The Economics of AI: Example

I recently had a great time at the 68th British National Science Fiction Annual Convention: meeting old friends; making new ones; attending some fascinating panels…

The panels prompted my restless mind to explore tangential threads, as they should. Example…

During the Artifical Intelligence (AI) panel, someone mentioned that when driverless trucks take over, some 3.5 million USA truckers will lose their jobs. Another 5 million support staff, such as truck stop workers, will be redundant, too. Most of them won’t have high-value transferable skills in such a new environment, so that’s nearly 8.5 million people on the dole within the few years it takes for trucking companies to convert to driverless.

8.5 million ex-workers. And that’s from the introduction of just ONE AI “device”.

  • Who’s going to pay the ex-truckers’ welfare benefits, health care, pensions…?
  • Will resurgent Unions fire up a protest movement and blackmail the trucking industry?
  • Will there be riots?
  • Will governments ban such AIs to protect human jobs?
  • Will candidates for elected office seek to ban such AIs to protect human jobs, especially in election years? (AIs don’t vote. Yet. But that’s another topic.)

Although these were remarkable data and I sympathize with the threatened workers, their families and whoever will be taxed more heavily to fund the bloating welfare system, thoughts of two financial aspects popped into my mind unbidden:-

  1. At the end of their working lives, AIs can be sold off for scrap or salvage: no one pays a company when it sheds human workers.
  2. AIs don’t get pensions or geriatric health care, so there are no ongoing payments by the state when their “working lives” end.

There MUST be a story there.

  • How would those financials work out in the longer term?
  • How will the displaced people spend their time?

Among the solutions offered by the panel was the suggestion that the redundant humans could turn their hands to the production of high-ticket “artisanal” objects. Hmm… 8.5 million instant craftspersons whose latent skills suddenly emerge overnight without years of training and practice? (Just like Rey using the Force and lightsabers, and piloting starships without any training…)

Hmm… The Force must be strong in the trucking industry.

Or… Maybe they could get domestic AIs to turn their produce into higher-quality and hence higher-ticket items? Who would pay for the domestic AIs? And that defeats the point of having human-crafted objects, doesn’t it? Or does it, if humans created the AI’s? But it would not be the ex-truckers who programmed the craft-skilled AI’s…

As the saying goes, “It’s complicated.”

My, The Force Was Strong

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What a wonderful month May was.

Family

The first big event was my eldest daughter’s engagement party in sunny Romania. It was wonderful to see her take the next step in life, Continue reading

So Where Have I Been?

Debt Collector in Storm in the Stars

Andy as Debt Collector in A Storm in the Stars

I took a long break between posts this year. I’m sure you noticed.

So where have I been? Continue reading

Mancunicon (Eastercon 2016)

mancunicon

I’m still recovering from a splendid few days at the annual British Science Fiction Convention, held at Easter and generically named Eastercons. 2016 was the turn of Manchester, England to host 1200 sci-fi and fantasy fans, and a fine job the organising team did. Continue reading

Dysprosium : SciFi Convention

dysprosiumDysprosium was the 66th annual UK SciFi Convention, held at Easter 2015.

(Yes, I’m still playing “catch-up”.)

Overview

Weird and wacky, thoughtful and intelligent, and a Real Ale bar permanently packed-out with hobbits. Well, not real hobbits, but hairy folk wearing homespun and sandals. (For my non-UK readers, Real Ales are traditional beers produced by smaller breweries with love and care and no artificial additives.) The Bar seems to be a popular recurring feature of these conventions.

Differences

This was my first “big” scifi convention. I’d attended Luxcon a week earlier (see post): the difference was remarkable. Most Luxembourg attendees lived locally and needed no hotel accommodation. UK attendees were from a wider catchment area so most needed hotel rooms. As a result, the age profiles were radically different. LuxCon folk were predominantly young adults, with a greater cosplay tendency: the UK folk were generally older, more likely to have spreading waistlines, receding hairlines and greater disposable income (to afford the travel and hotels).

I’d say there was more pop-scifi in Luxembourg, and more fantasy in the UK.

Workshops and Beyond

I submitted different pieces of writing to three writing workshops. Due to the number of attendees, time constraints prevented full analysis of the submissions, but each presenter team provided follow-up:-

  • Elsewhen Press – critique session
    • submitted : a short story, “Homo sapiens inferior
    • follow-up : Elsewhen invited attendees to submit a story after the convention for a full critique
  • Terry Edge and Kim Horwood – improving writing and achieving goals
    • submitted : the first chapter of my far future novel-in-progress, “Succession!
    • follow-up : Terry and Kim sat with me between other sessions for valuable informal chats
  • Donna Scott (editor and chair of the British Science Fiction Association) – critique session
    • submitted : the first page of my noir novel-in-progress, “Private Vices
    • follow-up : Donna edited the entire submission after the convention and sent me her comments

Thank you to them all.

Conclusions

Between the Real Ale and the wonderful attendees I met, the excellent session presenters and the great folk running the workshops, I had a great time and learned so much. Already looking forward to next Easter’s Convention, “Mancunicon” (in Manchester, UK).

Afternote : Only a few people ignored the “No Bare Feet” notices. I do hope they enjoyed their pedal fungal infection transfers.