The concept of power is an important concept for understanding the effects of advanced AI.
Power can be seen as the goal of states, corporations, and individuals. But what is power? Power can be defined as control over resources and capabilities. Power results in the ability to exert influence over outcomes, events, actors, and issues.
In economic game theory power entails:
- ability to change another's available choices
- ability to change the cost of another's actions
- change the probability of an action leading to a given outcome
- or change another's beliefs about their incentive structure
Smarter-than-human AI is powerful. Humans dominate other species not because we are stronger but because we are smarter, and our intelligence makes us more powerful. Smarter-than-human AI could dominate humans in the same way. Malevolence or technology spinning out of control isn't needed for there to be a serious problem.
The current power structure explains the current global reality:
- World GDP: $76 billion
- World population: 7.4 billion
- GDP per capita: $28/day
Unequal power leads to:
- Lack of control over resources and capabilities: food, shelter, and education
- Removal of choices: ability to work or migrate
- Changes the cost of choices: unaffordability of patented medicines
In the current global reality there is little in the way of compassion or charity. Aid by the most powerful actor (the U.S. government) to those most in need (bottom 2.1 billion) amounts to $0.03/day per individual. ($23b FY2013 poverty focused foreign aid).
A new global power structure will result in a new global reality. Near-human-level AI could increase the power imbalance, leaving the majority of humanity in a resource poor jail. A massive increase in global compassion and charity could prevent this.
Smarter-than-human AI may initially be very expensive:
- Perhaps $700/hr if based on neuromorphic technology
- Not available to most
- Readily available to states, corporations
- Will be used to further their goals and objectives
But prices could fall rapidly:
- This is a problem more than a solution
- Most individuals posses little capital
- They exchange physical or intellectual labor for physical goods
- Little demand for inferior labor
Wait a minute! Doesn't technology improve the standard of living? Actually it is a mixed bag. Technology increases individual power and raises living standards when it amplifies the fruits of individual labor. Technology reduces individual power when it amplifies the power of the powerful by, as a side effect, reducing individuals choices, costs, outcomes, and beliefs. Historically technology has mainly increased individual power. As technology takes away the choice to work for a living, it appears as if it will, unless there is a massive increase in global compassion, reduce the power of all but the most powerful.