Three-hundred-fifty artificial intelligence (AI) executives, researchers, and engineers issued a dire warning Tuesday that the technology poses an existential threat to humanity.
“Mitigating the risk of extinction from A.I. should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks, such as pandemics and nuclear war,” said a 23-word statement released by the Center for AI Safety, a nonprofit organization.
While the bellicose warning sounds like something out of a bad science-fiction novel, it is good news. It’s a stark contrast from the introduction of the internet in the 1990s, which led to social networks that have bad effects on mental health of children, are weaponized by foreign adversaries to polarize Americans, and may harm more than help American society.
AI is a watershed in expanding knowledge, and it is dominated by American companies, computer scientists, academics, and entrepreneurs. AI is expected to reshape the U.S. labor force in the years immediately ahead.
A quarter of the tasks performed by American workers in 2023 are expected to be automated by AI by 2030, according to a recent Goldman Sachs study, and U.S. labor productivity is expected to surge by 1.5 percentage points annually for the next decade. In comparison, in the decade ended 2022, labor productivity rose by 1.3% cumulatively over the 10-year period – a tenfold increase over the decade ended Dec. 31, 2022. Growth in productivity would enable the U.S. to produce and consume increasingly more goods and services for the same amount of work.
Higher productivity translates into greater American prosperity, but it will cause disruptions in the labor market and a greater need for retraining white collar workers. Tens of millions of workers are predicted to find parts of their jobs will be automated and will need to be retrained or find new jobs.
The introduction earlier this year of generative AI search engines by Microsoft Bing and Alphabet Google has been markedly different from the introduction of search engines and social networks. AI’s inventors learned from the surge in the suicide rate in teenage girls, election manipulation by foreign adversaries, and bad effects social media has on people.
The introduction of AI is being guided by a consortium of experts asking for input while applications using AI are being launched. Unlike the previous tech revolutions that brought us search engines in the 1990s and social networking in the aughts, the introduction of AI reflects a humbling of technology scientists. The last big thing was not so great for American society, and computer scientists learned from those mistakes and are wary of AI’s potential dangers.
Yesterday’s statement by the Center for AI Safety indicates the introduction of AI will be managed more carefully than the launch of social media. Independent consortiums, like the Center for AI Safety, are cropping up and playing an important role in regulating the introduction of AI by getting a consensus opinion of experts before unleashing new applications of artificial intelligence on society. This is very good news for investors.
AI is going to affect financial decisions for corporate executives, business owners, and families in 2023. The burst in labor productivity will threaten many jobs of corporate employees. Business owners will need to examine ways to adopt AI to boost productivity and consider how to retrain staff. Family wealth will need to be reevaluated for the risk posed by AI to closely-held companies and private partnership investments.
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