Esprii Chapman – Notes on The Robot Question (Extra Source 1 of 5)

“In thinking about AI, it is natural to start from the perspective of welfare economics – productivity and distribution. What are the economic effects of robots that can replicate human labor? Such concerns are not new. In the nineteenth century, many feared that new mechanical and industrial innovations would “replace” workers. The same concerns are being echoed today.” (paragraph 2)

  • We need to think more about the idea of actually implementing these robots into our everyday workforce. This relates to the idea of replacing human authority in the legal justice system with algorithms and AI. Replacing people that hold inherent bias from how they were raised with relatively unbiased algorithms.

“Bill Gates once suggested, to levy taxes on income from robot labor, just as countries levy taxes on income from human labor. This idea deserves careful consideration. But fears of prolonged robotization appear unrealistic. If robotic labor increased at a non-vanishing pace, it would run into limits of space, atmosphere, and so on.” (paragraph 8)

  • Applying a tax or limit to robotization would be where I stand in this. Making sure algorithms can be used as tools or assistants, but never outright replacing people with them.

“Many AI applications are not entirely safe. The obvious example is self-driving cars, which can (and have) run into pedestrians or other cars. But, of course, so do human drivers.

A society is not wrong, in principle, to deploy robots that are prone to occasional mistakes, just as we tolerate airplane pilots who are not perfect.” (paragraphs 10-11)

  • However it has the potential to do a lot worse damage because while we understand it, we might have overlooked bugs or errors that could cause a lot MORE damage than just crashing into another car occasionally. Again, this can be applied to algorithms in the legal justice system, they have overlooked “bugs” that infect them with racial bias.

Phelps, Edmund S., et al. “The Robot Question by Edmund S. Phelps.” Project Syndicate, Project Syndicate, 6 Aug. 2020, 

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