[ExI] The Robot Big Bang

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Sun Feb 22 14:57:27 UTC 2015

BillK <pharos at gmail.com> , 22/2/2015 11:35 AM:
On 21 February 2015 at 23:54, Anders Sandberg wrote: 
> Understanding these complications and that there likely is a big automation 
> shift matters. As does explaining it properly to decisionmakers. I am a bit 
> worried that right now it turns into a simplistic "The robots are coming, so 
> we need basic income", which means some politicians will immediately accept 
> or dismiss it depending on their views of basic income, and hence deduce 
> that robots are either a problem or not a problem... 
A starving population is a political problem. 
Note the millions receiving food stamps (and the millions in prison) 
in the USA and the desperate attempts in the UK to try and reduce 
welfare costs. 

You are missing my point. What is seen as a problem often depends on one's political outlook. And whether a problem is acknowledged may depend on whether the solutions are acceptable or not. 

In the US poverty and incarceration are not seen as major problems by a large fraction of people. One strong reason IMHO is that many suggested solutions - redistribution, unified healthcare systems, a non-retributive penal system - are unacceptable to them for ideological reasons. Yes, this is totally backwards. In a sane world people would identify problems first, then look for solutions, and then agree on the acceptable ones. But in practice people turn things around. Which is why so many of your politicians are convinced there cannot be anthopogenic climate change - the proposed solutions smell bad ideologically. 


So if you want to sell politicians on the idea that the robots are coming, do not link it too strongly to a particular socioeconomic remedy. 

Otherwise, I foresee a real risk that we will end up with the US liberals embracing the robot big bang as a reason to have guaranteed basic income, and hence the US conservatives systematically blocking any research into AI consequences as a result. The end result might be no income and no safety at all. 

Anders Sandberg, Future of Humanity Institute Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University
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