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Navigating the Ethical Imperatives of AI

June 24, 2024

AI is developing at an unprecedented pace. Every week, if not every day, a new tool or enhancement to existing ones is announced. While we cannot halt or stop the progress of AI, the moral imperatives associated with its advancement cannot be ignored and must be carefully studied.

Wealth Disparity and Social Impact

By some measures, it appears that with every major technological advancement, wealth disparity has increased. This, in our view, should be the foremost impact of AI that needs to be examined. As income and wealth disparity grow, the likelihood of social breakdown, mental health issues, violence, and other social ills increases.

With each shift, macroeconomists typically point to an increase in higher-paid jobs requiring higher qualifications, while current jobs become automated. However, AI impacts almost all white-collar, higher-paid jobs. This raises critical questions: Where does society stand when parents cannot afford to pay for better education, or individuals hesitate to take out loans due to job uncertainty? What happens when advanced education becomes obsolete by the time degrees are completed?

Interim Solution Proposal

While leaders and think tanks work out long-term solutions, we propose an interim solution worth exploring. The problem we aim to address is providing relief to those displaced by technology adoption or those who cannot secure jobs because their education and skills cannot be quickly repurposed.

Classifying AI as Workers

We suggest classifying every machine or software bot (including AI) as a ‘worker’ since it performs tasks previously done by humans. Companies should pay federal and state taxes for every machine and bot deployed, based on the number of human workers they replace. A standard conversion, based on the 'unit of work' definition (e.g., 1 robotic arm equals 3 human workers on a factory floor; 1 software bot equals 5 human workers in customer support), can be established. Models like Balayala can compute the unit of work and worker. Statutes and limitations could be set, e.g., a conveyor belt may be excluded, but a robotic arm is included; an ERP platform may be excluded, but a customer support bot on the platform is included.

Basic Income Fund

To offset this tax, companies should be allowed to create a ‘Basic Income Fund’ used to provide a predetermined universal basic income and health coverage for displaced workers or those not hired due to automation. This fund can help displaced workers reskill for new technologies or ways of working. To prevent misuse, limits can be set on how long universal basic income is available to displaced workers (e.g., 18-24 months or the duration equivalent to asset depreciation).

Further Exploration and Conclusion

This idea requires further exploration, particularly around governance and implementation details. The intent is to minimize the disruption caused by the rapid progress and adoption of new technology. Pausing or stopping technological advancement is not only impossible but also impractical.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of AI, it is crucial to acknowledge and navigate the moral and ethical considerations that arise. By initiating discussions, staying informed about the latest research, and actively participating in shaping the ethical frameworks surrounding AI, we can ensure that this transformative technology is harnessed for the betterment of humanity.

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