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Artificial Intelligence and Human Flourishing

Charles M. A. Clark and Aleksandr Gevorkyan

American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 2020, vol. 79, issue 4, 1307-1344

Abstract: The polarization of the debate about artificial intelligence (AI) pulls in two mutually exclusive directions of either complete takeover of future jobs by omnipotent algorithms or an absolute bliss with robots at work while humans reap the benefits of endless vacation. Add this to conflicting views of work as either a disutility to be minimized or as an essential component in human flourishing, and it is no wonder a wide range of views are expressed on AI and human flourishing. The literature, from Smith to Keynes and beyond, offers some initial methodological guidance. Still, the true social and economic implications of an AI‐type environment in production and labor markets are yet to be fully understood. This article argues that neither of the predictions are realistic. Instead, the global economy may be passing, albeit at a faster speed, through a phase of technological change, similar to those experienced before. While a nuanced balance is emerging, with an emphasis on human skills in future employment, the benefits may not be equitably distributed, as equality of opportunities for human development may not be reachable, though visible, in the AI‐driven society. Hence, as firms seek efficiency gains, much weight is shifted onto governments and quasi‐private entities in maintaining decent living standards conducive to human flourishing in unprecedented times of the COVID‐19 pandemic. The article reviews various popular concerns and advances new public policy measures aimed at tackling some of the immediate fears of automation.

Date: 2020
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