Blog: The AI threat to global world order
Challenges posed by emerging technologies are enormous and expected to yield tremendous negative repercussions.
Humanity’s progress is relentless. It has been our society’s primary goal since the dawn of civilization to advance. And for a long time, the advent of new technologies has generally facilitated improvements in life quality. The inventions like the steam engine, the light bulb and many other have fundamentally changed our lives.
Likewise, emerging technologies of the 21st century are expected to drastically transform contemporary society. Quantum technologies, artificial intelligence, robotics, and many other advanced technologies are poised to overturn conventional perceptions of work, transportation, healthcare and daily life in general.
Each of these technologies yields both tremendous benefits and substantial challenges, for they seek to radically change the way we interact with other people, with our governments and the world in general. Realizing devastating consequences that novel tech can bring about, it is in our interest to minimize negative repercussions and maximize its benefits in a way that would help us to address mounting challenges.
The most important of new technologies is artificial intelligence (AI), whose use we already witness in our daily lives and the use of which will undoubtedly have monumental implications for our world order.
It is apparent that thanks to advanced algorithms, we will be able to achieve previously unattainable levels of productivity, but this will eliminate an enormous amount of jobs. And these layoffs will affect everyone regardless of the color of one’s collar.
To cite an example, financial analysts and accountants just cannot compete with machines that can spot patterns in data and draw relevant algorithms on levels that the human brain cannot even imagine. According to McKinsey Global Institute’s report, up to 800 million workers will lose their jobs to AI. In the US alone, 39 to 73 million jobs may be eliminated by 2030, though about 20 million of those displaced workers may be able to easily transfer to other industries.
And to make matters worse, tremendous profits will be in the hands of several corporations. Kai-Fu Lee, an expert on AI, thinks that there are seven leading AI companies: Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu. Many people add to this list IBM and Apple.
Their edge over competitors is further enhanced by the fact that AI-driven industries naturally tend towards monopolies. This is because AI “juggernauts” already possess huge amounts of data generated from hundreds of millions of users, with which they can create advanced algorithms (more data — better algorithms — better capabilities), making their products more appealing to users and, as a result, these users will make even more data and so on. This, in turn, will inevitably eliminate competition and further exacerbate inequality.
Apart from massive job losses and monopolistic markets, AI will exacerbate global economic inequality. According to PwC’s Global AI study, by 2030 AI will add around $16 trillion to the world economy, but almost 70% of gains will be in China and the US.
Two superpowers will be able to reorganize their economies, whilst the rest of the world, especially African countries, will likely remain underdeveloped. AI will give robots the power of sight and the ability to move autonomously and this will revolutionize manufacturing, eliminating the need for low-paid labor. As a result, poor countries will not be able to invigorate economic growth through low-cost exports, the route that has turned impoverished states like China, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan into modern technological powerhouses.
Enormous populations of poor countries will become a burden and a potentially destabilizing force.
By far the most underestimated reverberations of AI are changes in human himself, because the conventional notions of life will not survive in the age of AI. Our society will need a complete redefinition its purposes and functions. Internal psychological struggle will be based upon a fundamental question: what does it mean to be a human?
Apart from economical hurdles posed by the advent of AI, we now witness the emergence of AI as a possible tool of repression. Already many experts are worried about Beijing’s questionable social credit system. Large amounts of data should be employed as a way to create reliable algorithms, but not as a means of oppression.
As for the field of international relations, in addition to immense challenges of climate change, terrorism and radicalism, lack of coherent world order, the AI threat will aggravate not only internal but also global problems. This means more wars and conflicts between nation-states over valuable resources, more unemployed or displaced people will become prone to dangerous nationalism and populism, and the world, in general, will be in disarray.
Who wins and solves all the challenges of AI race will become a predominant superpower. Nowadays, we have one country that seeks to retain its predominant position — the United States — and another which wants greater influence in global affairs and seeks to displace the US-China.
It is unclear which country will dominate AI, but that thanks to advanced technologies, both the US and China will predominate over other states. The world’s mission is to preclude great-power competition akin to the Cold War between the US and China because in such tumultuous and unpredictable age the humanity needs the collaboration of the whole world in order to tackle challenges posed by global warming, AI and terrorism.