The Third IR

Paul Krugman takes on the third industrial revolution, and is nearly perfect in his analysis:

And this means that in a sense we are moving toward something like my intelligent-robots world; many, many tasks are becoming machine-friendly. This in turn means that Gordon is probably wrong about diminishing returns to technology.

Ah, you ask, but what about the people? Very good question. Smart machines may make higher GDP possible, but also reduce the demand for people — including smart people. So we could be looking at a society that grows ever richer, but in which all the gains in wealth accrue to whoever owns the robots.

And then eventually Skynet decides to kill us all, but that’s another story.

Of course smart AI people have been saying all this for a while. And I think the earlier part of his essay underestimates how fast this is happening.


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