Edit Answer Tags: Chlorokin's Answer to Will superintelligence make a large part of humanity unemployable?

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Answer text

So, let’s first ignore superintelligence and consider the case of AIs that are merely perfect replacements for all human labour.

Many economists dismiss the claim that automation can cause general unemployment, and will often mention the “Lump of labour” fallacy, which is the idea that there is a finite amount of jobs in the world, which automation will slowly winnow away. They note that though automation has caused unemployment in particular sectors, increased efficiency has freed up resources which can be used to employ more humans in those areas where machines cannot yet replace their labour. And historically, this has more than made up for the jobs that were eliminated.

However, AI is different than other sorts of automation in that it is of general applicability. If we consider these AIs perfect replacements for human labour then standard labour models predict human wages will decline until they are competitive with the cost of running an AI. If this cost is below subsistence, then this would cause unemployment. However, in scenarios where some humans still have capital, they may prefer human workers for signalling or other reasons even if AIs are better and cheaper.

Now that we’ve talked about perfect replacements for human labour, we can talk about superintelligence. A superintelligence would quickly acquire material power, and we think superior material power to that held by any human or collection of humans. At that point, thinking in terms of employment is likely beside the point. The post-superintelligence world will reflect the preferences of the AI/AIs. If it prefers humans exist, we will. If it prefers we have jobs, we will.