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AI will one day fund free cash handouts : True or False?

Sam Altman, OpenAI CEO, recently created a ripple with his blogpost that posed a claim that in the next ten years, artificial intelligence could generate enough wealth to pay every adult, a whopping amount of $13,500 year. The idea is a fine one, almost touching the high optimism ground. However we do not live in an ideal world, which is why this particular claim has kick started a chain of discussions and debates.

Artificial Intelligence

The blog has been interpreted in various ways, with some in the AI field believing that companies based on AI will reach a threshold of such wealth and power that they would be equipped to provide a basic universal income to everyone.

However experts and critics are expressing their disagreement over Altman’s views, which they believe to be capable of more harm, and rather misleading as to the progress of artificial intelligence.

According to economist Glen Weyl,

“This beautifully epitomizes the AI ideology that I believe is the most dangerous force in the world today.”

There are more disagreements over agreement over this extremely ideal claim that portrays a future wherein the OpenAI CEO envisages a future whose controls, financial and industrial, completely rests in the hands of AI communities. Almost to the extend where “percentage of OpenAI’s income could bankroll UBI for every citizen in America,” according to an anonymous industry source.

The same source expounded the illusory element present in this ideal, comparing Altman to yet another of the long string of capitalists who put in efforts to persuade government to bring in oligarchy. Though this idea will intrigue the politicians due to the tax revenue and the popularity that comes with paying voter salaries, when weighed against the hard stone of reality, it falls short.

Taxing Capital

One of the major points of attraction of the blogpost was the emphasis on tax capital in place of labor. Altman had explained the scope of a certain ‘American Equity Fund’ that could generate enough money to cater to the basic needs of people whether it be housing, education or health. This fund, according to Altman could be a deal breaker in reducing poverty, endowing people with better opportunities and a better standard of living.

Though these ideas might seem rather radical and reformatory, the case is not so. These ideas have been on the periphery for a very long time. However, with time, added with certain levels of eloquence and persuasion, it has taken center stage among tech elites.

Most experts are of the opinion that these ideas are too muddled and devoid of clarity, and that they cannot be deemed reasonable, neither from the point of view of technology nor from that of economy. Richard Miller, founder of Miller-Klein, a tech consultancy firm, expressed his view that “the model is unfettered capitalism.”

In conclusion, most of the experts aren’t exactly foreseeing a revolution when it comes to artificial intelligence. The situations wherein Artificial General Intelligence can change the rubrics of the world completely, is according to many, highly hypothetical and likely to remain so.

Here is what Daron Acemoglu(economist, MIT) has to say about it,

“One can say and some do, ‘Oh it’s just around the corner.’ But the premise of that doesn’t seem to be very well articulated. It was just around the corner 10 years ago and it hasn’t come.”




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