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Big Idea Brief No. 2 – The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence
The second Waterloo Symposium on Technology and Society (WSTS), featuring Avi Goldfarb of the Rotman School at the University of Toronto, recast the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) as a drop in the cost of prediction. Like other new technologies, the emergence of AI as an important force in economic and social development has been accompanied by hype, fear, and broad acceptance. The fear is economic — where negative impacts on jobs and economic systems will displace humans — and social — where access to the benefits of AI and the control and value of data are real concerns. Despite the fears, and regardless of the hype surrounding the possibilities of AI, this technology is becoming ubiquitous, deeply important to the functioning of society, and increasingly inexpensive. However, the policy implications for the development and application of AI technologies are broad, and complicated by overlapping and competing national and international jurisdictions, regulations, and interests. This paper will explore the most salient concerns arising from the development and application of AI, the economic forces driving its development, and the potential negative consequences of these technologies.