( A five-minute read that might change your life.)
The last two posts were an attempt to highlight the fact that Artificial Intelligence is changing the way we think and bemoaned the fact that our world is accepting this without an oversight.
This heading is self-explanatory.
Without us noticing, we are entering the post capitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy.
It’s starting to feel like humans have made themselves redundant in their own economy. The first stage of an economy beyond capitalism.
The knowledge content of products is becoming more valuable than the physical things that are used to produce them. Today, the thing that is corroding capitalism, barely rationalised by mainstream economics, is information.
Any variable to success can be bought and sold, and that means for those who have wealth, they can buy success instead of creating it – the arrival of Twitter President Donald Trump.
It’s a shift in the ‘fairness’ of capitalism, and the reward for someone putting in effort. When capital can beat humans on thinking, it’s hard to create a marketplace that doesn’t resemble feudalism (albeit minus the harsh living conditions).
For a long time, artificial intelligence was little more than science fiction — now it’s now just a matter of time before AI isn’t just a static piece of IP.
It’s capable of building entirely new monopolies, businesses and ‘things’ all by itself.
It will and is already creating monopolies.
Here’s a stark reality:
Innovation is also much, much harder in a world driven by individuals owning large swathes of AI resource. Why? Because innovation will increasingly be defined by world views of a single person, rather than the thinking power of many.
Today’s great leaders must empathise with the perspectives of many and convince people that they’re making the right choice. It’s tricky and often means concessions and understanding problems outside of specific world views.
If they could solve problems however they wanted with whomever they wanted, that paradigm shifts. You might start finding that someone in control of AI resources only solved problems for themselves. Humans are, after all, selfish creatures.
Capitalism has been fuelled by the ability to create creative monopolies and be rewarded for it. But the shift we’re about to experience is profound — for the first time, capital will become a source of those creative monopolies rather than just a product.
Putting aside the ethics for a second,
AI is essentially a new form of inter-species slavery.
Instead of relying on our fellow species, we’re creating automated, non-human slaves. AI are just cattle versions of intelligence (once is created/bred for meat, the other for intelligence).
Ethically that may pose a problem, but conceptually, it positions AI differently to ‘owned’ property — mostly because it shifts the market based on who owns them.
Rather than capital now being a source of ownership and minor wealth generation, it can now be a source of exponential wealth creation — simply because AI continuously evolves and builds upon itself. It’s unique because it isn’t a static capital item.
Capitalism’s greatest threat is it’s own progress. The technology capitalism has created is systematically undermining it. Which is why we may have to rethink it.
We live in a world where not everyone’s effort is equal. Yes, capitalism is grossly unfair in some parts — based on your birth, inheritance and a range of other factors. But it’s also one of the only systems we have the accounts for the effort you put in to produce things that other people want to use.
Automation is coming. And with it, the tasks you and I would normally do for jobs aren’t going to be there.
The GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) Internet giants, as well as IBM, have all been investing massively in the field.
It wont be long before we have Self-aware AI a billion times more powerful than all of the human brains on the planet and it will crush human intelligence as early as 2045.
We will make machines that can reason, think and make things better than we do.
It is potentially more dangerous” than nuclear weapons, or climate change .
To compete with robots, Google proposes transhumanism, i.e. turning humans into cyborgs.
By 2035, we’ll have nanobots implanted into our brains and connected to our neurons to “upgrade” both our mental and physical capabilities.
Paradoxically, the ultimate tool to avoid the human race’s vassalization would also be the instrument of its suicide. The human-AI hybrid would indeed mean the death knell for the 1.0 biological human.
Artificial intelligence could cause another significant casualty: Money.
In our meritocratic societies, the difference in intellectual abilities are, rightly or wrongly, the primary reason for the wage and capital gap. But AI would break this very notion. Eventually, human intelligence will be ridiculous compared to that of machines.
So the question is, in such a world will we accept that some people earn 1,000 times more than others?
If we accept Google’s brain nanobots, what will be the legitimacy of any revenue gap between people, since our performances will be linked to the power of our brain aids, and not to our inherent qualities?
Besides, a society driven by artificial intelligence will be a society without work, which will render the mere function of money useless. If we’re able to emulate a billion cancer scientists on an array of hard drives in a few seconds, what will be the value of a human oncologist?
All goods and services will be created and produced by machines in an infinitely more efficient way that any human being can, even an upgraded one. The meritocratic system will go up in smoke.
And how to organize the distribution of capital if merit is impossible?
The best solution will without a doubt be the equal redistribution of goods and services among individuals, a communism 2.0 of sorts in which everybody will be provided for according to their needs and not according to their work.
It will be artificial intelligence — not economists like Thomas Piketty — that puts and end to the wage gap. Capitalism simply won’t survive intelligent machines.
I don’t understand why some people are not concerned.
The people who controlled AI’s would have a disproportionate amount of power early on, as they’d be able to more rapidly automate most of their work.
Rather than a monopoly on products, you have a monopoly on ‘thinking power’ — the very thing that eroded capitalist monopolies originally.
As technology continues to eliminate traditional jobs and massive new wealth gets created, we’re going to see the need for a Universal Basic Income some version of this at a national scale.
If you don’t believe the automation argument, take a look at the below graph.
Every industry has the potential to be automated. Fishing can be done by drones. Farming too. There’s very little examples of a menial task that can’t be done by a robot. That sounds like utopia, but until we recognise that it means whoever has the most money will win forever, it’s going to be a pretty shocking life for most of us.
That’s why it’s important to recognise that AI is not just a new form of technology, but a brand new class of capital which automates the ‘last’ parts of humanity: thinking.
Humans are destined to become a layer over the top of AI.
Arguably we can already buy brainpower. But the great thing about human labour is there is some form of negotiation — mostly in the form of the vote at the ballot box which defines workers rights, unions and a number of laws and checks and balances.
With AI it’s hard to see what rights the AI will have unless it is completely independent (a problem in a class of its own).
AI is sentient but created for a purpose. Does that strip it of it’s right to autonomy? I’m not sure.
If we accept that AI is a new class of capital which also allows for (relatively) unlimited work to be done, then we also have to start to realise that we no longer need to be around in our own economy.
What is the solution?
Make AI common property, tax it and use the new automated/robotic workforce to fuel our work. Use the labour that AI creates and the wealth created to give people a Universal Basic Income.
In the end, it isn’t going to be a revolution that breaks capitalism.
All the things capitalism has given us is going to be what brings it undone. When you put AI, automation and capitalism together, it’s clear that we don’t just need new technologies. We need a new social system. We need a project based on reason, evidence and testable designs, that cuts with the grain of history and is sustainable by the planet.
If we don’t vet all technology for the benefits to us all, there will be little point in getting an education if all knowledge is artificial and all that’s is left is Greed and profit.
With no moral reasoning and based on ruthless optimization processes which provide much cheaper and more efficient solutions for companies around the world – poses a deeply unsettling challenges to the way we model our society.
AI could rig elections, subvert markets, or become dangerous military technology.
It’s time to dump your Super Market Loyalty or Fidelity Card, get you face out of your Smartphone and become smart by demanding the Establishment of a New World Body that is totally transparent and independent:
To vet all Aps and any artificial Intelligence software that is motivated by Profit.
All Non AI comments welcome.