Key TakeawaysOne AI expert forecasts that artificial intelligence could eventually make everyone in the US richer by more than $13,000 a year. But some observers say that while AI will produce wealth, it may not be evenly distributed. One downside of using AI is that we could become so reliant on technology that we stop using judgment and creativity, an observer says. Paper Boat Creative / Getty Images
Artificial intelligence could make everyone wealthier by making work more efficient, some experts say.
Every adult in the United States could be paid $13,500 per year from profits generated by AI in a decade, Sam Altman, head of artificial intelligence-focused nonprofit OpenAI, wrote recently in a blog post. But some observers say that while AI will produce wealth, it may not be evenly distributed.
"It is abundantly clear that AI innovations are in the realm of the rich corporations: the Googles, Amazons, and Facebooks of the world," artificial intelligence expert Timothy C. Havens, a professor at Michigan Technological University, said in an email interview.
"AI algorithms require vast amounts of energy and computing infrastructure to perform their tasks; hence, there are certain corporations that have a stranglehold on the AI industry. This can exacerbate income inequality."
A Revolution in the Making?
In his blog post, Altman forecasts an AI revolution. "The technological progress we make in the next 100 years will be far larger than all we've made since we first controlled fire and invented the wheel," he wrote. "If public policy doesn't adapt accordingly, most people will end up worse off than they are today."
Labor economist Christos A. Makridis said in an email interview that AI can help people make tweaks in their learning, allowing them to acquire new skills, and, therefore, make more money.
“AI is never going to become a panacea, nor should we want it to be if we want to maintain our own agency.”
Using artificial intelligence could help people reexamine their purchasing patterns to cut waste, Makridis said. "Basically, it's an optimization tool," he added.
AI will create wealth by doing things better than humans can, Makridis said. "For example, AI algorithms can analyze more images in minutes than a human could in their lifetime, enabling you to, in an instant, find pictures of cute kittens and puppies," he added.
"In short, AI enables the collective human population to produce more value, making many types of work faster, safer, and more precise.”
Getting Rich Without Losing Control
One downside of using AI is that we could become so reliant on technology that we stop using judgment and creativity, Makridis said.
"AI is never going to become a panacea, nor should we want it to be if we want to maintain our own agency," Havens said.
"Moreover, the quality of the AI predictions always depends on the data we feed into it, so we need to be very cautious about how we are building these algorithms so that we do not call something success that isn't truly success—otherwise, we replicate the very problem we are trying to avoid."
AI might be most helpful in wealth creation when it comes to financial markets. According to a study from Oracle, two in three people (67%) say they trust robots more than humans with their money. And eight in 10 consumers think automated tools will replace personal financial advisors in the coming years.KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images
Sukhi Jutla, the co-founder of MarketOrders, said in an email interview that financial markets are difficult to understand for the average person. There are so many different financial products that the average person can't compete with those wealthy enough to afford advisors.
"Imagine having an AI assistant who can scan all the money you have in your bank account and then recommend the best products for you to buy/invest in," Jutla said. "This AI can be programmed to continually look for better deals and monitor the wealth of the person."
Many hedge funds already use AI and algorithms to increase wealth in the investment world, automatically executing trades when conditions are ripe, and terminating losing trades when markets are heading downwards, Jutla said.
"If the average person had access to an AI wealth app/software, this would radically shift the power back to the average person and also help them to understand their own finances better and be an active part in their wealth creation," he added.
One downside to AI controlling the economy is the possibility that the machines could make a mistake and cause chaos, Jutla said, adding that "the AI could go 'rogue' due to bad programming."