Sam Ghandchiسام قندچي Are Hawking and Musk Right about AI's Danger
Sam Ghandchi
آیا دیدگاه هاوکینگ و ماسک درباره خطر
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Stephen Hawking, the famous physicist, has been alarming us about the danger of AI for some time saying that AI will be the end of humanity, and before that, the end of middle class. Recently Elon Musk, the famous entrepreneur and technologist, has joined the chorus and says the AI's danger is more of a risk than a threat like North Korea, and claims the risk to be in the lack of proper regulations in development of AI. Elon Musk's words echo those anti-GMO opponents of genetic modifications in agriculture, and the objectors of gene therapy in biomedical field, although in reality, AI hardly has any unplanned or uncontrollable side effects, except perhaps in science fiction movies. So what really remains of all these dangers is nothing but the prophecy of the end of Middle Class especially as we are witnessing such a trend in 21st Century in developed countries like the United States and Western Europe. A similar prediction was once made at the end of 19th Century by none other than Karl Marx, when he saw such a trend in the economic data he was analyzing to write the three volumes of Capital-- the third volume was published posthumously by Friedrich Engels. But when in 20th Century the prediction of disappearance of middle class did not materialize, Karl Popper correctly announced that Marxism has fallen from the status of science to that of a pseudoscience, because its main pillar had become a matter of faith and not scientific fact. What we are now witnessing as disappearance of middle class in 21st Century is an economic trend in older industrial countries of U.S. and Europe, related to the reality of industrial and even postindustrial production being transferred to new industrial nations of China and India because of cheap labor-- skilled even in hardware and software development of post-industrial production, a new economic phenomena at the end of 20th Century which is continuing into the 21st Century, and has hardly anything to do with AI, and incidentally in China and India we are seeing the growth of middle class. We know, at the end of 19th Century, heavy industries were not allowed to leave the metropolitan countries and this reality kept the high paying jobs of industrial workers in the U.S. and Europe secure till 1970's, despite the export of capital. Today the American companies moving their operations to China and India are gaining huge returns for their owners at the expense of high paying jobs being lost stateside, which definitely kills the growth of Middle Class in areas like the Midwest in the United States and similar regions in Europe. The growth of service jobs stateside, is not compensating for the loss, and only the economic sectors such as construction and healthcare are immune because cannot be physically moved. The growth of AI hardly has caused any of these developments and what we hear about AI's impact, is more hype than reality. If companies like Foxconn in China add order of magnitude to their AI-enabled factories, then we can evaluate the impact of AI in China as a measuring rod.  As far as AI is concerned, we need to make plans based on the contributions of forefront thinkers like Ray Kurzweil who really understand it, as discussed in the book "New Variant to Meet Human Needs" (1). The alarms we hear today, are more because of misunderstanding the changes caused by current trends in global economy than because of real threats caused by Artificial Intelligence.

Hoping for a democratic and secular
futurist republic in Iran,

Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
August 20, 2017


1. New Variant to Meet Human Needs-An Electronic Book
واریانت جدید برای تأمین نیازهای بشر- کتاب الکترونیک




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