Why AI Will Save the World (by Mark Andreessen) - Deepstash

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AI: What it is & What it isn't

AI: What it is & What it isn't

AI is: The application of math & software code to teach computers how to generate knowledge in ways similar to how people do it. Like any program it runs, takes input, processes, and generates output (useful across a wide range of fields, ranging from coding to medicine to law to the creative arts)

AI isn’t: Killer software and robots that will spring to life and decide to murder the human race or otherwise ruin everything, like you see in movies like Terminator.

Like any technology AI is a way to make everything we care about better.


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More Intelligence is Good for Us

More Intelligence is Good for Us

Our (human) intelligence is what allowed our species to develop the world we live in today: science, technology, math, physics, chemistry, medicine etc. Without the application of intelligence we would all still be living in the forest, gathering or hunting for food.

What AI offers us is the opportunity to profoundly augment human intelligence to make all of these outcomes of intelligence much, much better:

  • Better tutoring for kids
  • Assistants for every scientist
  • Better decision-making for every leader
  • Productivity growth
  • An explosion of creative industries
  • Reduce casualties in wars
  • etc...


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The Moral Panic against Tech

Every new technology that matters, from electric lighting to automobiles to radio to the Internet, has sparked a moral panic.

That's not to say new technologies haven't led to bad outcomes. Most new tech is also being used for bad.

But a moral panic is by its very nature irrational – it takes what may be a legitimate concern and inflates it into a level of hysteria that ironically makes it harder to confront actually serious concerns.


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The Baptists And Bootleggers

The Baptists And Bootleggers

Economists have observed 2 classes of people perpetuating the moral panic (with examples from the prohibition of 1920s):

  • Baptists - the true believer social reformers who legitimately feel that new restrictions & regulations are required to prevent societal disaster. For alcohol prohibition, these were often literally devout Christians who felt alcohol was destroying society.
  • Bootleggers - the opportunists who stand to profit by the imposition of new restrictions that insulate them from competition. In 1920, they were the ones selling illicit alcohol when legitimate sales were banned.


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The Baptists And Bootleggers Of AI

When it comes to AI we can notice the same 2 categories of people spreading panic:

  • Baptists - true believers that AI presents one or another existential risks.
  • Bootleggers - CEOs who stand to make more money if regulations helps form a cartel of government-blessed AI vendors protected from competition.


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Baptists are sucked in, Bootleggers win

Baptists are sucked in, Bootleggers win

History shows that the Baptists are naive ideologues, the Bootleggers are cynical operators, and so the result of reform movements like these is often that the Bootleggers get what they want – regulatory capture, insulation from competition, the formation of a cartel – and the Baptists are left wondering where their drive for social improvement went so wrong.

Example – banking reform after the 2008 global financial crisis. The Baptists told us that we needed new laws to break up the “too big to fail” banks. The Dodd-Frank Act was co-opted by big banks who are now even bigger.


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AI Risk #1: Will AI Kill Us All?

AI Risk #1: Will AI Kill Us All?

The idea that AI will decide to literally kill humanity is a profound category error. AI is not a living being that has been primed by billions of years of evolution to participate in the battle for the survival of the fittest It is math – code – computers, built by people, owned by people, used by people, controlled by people. The idea that it will at some point develop a mind of its own and decide that it has motivations that lead it to try to kill us is a superstitious handwave.

AI doesn’t want, it doesn’t have goals, it doesn’t want to kill you, because it’s not alive.


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AI Risk #2: Will AI Ruin Our Society?

AI Risk #2: Will AI Ruin Our Society?

If the murder robots don’t get us, the hate speech and misinformation will. That's why doomers talk about alignment ... to human values. This is tricky. 

As we have seen from the social media wars that led to mass censorship under the guise of fighting "hate speech", the slippery slope is not a fallacy, it’s an inevitability.

This is an issue as these doomers are usually the elite so they have massive reach. But they are nothing but bootleggers. We should not let the thought police suppress AI.


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AI Risk #3: Will AI Take All Our Jobs?

AI Risk #3: Will AI Take All Our Jobs?

The fear of job loss due variously to mechanization, automation is as old as time. And always the claim is that “this time is different”.

However, time & time again, technology lead to an economic boom. This time will not be different. When technology is applied to production, we get productivity growth:

  1. more output generated with less input
  2. this results in lower prices for goods and services.
  3. prices fell, we pay less for the same products
  4. lower prices means we  have extra spending power 
  5. we use the money to to buy other things
  6. this increases demand for new products & services


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AI Risk #4: Will AI Lead To Crippling Inequality?

AI Risk #4: Will AI Lead To Crippling Inequality?

What if the owners of AI reap all the economic rewards & regular people get nothing?

This is an old Marxist argument: the owners of the means of production would inevitably steal all societal wealth from the people who do the actual work.

The flaw in this theory is that, as the owner of a piece of technology, it’s not in your own interest to keep it to yourself. The opposite is true: it’s in your own interest to sell it to as many customers as possible. Because you get more money by selling to more people on lower prices. Tesla started as car for rich people, now it's the best selling car in US.


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AI Risk #5: Will AI Lead To Bad People Doing Bad Things?

AI Risk #5: Will AI Lead To Bad People Doing Bad Things?

Dooh! Technology is a tool. Tools, starting with fire and rocks, can be used to do good things – cook food and build houses – and bad things – burn people and bludgeon people.

We can not contain potential bad outcomes through banning. 2 better ways:

  • Go after bad actors doing bad things, not after the tech. Punish the people building bio-weapons, don't ban bio research.
  • Build systems to protect against bad use-case. Like tech to detect fake videos in the case of AI. Or cryptographic signatures to prove authenticity. 


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The Real AI Risk

The Real AI Risk

AI isn’t just being developed in the relatively free societies of the West, it is also being developed by the Communist Party of the People’s Republic of China. And China sees AI as a tool for population control and economic conquest.

Banning AI means China wins the next economic race. Mark Andreessen believes it's imperative for the leaders of US to embrace AI if America is to remain relevant in the upcoming years. 


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Mark Andreessen's Plan for AI Adoption

Mark Andreessen's Plan for AI Adoption

  • Big AI companies should be allowed to build AI as fast and aggressively as they can – but not allowed to achieve regulatory capture.
  • Same with Startup AI companies. No regulations nor government assistance.
  • Open source AI should be allowed to freely proliferate without any gov intervention.
  • Gov should work with the private sector to develop systems against bad uses of AI.
  • To prevent the risk of China achieving global AI dominance, we should use the full power of our private sector, our scientific establishment, and our governments in concert to drive Western AI to absolute global dominance.


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Life-long learner. Passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship, philosophy, Buddhism & SF. Founder @deepstash.


Mark Andreessen packs so much in this rebuttal of AI doomerism. A pleasure to read.


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