Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Stupidity
There is no shortage of hope – and hype – about what artificial intelligence could do for productivity and economic growth in the future. But we must bear in mind that our politics have proven too dysfunctional, and our policies too misguided, to manage even the most obvious threats to our future.
NEW YORK – Since returning from this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, I have been asked repeatedly for my biggest takeaways. Among the most widely discussed issues this year was artificial intelligence – especially generative AI (“GenAI”). With the recent adoption of large language models (like the one powering ChatGPT), there is much hope – and hype – about what AI could do for productivity and economic growth in the future.
To address this question, we must bear in mind that our world is dominated far more by human stupidity than by AI. The proliferation of megathreats – each an element in the broader “polycrisis” – confirms that our politics are too dysfunctional, and our policies too misguided, to address even the most serious and obvious risks to our future. These include climate change, which will have huge economic costs; failed states, which will make waves of climate refugees even larger; and recurrent, virulent pandemics that could be even more economically damaging than COVID-19.
Making matters worse, dangerous geopolitical rivalries are evolving into new cold wars – such as between the United States and China – and into potentially explosive hot wars, like those in Ukraine and the Middle East. Around the world, rising income and wealth inequality, partly driven by hyper-globalization and labor-saving technologies, have triggered a backlash against liberal democracy, creating opportunities for populist, autocratic, and violent political movements.