America or China: the parent nations of the world
In the world of tomorrow there will be only two nations: America and China. Artificial intelligence (AI) firms of these superpowers will develop technology which is beyond competition, says Dr Kai-Fu Lee, the oracle of Chinese tech.
Lee predicted that AI will lead to “enormous wealth concentrated in relatively few hands”, “enormous numbers of people out of work”, and “unprecedented economic inequalities”, in an opinion piece for the New York Times.
America and China can counter the acceleration of wealth inequality that AI will bring about, through taxation and providing a “universal basic income”, said Lee, founder of venture capital firm, Sinnovation Ventures.
“A.I. is an industry in which strength begets strength”, explained Lee, “the more data you have, the better your product; the better your product, the more data you can collect”
However, any nation that lags behind in AI will not have the option of taxing their super rich AI firms, which will have been crushed by overly dominant Chinese and US tech companies.
As the Chinese and American AI firms continue to grow, other nations will choose whether to “plunge their people into poverty” or negotiate welfare subsidies for allowing free access to their country’s users.
Why will China and the US become so dominant? “A.I. is an industry in which strength begets strength”, explained Lee, “the more data you have, the better your product; the better your product, the more data you can collect”.
The AI revolution as seen by Lee is unlike technological revolutions before it, like the Industrial Revolution and Computer Revolution, as it “is not taking certain jobs…and replacing them with other jobs”.
Lee said that “Bank tellers, customer service representatives, telemarketers, stock and bond traders”, “paralegals and radiologists”, “factory workers, construction workers, drivers, delivery workers”, and more will be redundant.
AI will also invert certain trends, like the benefits of having a large population, felt by China and India in recent years, who will now suffer from a population of redundant workers. Except China will have vastly wealthy AI tycoons to tax.
Lee predicted that AI will lead to “enormous wealth concentrated in relatively few hands”, “enormous numbers of people out of work”, and “unprecedented economic inequalities”
There is hope, Lee emphasised, if human workers take up “service of love” employment, uniquely human roles such as caring for the elderly, social services, and supporting people in groups like Alcoholics Anonymous.
“Virtual Reality Anonymous (for those addicted to their parallel lives in computer-generated simulations)”, could be among a number of new support groups which only humans can manage, Lee said.
However, wages for “service of love” roles will be generated by taxing monolithic AI firms, based in America and China, so smaller nations will still have to go hat in hand to whichever “parent” nation supplies their AI.
Lee doesn’t say whether this change in the global structure can, or should, be resisted, but urges us to “to rethink economic inequality on a global scale”, and argues that no nation can isolate itself from these issues.