Tech icon Marc Andreessen has weighed in on AI’s impact on the workplace, and he doesn’t believe it will lead to unemployment.
Artificial intelligence is dominating the news, thanks to OpenAI, ChatGPT, and Microsoft’s incorporation of the tech into its Bing search engine. One of the leading concerns surrounding AI is that it will lead to a mass wave of unemployment as AIs and chatbots replace human beings.
According to Andreessen, however, those fears are largely overblown and ignore historical precedence. He lays out his case in a Substack post:
We had two such anti-technology jobs moral panics in the last 20 years — “outsourcing” enabled by the Internet in the 2000’s, and “robots” in the 2010’s. The result was the best national and global economy in human history in pre-COVID 2019, with the most jobs at the highest wages ever.
Andreessen then goes on to say that he could make all the “standard arguments against technologically-driven unemployment” that applied to outsourcing and robots, and apply them to AI. However, he says those arguments are not even needed because of a fundamental difference regarding AIs role in the current economy: it is illegal.
That’s right, according to Andreesseen, AI is already illegal in much of the economy, restricting how much of an impact it can make on the larger job market.
Andreessen breaks down the economy into two sectors: one that is heavily regulated, either by the government or by itself. These sectors, by their very nature, are “technologically stagnant.” In contrast, the other sectors are those industries where there is less regulation and technology is allowed to have a progressive and disruptive influence.
Now think about what happens over time. The prices of regulated, non-technological products rise; the prices of less regulated, technologically-powered products fall. Which eats the economy? The regulated sectors continuously grow as a percentage of GDP; the less regulated sectors shrink. At the limit, 99% of the economy will be the regulated, non-technological sectors, which is precisely where we are headed.
Therefore AI cannot cause overall unemployment to rise, even if the Luddite arguments are right this time. AI is simply already illegal across most of the economy, soon to be virtually all of the economy.
Andreessen’s take is an interesting and thought-provoking analysis. You can read his full post here.