My work at OpenAI reminds me every day about the magnitude of the socio-economic change that is coming sooner than most people believe. Software that can think and learn will do more and more of the work that people now do. Even more, power will shift from labor to capital. If public policy doesn’t adapt accordingly, most people will end up worse off than they are today.
We need to design a system that embraces this technological future and taxes the assets that will make up most of the value in that world–companies and land–in order to fairly distribute some of the coming wealth. Doing so can make the society of the future much less divisive and enable everyone to participate in its gains.
In the next five years, computer programs that can think will read legal documents and give medical advice. In the next decade, they will do assembly-line work and maybe even become companions. And in the decades after that, they will do almost everything, including making new scientific discoveries that will expand our concept of “everything.”
This technological revolution is unstoppable. And a recursive loop of innovation, as these smart machines themselves help us make smarter machines, will accelerate the revolution’s pace. Three crucial consequences follow:
- This revolution will create phenomenal wealth. The price of many kinds of labor (which drives the costs of goods and services) will fall toward zero once sufficiently powerful AI “joins the workforce.”
- The world will change so rapidly and drastically that an equally drastic change in policy will be needed to distribute this wealth and enable more people to pursue the life they want.
- If we get both of these right, we can improve the standard of living for people more than we ever have before.