CNBC wrote recently, “Artificial intelligence will create so much wealth that every adult in the United States could be paid $13,500 per year from its windfall as soon as 10 years from now. So says Sam Altman, co-founder and president of San Francisco-headquartered, artificial intelligence-focused nonprofit OpenAI…”
[I]f the government collects and redistributes the wealth that AI will generate, AI’s exponential productivity gains could “make the society of the future much less divisive and enable everyone to participate in its gains,” Altman says…. As the pace of development accelerates, AI “will create phenomenal wealth” but at the same time the price of labor “will fall towards zero,” Altman said. “It sounds utopian, but it’s something technology can deliver (and in some cases already has). Imagine a world where, for decades, everything — housing, education, food, clothing, etc. — became half as expensive every two years.”
In this future, where wealth will come from companies and land, governments should tax capital, not labor, and those taxes should be distributed to citizens, Altman said. In his post, Altman proposed an American Equity Fund that taxes sufficiently large companies 2.5% of their market value in the form of company shares, and 2.5% of the value of all land in the form of dollars… All citizens over 18 would receive payment in both dollars and company shares…. “As people’s individual assets rise in tandem with the country’s, they have a literal stake in seeing their country do well,” Altman said. With this system in mind, in 10 years, the 250 million adults living in America would get $13,500 per year, Altman said… “That dividend could be much higher if AI accelerates growth, but even if it’s not, $13,500 will have much greater purchasing power than it does now because technology will have greatly reduced the cost of goods and services,” Altman wrote. “And that effective purchasing power will go up dramatically every year.”
Elon Musk has hinted at a similar future. “There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk told CNBC in 2016. “Yeah, I am not sure what else one would do. I think that is what would happen.” Musk is also a co-founder of OpenAI but left the board in 2018 citing the fact that Tesla was becoming an AI company as it developed self-driving capabilities. Such a system is “both pro-business and pro-people,” Altman said, and would therefore bring together “a remarkably broad constituency.”
“The changes coming are unstoppable,” Altman said. “If we embrace them and plan for them, we can use them to create a much fairer, happier, and more prosperous society. The future can be almost unimaginably great.”
The longer the title, the less important the job.