17 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 299 2019 have developed a reliable way to control such technology. In 2018, Google responded to protests from their own employees by agreeing to refrain from developing AI for weapons systems and other forms of destruction. Technology Innovation and Wealth Distribution There can be little question that technology innovation is driving transformative changes nationally and globally. Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist for the World Bank, observes that the economic growth resulting from technology will create unprecedented wealth in the years to come, albeit through drastically uneven distribution and with social implications that will require judicious foresight and humanistic guidance.4 Consider that in just the next 10 years, digital technology is estimated to add around $100 trillion (net) in GDP to the global economy. Of that amount, AI alone will be responsible for about $15 trillion.5 It is a staggering figure, but that’s just the next decade. What about the next quarter-century? No less a leader than Kai-Fu Lee, the CEO of Sinovation Ventures and formerly president of Google China, has argued that AI will produce a scale of inequality that will create a gaping wealth divide between regions of the world as well as within individual nations. Without some drastic intervention, this inequality will escalate at a speed that previous analysts have scarcely imagined.6 This is because the massive wealth that AI generates is concentrated into the hands of an increasingly smaller portion of humanity. This is happening at a time of increasing precarity for the middle-class—inflation-adjusted, real wages are stagnant or declining— and dissipating political support for the poor. Were living-wage jobs to decrease rapidly due to AI automation (consider that AI is already replacing humans in finance and healthcare), millions more people of a previously middle- or upper- class would be plunged into underemployment, unemployment, and poverty. Stiglitz has urged that the current relationship between capital and politics, moreover, has already created an environment
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