Channel: Artificial Intelligence
Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 1375

This AI expert says that a robot economy will force us to give people unconditional free money


kids and moneyIn the future, giving people unconditional free money might be the fairest way to deal with a robot-powered economy.

At least, that's what data scientist and artificial intelligence expert Jeremy Howard believes.

According to Howard, the pool of displaced workers will just keep growing exponentially, and the solution is to level the playing field.

Howard delivered this argument in a recent panel discussion held at Singularity University, a futurist think tank and incubator located in Silicon Valley.

By Howard's logic, once AI displaces those workers, society will have a choice to make.

"Do you want half of people to starve because they literally can't add economic value, or not?" Howard asks.

If the answer is not, he says, then the smartest way to distribute the wealth is by implementing a universal basic income — a system of wealth distribution based not on effort or skill level, but on the simple premise that everyone deserves the same amount to live comfortably.

"In a post-scarcity world, why hold back wealth from people just because they can't provide labor inputs just to create wealth?" he says.

In other words, a world in which people are less useful for their labor is one where there is virtually no competitive edge to demand higher wages. Everyone will have the same merits, so they will be entitled to the same compensation.

Pretty much since it was introduced, the idea that a society could run better if the government gave its citizens unconditional free money — whether they work or not — has been politically divisive.

People tend to argue it would either unite everyone (because everyone earns the same) or divide everyone (because it ignores effort and skill level).

Basic income has been tested for decades. Last month, Finland voted to give the system a try starting in 2016. In the Netherlands, it has been spreading rapidly since the Dutch city of Utrecht launched an experimental program earlier this summer.

The US even tested out a system in the 1960s under the Nixon administration, although the experiment eventually fizzled.

Howard's theories may sound radical, but the general consensus among AI researchers is that many jobs are currently at risk.

Not all jobs will disappear. Creative professions and jobs requiring highly specific critical thinking skills — like engineering or police work — are likely immune. But similar to how automated machinery replaced the assembly line worker, AI could make jobs like teaching or surgery obsolete given how quickly the technology is progressing.

Howard's aha moment happened over the last two years with the increasing popularity of a type of advanced machine learning called "deep learning" that has created huge breakthroughs in AI. 

Perhaps in the next decade or two, basic income could be the next AI-driven revolution.

SEE ALSO: The best science fiction, as picked by 20 A.I. experts

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: NASA shows off their humanoid robot that they want to send to Mars

Viewing all articles
Browse latest Browse all 1375

Latest Images

Trending Articles

Latest Images