The Singularity: What's in it for Me?
By Arnold Kling
Tyler Cowen tries to answer. I’ll add my comments.He writes,
we’ll be much better at measuring which research Ph.d’s are contributing value and which ones are not, or at least we’ll think we are. Since academic achievements follow a Power Law, that will mean a huge ouch for many would-be academicians. The new professor will need to be skilled in assembling collages of information, raising money, and communicating to broader public audiences. Either that or his research should be very obviously of the top order. The distribution of income across professors will become radically less equal as indeed the trend has been for well over a decade now.
I guess it depends on who pays for the research. I think we already know that the value of research in some fields is close to zero, but the taxpayers and patrons funding the research do not seem to mind.
I think that if value added in research and/or teaching become more measurable, the entire credentialist model could unravel. That would be huge. It would wipe out 90 percent of the present education industry, if not more.
Tyler then looks into what might be safe investments for $10 million in a Black Swan world.
If you have $10 million, the safest thing to do is to diversify across currencies, buy government securities of various kinds, hold $1.5 million in gold, and otherwise not invest at all. Oh yes, invest in some cheap hobbies. In a real crunch remote land is worthless — transport costs…
Keep in mind that one of the Black Swans would be contagious sovereign debt defaults in the U.S., Europe, and other mature developed countries. Maybe gold takes care of you in that scenario, but I would not be so swift to rule out land in potential safe havens. Of course, if the U.S. is very weak, it is not clear what is a safe haven–Singapore can be threatened by China, for example.
The point about cheap hobbies may seem odd, but not from a Masonomics perspective. Another way to put it is that the cost of living will be really low, except for status competition. Think about what your friends spend money on, and how much of it is related to maintaining status.
My cohort of friends bought houses in expensive neighborhoods and/or sent their children to private schools. They spent a lot on college tuitions. They pay a lot for bar mitzvahs and weddings. All of that can be chalked up as competing for status in terms of their children.
There are interesting status competitions that are much less expensive. If you cultivate interest in those, you can live on very little money.
One question is health care. If you could get the right kind combination of insurance policies (long-term care? Super-catastrophic? insurance against bad outcomes from genetic testing?), that would be a valuable asset.
I believe that machines will never outcompete humans across the board
I agree that Singularians are far too optimistic about artificial intelligence. It is a variation of the “fatal conceit” problem. Most of human intelligence is tacit knowledge, consisting of elaborate metaphors that are originally acquired from sensory experience. Artificial intelligence is an attempt to arrive at the same point through top-down design. I’m being glib here. Sorry.
I think that the progress of computers and robots will be economically significant but not paradigm-shifting. The big paradigm shift will come from bioengineering. That will challenge our view of what it is to be human, what it means to have an ecological system, etc.