Socioeconomics of Disruptive Tech
Rethinking Economics NL, 2021
This interview brings two experts together to discuss the positive and negative aspects of AI. Althought neoclassical theory considers technology as fundamentally labour-augmenting, e.g. through the production function, the exponential industrialisation and digitalisation of the last decades have often resulted in the destruction of work places rather than the enhancement of workers' productivity. The two interviewees point out several ways in which a broader conception of AI and of its purposes can lead to the sustainable and equitable developement of modern societies. To mention a few examples, AI could enable student-centered teaching and reduce inequalities in the educational system, which are among the drivers of uneven income distribution. AI could also benefit the healthcare system and it could help tackling the climate emergency, but economic-political coordination as well as appropriate institutional frameworks are necessary conditions.
Comment from our editors:
For the first interview of this interview series Daron Acemoğlu (Institute professor at MIT) and Martin Wolf (Chief Economics Commentator of the Financial Times) explored how disruptive technologies are affecting our economy and society from the perspective of political economy, history, and economic theory. They highlight the core difference between AI in the narrow sense and in the broad sense. The former has sharpened inequalities, but the latter can be the key for the transition towards a more equitable, sustainable world. Politics is recognized a central role in this necessary directional change.
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