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Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Problems

It is unhelpful to stoke fears about "the rise of the robots" or the possibility that artificial intelligence will take American jobs. If public policy ensures a fair balance of relative incomes across society, technological progress in a market economy need not impoverish unskilled workers.

BERKELEY – Former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers recently took exception to current US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s views on “artificial intelligence” (AI) and related topics. The difference between the two seems to be, more than anything else, a matter of priorities and emphasis.

Mnuchin takes a narrow approach. He thinks that the problem of particular technologies called “artificial intelligence taking over American jobs” lies “far in the future.” And he seems to question the high stock-market valuations for “unicorns” – companies valued at or above $1 billion that have no record of producing revenues that would justify their supposed worth and no clear plan to do so.

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