Saturday, February 22, 2014

Carole Cadwalladr — Are the robots about to rise? Google’s new director of engineering thinks so…


Ray Kurzweil is given all the resources of Google to play with. AI, the Singularity, and other stuff. Something's going to come out of it, and Google is betting it is going to make a boatload of money.

But what is pretty clear is that with AI likely not far off, money will not be needed to run a primitive distribution system like a monetary economy in a superabundant and omniscient environment.

7 comments:

Dan Kervick said...

Well, compared to the lives of our remote ancestors, we live in a superabundant environment. And yet money is still going strong in our economy.

So long as there is private property and the private accumulation and control of capital and production, and so long as people have some choices about how to dispense with there resources, there will be money.

Tom Hickey said...

When everything is in the box of AI, the system will know what you are going to want before you do and deliver to you just on time, and that goes for everyone. I really do believe this is possible. Now the only question is how soon.

That depends not on humans' ability to adapt sufficiently before AI advances to the point being able to take control. I really think that climate change could set humanity back by centuries and possibly change the game altogether. It's a race with destiny.

Michael Norman said...

There will be massive inequality in distribution. It will drive immense poverty as abundance becomes concentrated among those who control the robots. Workers, now obsolete, will have ZERO participation in the output (wealth). It's already happening now.

Bob said...

Robots capable of performing useful tasks, as motile animals do, remain a fantasy.

In a world where billions don't have access to proper sanitation, I don't give a shit about some pompous fool who believes he can live forever.

Ryan Harris said...

Google is Santa Ana leading the Technological army toward driver automation. And labor is making it's last stand on the government's roadways. People can hope and pray Government will slow down the assault by holding up the approvals for robots to use public highways, but eventually it will happen, and it begins in the next couple years and it costs ten of millions of high paying jobs. At the same time the lowest level of the white collar service economy has already been made obsolete and are being replaced except where protected by government: teachers, reporters, professors, accountants, clerks. Probably a third to half the labor force will have nothing but government standing between themselves and their professional demise by decade end. For once, we may get a majority support to oppose what tech geeks and economists consider "inevitable."

In the long run government must play a greater role in efficiently allocating resources in a slower growing low investment economy. It is the elephant in the room. No one really has a plan on the efficient part, least of all MMT, which leaves that part to politics and markets which are neither efficient nor fair.

Dan Kervick said...

Tom, I guess that kind of perfectly planned system is possible in principle, but you are assuming that liquidity preference will somehow disappear, and that people will be paid - or receive their social stipends or whatever - in goods and services alone rather than in a more liquid medium of exchange that they can use to purchase goods and services later as their tastes and needs evolve.

Tom Hickey said...

I have no idea how or if it will come about, but if AI happens as Kurzweil expects, it will certainly be possible. The reason I think it will happen if available is due to the efficiencies involved. I don't think it will happen overnight. There will be phase transition as inefficiencies are eliminated.

The same with robotics and automation. What is now thought of as a bug (unemployment) will get appreciated eventually as a feature.

This has actually been the trend since the advent of science and technology, which spawned capitalism in the machine age in the transition from feudalism of the agricultural age. What the next transition is going to be in as yet unclear but it's clear that the digital age is gong to produce a politics and economics suitable to it. We are just at the very beginning stages.

The agricultural age lasted for millennia and went through many transformations. Capitalism is only hundreds of years old and it too has gone through several transformations. We are just entering the digital age and what it will bring is pretty much sci-fi (space fiction for Brits) now.

What we have seen though is the pace of change increasing exponentially with Moore's "law." It's too soon to tell whether it is actually a law, but even if the rate of increases falls off somewhat, if it remains exponential, then we can foresee huge changes in relatively sort periods.

A factor that some have already mentioned is the increase in knowledge as well as its dissemination in the digital age, which is also the global age and the information-knowledge age. This promises the possibility of much more populism and decentralization. Previous obstacles are melting away, and undreamed of opportunities opening.