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Reviews |  Sam Altman on the AI ​​Revolution, Trillionaires, and the Future of Political Power


“The technological advancements we make over the next 100 years will be far greater than anything we’ve done since we controlled fire and invented the wheel,” Sam Altman writes in his essay “Moore’s Law for Everything “. “This revolution will generate enough wealth for everyone to have what they need, if we as a society manage it responsibly. “

Altman is the CEO of OpenAI, one of the biggest and most important players in the field of artificial intelligence. His argument is this: Since the 1970s, computers have improved exponentially even as they have become cheaper, a phenomenon known as Moore’s Law. Altman thinks AI could bring us closer to Moore’s Law for everything: It could improve everything while making it cheaper. Housing, health care, education, etc.

[You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

But what struck me about his essay was this last clause: “if we, as a society, manage it responsibly”. Because, as Altman also admits, if he’s right, AI will generate phenomenal wealth largely by destroying countless jobs – that’s a big part of how everything gets cheaper – and by moving huge amounts of wealth from labor to capital. And whether that world becomes a post-scarcity utopia or a feudal dystopia depends on how wealth, power, and dignity are then distributed – it depends, in other words, on politics.

So this is a conversation about the political economy of the next technological age. Some are speculative, of course, but others are not. This shift in power and wealth is already underway. Altman offers an answer: an evolution towards the taxation of land and wealth, and its distribution to all. We’re talking about this idea, but also the political economy behind it: are the people who gain all this power and wealth really going to afford more taxes? Or will they fight it tooth and nail?

We also discuss who is funding the AI ​​revolution, the business models these systems will use (and the dangers of these business models), how AI would shift the geopolitical balance of power, if we should allow trillionaires, why the AI ​​policy debate is stuck, why pro-tech progressivism should also engage in radical equality politics, what global AI governance might look like, if I’m just energy flowing through a network of neurons ”, and much more.

You can listen to our entire conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you get your podcasts.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available at noon on the Times website.)

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin, Jeff Geld and Rogé Karma; fact check by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin.



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