As an AI researcher, I think I am required to have an opinion about this. Here's what I have to say to the various tribes.
AI-pessimists: please remember that the Luddites have been wrong about technology causing economic cataclysm every time so far. We're talking about several consecutive centuries of wrongness. 1 Please revise your confidence estimates downwards.
AI-optimists: please remember that just because the pessimists have always been wrong in the past does not mean that they must always be wrong in the future. It is not a natural law that the optimists must be right. That labor markets have adapted in the long term does not mean that they must adapt, to say nothing of short-term dislocations. Please revise your confidence estimates downwards.
Everyone: many forms of technology are substitutes for labor. Many forms of technology are complements to labor. Often a single form of technology is both simultaneously. It is impossible to determine a priori which effect will dominate. 2 This is true of everything from the mouldboard plough to a convolutional neural network. Don't casually assert AI/ML/robots are qualitatively different. (For example, why does Bill Gates think we need a special tax on robots that is distinct from a tax on any other capital equipment?)
As always, please exercise cognitive and epistemic humility.
- I am aware of the work of Gregory Clark and others related to Industrial Revolution era wage and consumption stagnation. If a disaster requires complicated statistical models to provide evidence it exists, I say its scale can not have been that disastrous. [↩]
- Who correctly predicted that the introduction of ATMs would coincide with an increase in employment of bank tellers? Anyone? Anyone? Beuller? [↩]