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Haves and Have Nots in the AI World

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Haves and Have Nots in the AI World

Future AI systems will certainly change our world — but not necessarily for the better.

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We know that AI will have a large impact on our lives over the next decade and beyond. We're not sure exactly what that'll look like, but it's safe to say that it'll involve some job creation and some (likely more) job loss, and it'll change how many of us live, work, and play.

But more than that, it's likely to exacerbate our current economic divides. These are proving to be problematic today, and they're most likely only going to grow in the future. There's a variety of reasons for this — to begin with, our future looks like it's going to require more education than ever. And this is in societies with significant education problems, problems that will likely require generations to fix. The education that'll be required isn't the kind that you can get at a week-long boot camp, either. No, it'll require a solid understanding of math and science, the kind that you acquire over years of work. Those of us who have access to this kind of education will likely be able to adapt; those that don't are going to find fewer and fewer options open to them.

But how does AI play into this?

Well, we know that AI systems can be enormously impactful, potentially eliminating entire sectors of the workforce. They can be inexpensive and promise to provide an immense productivity boost to companies and individuals. And they can have near-zero scalability costs — but that doesn't mean that the companies that create these intelligent systems are going to sell them for anything close to this.

No, AI will likely be enormously expensive — especially in the beginning.

Some systems will be easier to develop than others, certainly; but this will not be the gauge against which companies will measure price points. Rather, companies will look at the value to the purchaser of the new system. If, for example, an AI system allows a user to save $1,000,000 per year, I deeply doubt they'll be able to buy such a system for less than $300,000. I personally expect this same kind of pricing strategy will be applied to AI systems sold to individuals.

And for individuals, they will likely be able to provide similar increases in productivity. As a result, those trying to compete without augmenting AI systems won't have much of a chance. And this will provide yet another barrier those born into poverty need to overcome to climb the socio-economic ladder.

Future AI systems will certainly change our world. But not necessarily for the better.

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ai ,machine learning ,economics

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