As shown by the cold war, preemptive dialogue must be enacted between countries to stop such practices from ever taking place.
But that’s not all. Unlike decades ago, AI is much cheaper than a nuclear weapon. Not just keeping in check other countries, but regulating our own companies and citizens, is a must, to keep an equal balance of power. If even the right to own a gun is being challenged, there is no doubt that armed killer tank drones should not be roaming the streets. After all, if it shot someone, who would the blame be placed on?
Placing regulations on, not all of AI, but just the development of this harmful application of technology, will be a great step in the right direction, limiting both civil and inter-country warfare. If not, better self-driving car technology and the increased implementation of AI into today’s drones will mark the start of an AI weaponry race.
As with any world-changing, broad technological advancement, the opportunity to do good is the same as the opportunity to do bad. If we want to keep people working, keep the average living standards up for all, and prevent violence from getting out of control, the work that public policy makers do is crucial.
Because, again, what’s the point of a self-driving car if no one can afford it?