What's he know about stuff?
Stephen Hawkings did a
(Ask Me Anything). The impetus of the question and answer session was to focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The AMA was run differently since Hawking was not going to just take questions and answer on the spot because of obvious limitations. So two months ago he posted:
I signed an open letter earlier this year imploring researchers to balance the benefits of AI with the risks. The letter acknowledges that AI might one day help eradicate disease and poverty, but it also puts the onus on scientists at the forefront of this technology to keep the human factor front and center of their innovations. I'm part of a campaign enabled by Nokia and hope you will join the conversation on http://www.wired.com/.... Learn more about my foundation here: http://stephenhawkingfoundation.org/
The Reddit moderators collected questions and Hawking answered them, and they were subsequently collected and posted here
. One question stood out concerning technology and labor in the future.
I'm rather late to the question-asking party, but I'll ask anyway and hope. Have you thought about the possibility of technological unemployment, where we develop automated processes that ultimately cause large unemployment by performing jobs faster and/or cheaper than people can perform them? Some compare this thought to the thoughts of the Luddites, whose revolt was caused in part by perceived technological unemployment over 100 years ago. In particular, do you foresee a world where people work less because so much work is automated? Do you think people will always either find work or manufacture more work to be done? Thank you for your time and your contributions. I’ve found research to be a largely social endeavor, and you've been an inspiration to so many.
Stephen Hawking's answer:
If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.
Part of recent Stephen Hawking's thoughts on machines and AI have been about the human component—the need for humans to remember humanity in their technological endeavors. Economics is not different.
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