“Meanwhile, a relatively small set of people will be able to figure out the artificial-intelligence economy and be able to position themselves to reap its rewards.”

September 7th, 2011

Arnold Kling  speaks wisdom:

In an industrial economy, if I do not work on building a car, then at the margin someone loses out on a car. In an Internet economy, if I do not write a blog post, no one loses out on anything. Not because I am such a lousy blogger, but because if I fail to write the blog post, then someone else will, and that blog post can be copied an infinite number of times. The blog post does not really need me to produce it in the way that the car does in an industrial economy. However, in an artificial-intelligence economy, the car becomes as easy as a blog post to produce and re-produce.

With technology we all benefit.

And relatedly, on the origin of the term Luddite:

The Luddites were violent radicals. Only instead of attacking people, as is the case with most violent radicals, their enemy was the machine. The Luddites, named after the mythical English folk hero Ned “King” Ludd, were terrified of what Industrial Revolution tech meant for their lives. For many of them, it meant the destruction of their lives—the loss of their vocations. Sound familiar?

Like those autoworkers who saw robotic arms replacing their craft, countless English men and women who worked in the cotton trade—refining it for sale—saw mill technology usurping their labor. The jobs they did, machines could do faster and cheaper. And that’s exactly what the machines did. So the laborers decided to destroy these machines.

Using hammers and arson, Luddite armies of furious laborers destroyed the machines that encroached on their vocation—causing a staggering £100,000 worth of damage between 1811 and 1812. They left factories in ruin, and earned a reputation as heroes of the working class—an “unprecedented” “character of daring and ferocity,” wrote the Annual Register in 1812.

The British Empire, which saw a rise in wealth unprecedented in the whole of human history through the use of industrial machinery, naturally, wasn’t going to take this. They dispatched the military against Luddite groups, quashing, arresting, imprisoning, and executing them. Laws were passed to make the destruction of equipment a grave crime. Force was used until workers were too scared to resist the progress of history and technology.

I choose progress.