Thursday, August 03, 2023

AI will boost the economy by [insert your ludicrous claim here]

 Every day there's another request from policy people to tech people to predict how and where AI will help the economy. The latest one I've seen in the UK had a "pulled out of thin air" claim that AI was going to boost the economy by 6%, and represented the 4th (or is it 3rd or 5th) industrial revolution since {fire, wheel, steel, steam, production lines, electricity,advertising,internet, etc etc)

Aside from the fact that most the past revolutions didn't have the impact claimed, or certainly not in the way described e.g. miners and factory workers were poorer than tenant farmers, both in money terms and in quality and length of life. And they were a large fraction of the population for a while. I bet the same will be found about office and information workers too. this isn't just about bullshit jobs, it is worse - it is about the cheapest way for capitalism to operate.

so for AI to do the things the techno-optimist brainwashed dimwit policy people claim, it would largely be working in optimisation of existing practices. since you can't live in an AI instead of a house, nor can you eat or breath an AI, or ride the AI across the land and sea, nor can you power your heating or A/C with an AI.  All it can do is make some of these things work a bit better.

But we've been optimising systems for hundreds of years - partly through the "invisible hand", but also explicitly - transportation and  utility providers (often when state operated) employed hundreds of operations researchers to optimise the services. The electricity grids and rail networks were marvels of efficiency. They could only get worse by privatisation.

So now we expect private companies operating AI to make sub-optimal services better? ironic eh. Absolutely no way, jose, is that going to work.

Just another HS2 waiting to happen, just another NHS IT project hovering in the wings. No-one honest should be involved in any of these projects until someone (aristotle, jesus, laozi, marx, kropotkin, piketty, someone even smarter?) devises a replacement for the economic fiasco that the descendants of Adam Smith and F.A.Hayek mysteriously still adore.

Hey, maybe the sign of real AGI will be that a machine will propose an explainable, feasible, and deployable replacement for capitalism and the patriarchy.

We live in hope. foolishly.

No comments: