Economists blame technology for rising inequality

New York.– Daron Acemoglu, an influential economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been advocating what is described as “excessive automation”.

The financial reward of investing in machines and software has been stubbornly elusive. But he says the growing inequality as a result of those investments and the public policy that encourages them is very clear.

Half or more of the growing wage gap among American workers over the past 40 years is due to the automation of tasks performed by human workers, especially men without college degrees, according to some of her recent research.

Globalization and weakening of unions have played a role. “But the most important factor is automation,” Acemoglu said. The inequality resulting from automation is “not an act of God or nature,” he said. “It is a result of the choices that corporations and we as a society have made about how to use technology.”

Acemoglu, a powerful scholar whose research makes him one of the most cited economists in academic journals, is not the only prominent economist to argue that machines and computer software have made significant contributions to helping policymakers. United States. Their numbers are growing, and their voices are adding to the chorus of criticism surrounding Silicon Valley giants and the massive advancement of technology.

Paul Romer, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on technological innovation and economic growth, sounded the alarm at the fledgling market power and the impact of large tech companies. “Economists taught: ‘This is the market. There’s nothing we can do,'” he said in an interview last year. “It’s really that bad.”

Anton Korinek, an economist at the University of Virginia, and Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel economist at Columbia University, have written an article “Steering Technological Progress” that recommends steps entrepreneurs should take from financial changes to financial changes to seek “successes.” for the workforce. ,

Eric Brynjolfson, an economist at Stanford, is a general technology optimist. But in an essay to be published this spring in Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he warns of a “Turing trap.” The phrase is a reference to the Turing test, named after Alan Turing, a pioneer in artificial intelligence, in which the goal is for a computer program to engage in dialogue so that it is indistinguishable from a human.

For decades, Brynjolfson said, the Turing test, matching human performance, has been the guiding metaphor for technologists, entrepreneurs, and policymakers when thinking about AI. This prompts AI systems to replace workers rather than improve their performance. “I think it’s a mistake,” he said.

The concerns raised by these economists are getting more attention in Washington at a time when the tech giant is already under attack on multiple fronts. Users routinely criticize companies for not doing enough to protect user privacy, saying companies amplify misinformation. State and federal lawsuits accuse Google and Facebook of violating antitrust laws, and Democrats are attempting to control the market power of the industry’s biggest companies through new laws.