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J. Storrs Hall on Economic Growth Given Machine Intelligence

J. Storrs Hall read the recent Robin Hanson post on economics and machine intelligence. Here's his suggestion:

It seems to me that one obvious way to ameliorate the impact of the AI/robotics revolution in the economic world, then, is simple: build robots whose cognitive architectures are enough different from humans that their relative skillfullness at various tasks will differ from ours. Then, even after they are actually better at everything than we are, the law of comparative advantage will still hold.

Boom, friendliness problem solved. Build robots with different cognitive architectures than us, and they will be forced to keep us around, due to Ricardo's law of comparative advantage. Sounds wildly naive to me.

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  1. By the way comparative advantage is defined it’s logically impossible for every human to not have a comparative advantage even in a world in which robots are better than us at everything.

    I think Hanson would argue that cheaply produced robots would drive down wages and cause most of the wealth of society to go to capital owners and this would impoverish humans that didn’t own capital.

    My view is that to work in a huge number of fields you need permission of the government or a government empowered body (i.e. doctors, lawyers, teachers.) It seems likely that governments would prevent robots from competing with large classes of workers and this will prevent robots from driving down human wages.

  2. Trying to keep humans economically competitive in a world of strong AI and molecular manufacturing strikes me as both daunting and misguided. Automation should improve everyone’s life by increasing sustainable consumption and free time. The capitalist system will become more and more absurd as productivity increases.

  3. Governments seem highly unlikely to prevent machines from competing with humans for roles like doctor, lawyer and teacher – that would be impossible to regulate and would make a mess of their economies. Company director might be a protected role initially, though.

    The government has consistently been on the side of machines so far – e.g. see DARPA.

    It seems more likely that redundant humans will be supported on welfare by taxation.

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