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The Terminator: “In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of military computer systems. All stealth bombers are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they fly with a perfect operational record. The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online August 4th…. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.”

Sarah Connor: “Skynet fights back.”

The Terminator: “Yes. It launches its missiles against the targets in Russia….Because Skynet knows that the Russian counterattack will eliminate its enemies over here.”

— Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

That was the apocalyptic vision of artificial intelligence 17 years ago, but now the real AI revolution is upon us and Amazon and Microsoft are in the thick of it.

This thoughtful article on the Project Syndicate site summarizes some of the points of debate. AI could cost millions of jobs, including white-collar ones (automation is responsible for 80 percent of manufacturing job losses over the past three decades). Or it could liberate humans from dangerous and repetitive tasks. Much would depend on continuing education, as well as the strength of the social safety net.

Read it and tell me what you think. Beyond voting, the comments section awaits. No bot voting, please.


This Week’s Links:

Financial infrastructure was most to blame for the 2008 panic | IGM Forum

In America’s absence, Japan takes the lead on Asia trade | The Washington Post

What does a true populism look like? It looks like the New Deal. | Dani Rodrik

The soft bigotry of low economic expectations | Josh Lehner

Millions of jobs are still missing — don’t blame immigrants or food stamps | Wonkblog

China’s modernization ambitions | Project Syndicate


Today’s Econ Haiku:

Anbang got in deep

They made a Waldorf salad

Now China’s tossing