Artificial Intelligence and Globalization

Today’s conventional wisdom is that the rise of India and China will be the single biggest factor driving global jobs and wages over the twenty-first century. High-wage workers in rich countries can expect to see their competitive advantage steadily eroded by competition from capable and fiercely hard-working competitors in Asia, Latin America, and maybe even some day Africa.

This is a good story, full of human drama and power politics. But I wonder whether, even within the next few decades, another factor will influence our work lives even more: the exponential rise of applications of artificial intelligence.

My portal to the world of artificial intelligence is a narrow one: the more than 500-year-old game of chess. You may not care a whit about chess, long regarded as the ultimate intellectual sport. But the stunning developments coming out of the chess world during the past decade should still command your attention.

Chess has long been the centerpiece of research in artificial intelligence. While in principle, chess is solvable, the game’s computational complexity is almost incomprehensible. It is only a slight exaggeration to say there are more possible moves in a chess game than atoms in a universe.