General AI or Full Employment?

Even if we were to produce a general AI tomorrow, we would still have 200-300 years of full employment for every human who wanted a job ahead of us. I’m talking about climate change, of course.

Look: when the pandemic crisis is over, 30% of the world will either be unemployed or working for governments.

This isn’t after an Artificial General Intelligence Singularity in the distant future.

It’s next year.

Governments will get to choose between unemployment or government job creation. Governments that choose unemployment – that leave 30% of their population out of work – will collapse. Possibly their nations will collapse with them. Nations with 30% unemployment don’t function. More importantly, nations with 30% unemployment can’t do the capacity-creation work that will make them resilient to the next crisis, leading to a civilization-threatening death spiral of collapse-disaster-collapse-disaster.

One side effect of this is that it thoroughly forecloses on the dream of a General AI. Societies whose primary industry is digging through rubble for canned goods while drinking your own urine to survive do not make fundamental AI breakthroughs.

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