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Ira Sigman

March 16, 2017

Draft #4 For Conference

Preparing for the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived on Earth. The AI industry is rising, and AI

will increasingly touch human lives in the coming decade. Considering the inevitable

(and helpful) presence of AI in the American economy and society, we can and should

anticipate major socio-economic changes, plan for those changes, set governmental

policies accounting for those changes, and establish a clear system of ethics regarding AI.

What is AI?

There is no single definition of AI that is universally accepted by

practitioners. Some define AI loosely as a computerized system that
exhibits behavior that is commonly thought of as requiring
intelligence. Others define AI as a system capable of rationally
solving complex problems or taking appropriate actions to achieve
its goals in whatever real world circumstances it encounters (National
Science and Technology Council 6).

A key example of the AI is IBMs Watson.

Watson is a supercomputer, which was developed by IBM.

However, Watson goes one step further than other supercomputers.
It can also be used to predict the security of an investment, or when
retirement planning. IBM has also provided other possible uses for
Watson including: Government use to determine public safety and
security, as well as consumer insight services within the call centre
industry. However the jewel in the crown of the capabilities of
Watson is clearly in its potential in the healthcare industry, specifically, in
diagnosis (Wagle 17).

Technically, what we call Artificial Intelligence, is machine learning.

At the most basic level, machine learning seeks to develop methods

for computers to improve their performance at certain tasks on the
basis of observed data. Typical examples of such tasks might
include detecting pedestrians in images taken from an autonomous
vehicle, classifying gene-expression patterns from leukemia patients

into subtypes by clinical outcome, or translating English sentences into
French (Ghahramani 452).

However, as Ghahramani discusses, the scope of machine-learning tasks is even broader

than these pattern classification or mapping tasks, and can include optimization and

decision making, compressing data and automatically extracting interpretable models

from data (Ibid.).

It is not only large companies like IBM that are developing AI technologies. As

IBMs Watson deploys into large industries such as finance and healthcare, start-up

businesses continue to develop and innovate AI. The start-ups are not just dreaming of

large investment infusions into their new business ventures the cash is flowing in and

supporting their development and growth. As Fortune Magazine published in December

of 2016:

Investments in startups specializing in artificial intelligence, the

subspecialties of machine learning, and big data analysis are booming.
Now Microsoft is expanding its efforts with a new investment fund
focused on startups using AI for "inclusive growth and positive
impact on society." Although artificial intelligence research seemingly made
little progress for decades, recent advances using ever-more
powerful computing chips have cracked some of the biggest
challenges, leading to a flood of startups with new business ideas. Over
250 AI startups collected total venture capital funding of $1.7
billion in the first half of 2016, up from 176 companies and $1.2
billion for the same period a year earlier, according to CB Insights.
Among the leading investors were the venture capital units from leading
tech companies, including Intel, Google, and Samsung (Pressman).

Not only are start ups getting well-funded to grow AI technology, but the

automotive industry is also recognizing and growing AI technology. As autonomous

driving technology becomes important for upcoming car industries, fundamental driving

assistant skills are being included in commercial cars and the size of the market is

increasing (Lim et al. 1).

The Obama administration recognized, researched and published on the subject of

AI. In a detailed report entitled, Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence, the

administration explained:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to help address some of

the biggest challenges that society faces. Smart vehicles may save
hundreds of thousands of lives every year worldwide, and increase
mobility for the elderly and those with disabilities. Smart buildings
may save energy and reduce carbon emissions. Precision medicine
may extend life and increase quality of life. Smarter government
may serve citizens more quickly and precisely, better protect those at
risk, and save money. AI-enhanced education may help teachers give
every child an education that opens doors to a secure and fulfilling life.
These are just a few of the potential benefits if the technology is
developed with an eye to its benefits and with careful consideration
of its risks and challenges (National Science and Technology Council 5).

In addition to the government recognizing the future of AI, because business is

developing and growing AI technology, business schools are making forecasts and

educating about the AI marketplace. For example, Shinn interviewed James Pang, a

visiting associate professor at the National University of Singapores School of

Computing and Business School, who explained:

Autonomous transportation, or driverless cars, soon will be

commonplace For most people, they will be the first experience
with physically embodied AI systems, and they will strongly influence
the publics perception of AI. Many companiesincluding
Google, Uber, Tesla, and Baidualready are making significant
progress in this area. The worlds first driverless taxi already is
operating in Singapore, and Uber also has started its first driverless taxi
service in Pittsburgh (Shinn).

Regarding healthcare, Pang explained, AI has already started to make an impact

in this industry For example, the IBM Watson Oncology Advisor now provides

oncology treatment advice to doctors at several hospitals in North America and Asia. The

journey of AI in healthcare will not be fast or smooth, but healthcare will be one of the

most impactful AI applications in our daily lives (Shinn).

Pang predicts we will experience increased interaction with AI in our daily lives.

For example, Pang stated AI already have entered our lives as intelligent vacuum

cleaners and servers at restaurants, but were going to see more of these. Pang also

expects AI also to make an impact in areas such as public safety and security,

employment and the workplace, education, and entertainment. These industries will need

skilled personnel with a new set of specialized analytic and technical skills (Shinn). For

this reason, many believe AI to be the next boogeyman of American focus. Whatever

eliminates jobs is a bad thing by way the American public, which made for such quick

belief in the Y2K hype of the late 1990s, and the modern distrust of the Chinese due to

their quick growth and rampant elimination of traditional American jobs in


Given the growth and predicted expansion of AI in our lives and society, we must

consider and plan for the economic and socio-economic impacts of AI. For example, how

will the transportation industry be affected? With many people supporting themselves

and their families as truck drivers, what will all those truck drivers do for work when

their jobs are replaced by driverless trucks? As explained in a White House Report in

December of 2016, AI-driven automation will transform the economy over the coming

years and decades. The challenge for policymakers will be to update, strengthen, and

adapt policies to respond to the economic effects of AI. (Lee) Changing with the times

has never been a strong suit in American politics, as of now there is no true restrictions

over what AI can and cannot do.

The White House Report suggests policymakers should prepare for five primary

economic effects:

Positive contributions to aggregate productivity growth;

Changes in the skills demanded by the job market,
including greater demand for higher-level technical skills;
Uneven distribution of impact, across sectors, wage
levels, education levels, job types, and locations;
Churning of the job market as some jobs disappear
while others are created; and
The loss of jobs for some workers in the short-run,
and possibly longer depending on policy responses (Ibid.).

Given that governmental action will be needed to address these five economic

effects, we can reasonably anticipate that politics will significantly impact the making of

these economic policies. While the White House Report was issued under the time of the

Obama administration, we do not yet know what the current administration and Congress

will do in budgeting for and addressing these policies. This creates uncertainty as to the

role that our American government will take in addressing the needs of our society as we

move further and further into our future with AI.

While we do not have a clear, current set of government policies, industry leaders

are looking at this issue. For example, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, has explained

recently, Robots are taking human jobs (Delaney). In a recent interview, Gates

explained his belief that governments should tax companies use of robots, as a way to at

least temporarily slow the spread of automation and to fund other types of employment.

Gates further explained, a robot tax could finance jobs taking care of elderly people or

working with kids in schools, for which needs are unmet and to which humans are

particularly well suited. He argues that governments must oversee such programs rather

than relying on businesses, to redirect the jobs to help people with lower incomes


Gates also has some specific ideas as to the amount of the robot tax he

advocates. He explained, Certainly there will be taxes that relate to automation. Right

now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is

taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to

do the same thing, youd think that wed tax the robot at a similar level (Ibid.).

At first hearing about the robot tax proposal, one may worry it will harm

innovation and decrease the future of the AI industry. But we must consider the impact of

not following Gates advice. Applying Gates robot tax concept, we can make some

basic assumptions about its impact. For example, if robots were taxed at the same level as

a human doing the same job, then the incentive for employers to replace humans with

robots (AI displacement) would be decreased. Logically, we can then assume that the

number of employees displaced (and losing their incomes) from AI displacement would

be decreased, which would decrease the socio-economic impact on workers and their


It is not only the worker and his or her family that would be affected by AI

displacement. Consider the impact on the local businesses and communities of workers

who are displaced by robots. When a worker leaves work for lunch or to go home, he or

she buys food, clothing and shelter. Robots do not need food, clothing and shelter. So,

what happens to the local restaurants, the local apartment buildings, and the local

shopping malls? Robots do not need haircuts. What happens to the local barber shop or

hair salon? Robots do not need amusement parks or hotels. What happens to the tourist

industry? Robots do not need books. What happens to the book stores? Robots do not

need bars. What happens to the night clubs and entertainment industry? These are just

examples. But we can imagine without much effort the severe impact on workers and

their communities if AI replaces too many workers without re-directing and shifting those

workers into new earning opportunities.

Looking at a specific job for illustration, and considering a job in the salary range

referenced by Bill Gates, heavy and tractor trailer truck drivers provide an example of

potential impact of AI. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the latest

available data (2017) on national earnings for truck drivers shows the annual mean wage

for a heavy and tractor trailer truck driver is $42,500.00. And according to the Bureaus

Outlook Handbook for Heavy and Tractor Trailer Drivers, there were 1,797,700 jobs as of

the latest publication in 2014. So approximately 1.7 million heavy and tractor truck

drivers could be impacted and/or displaced by driverless trucks (Occupational Outlook


And we should not be thinking only about the impact upon those earning less than

$100,000.00 per year. For example, the latest data (2015) from U.S. Bureau of Labor

Statistics shows that the National Annual Mean Wage for Airline Pilots is $136.400.00,

and the Annual Mean Wage for Air Traffic Controller is $118,740.00. (Occupational

Employment Statistics Query System). So what if airline pilots and air traffic controllers

are replaced or many are replaced with AI? Their families, their neighborhoods, and

those they pay such as mortgage holders, banks, investment funds, and charities will also

be impacted.

The Obama administration issued two reports on the issues related to AI. The

second report specifically addressed economic impact. That report explains, for example:

Recent research suggests that the effects of AI on the labor market in

the near term will continue the trend that computerization and
communication innovations have driven in recent decades.
Researchers estimates on the scale of threatened jobs over the next
decade or two range from 9 to 47 percent. For context, every 3
months about 6 percent of jobs in the economy are
destroyed by shrinking or closing businesses, while a slightly larger
percentage of jobs are added resulting in rising employment and a
roughly constant unemployment rate. The economy has
repeatedly proven itself capable of handling this scale of change,
although it would depend on how rapidly the changes happen and how
concentrated the losses are in specific occupations that are hard to shift
Research consistently finds that the jobs that are threatened by
automation are highly concentrated among lower-paid, lower-skilled,
and less-educated workers. This means that automation will
continue to put downward pressure on demand for this group,
putting downward pressure on wages and upward pressure
on inequality. In the longer-run, there may be different or larger
(Executive Office of the President 2).

And it is not just employees that will be impacted by skilled employees loss of income,

but also the governments they support through their tax dollars.

It is not difficult to see how tax revenue would decline if a large percentage of workers

were displaced by AI. When we consider the far-reaching impact of large-scale AI

displacement, Bill Gates robot tax moves from an idea to an apparent necessity.

Without it, we will have significantly fewer people contributing taxes, and at the same

time we will have significantly fewer people (and businesses) needing social services and

basic support. With more need and less revenue to meet that need, the potential for a

major economic shortfall is clear.

Beyond economics, we also need to envision the moral and social effects of

increased AI in our society. We need to plan the system of ethics foe AI so that we are not

just reacting to problems but setting up an ethics system to be followed as AI grows. How

will we treat and interact with intelligent machines? What limits, if any, will be put on an

AI in its interaction with humans and the world? How do we set a system of morals for

the way that humans and AI treat each other? If AI are intelligent, is it moral to use

them as slaves, even if they begin to dream and feel? All these and many more

questions demonstrate the need to a system of ethics regarding AI.

Looking first at the issues we face in making the AI moral and friendly to

humans, rather than destructive and threatening to humans, futurists are making proposals

for an ethics system for the behavior of AI machines. For example:

Today, some futurists are attempting to take seriously the question of

how to avoid a robot apocalypse. They believe that artificial
intelligence (AI) and autonomous robots will play an ever-
increasing role as servants of humanity. In the near term, robots will
care for the ill and aged, while AI will monitor our streets for traffic
and crime. In the far term, robots will become responsible for optimizing
and controlling the flows of money, energy, goods, and services, for
conceiving of and carrying out new technological
innovations, for strategizing and planning military defenses, and so
forth in short, for taking over the most challenging and difficult
areas of human affairs. As dependent as we already are on
machines, they believe, we should and must expect to be much more
dependent on machine intelligence in the future. So we will want to
be very sure that
the decisions being made ostensibly on our behalf are in fact
conducive to our well-being. Machines that are both autonomous
and beneficent will require some kind of moral framework to guide
their activities (Rubin 58).

At first thought it may seem far-fetched or fantastical to consider a robot

apocalypse, but the improvements in the technology and growth of the AI industry

justify the consideration of these concerns. Still, some scientists resist the idea of placing

of any limits on the development of AI, arguing such limits would interfere with

scientific development, creativity and freedom. For example:

Advocates of moral machines, or Friendly AI, as it is sometimes

called, evince at least some awareness that they face an uphill battle.
For one, their quest to make machines moral has not yet caught on
broadly among those actually building the robots and developing
artificial intelligence. Moreover, as Friendly AI researcher Eliezer
S. Yudkowsky seems aware, any effort to articulate moral boundaries
especially in explicitly ethical terms will inevitably rouse the
suspicions of the moral relativism that, as Jonas suggests, is so
ingrained in the scientific-technological enterprise. Among
first questions Yudkowsky presents to himself in the Frequently
Asked Questions section of his online book Creating Friendly AI
(2001) are, Isnt all morality relative? and Who are you to decide
what Friendliness is? In other words, wont moral machines
have to be relativists too? (Rubin 59).

Because of the competing views on whether and to what extent any person has the

right to decide what is moral or friendly, further discussion and common ground

would be needed among policymakers to resolve these philosophical questions.

Politicians have differing views, and even views influenced by businesses and special

interests, when they make philosophical judgments in public policy. One can reasonably

infer it will take many years of discussion for any consensus to build so that real policies

can be put in place for a system of AI ethics. Given the speed of AI growth and the

complexity of these issues, these discussions need to be occurring now and continuing

with serious attention, not written off as science fiction fantasy.

On the flip side of the robot apocalypse considerations are the considerations of

how we will treat robots and what rights they will have in our society.

Many of the original concepts for such robot rights stem from the
precept that robots will ultimately be answerable to pre-set human
laws. The universally acknowledged original source of this notion was
generated in the sphere of science fiction where the seminal ideas

presented in the stories of the biochemist and futurist Isaac Asimov
were formulated into three initial laws (Asimov 1950a) and a
subsequent zeroeth law (Asimov 1985, 1950b). Here the higher
numbered laws are superseded by the lower laws:

0. A robot must not harm humanity

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a
human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except
where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection
does not conflict with the First or Second Law (Ashrafian 31-32).

While Asimov wrote this system of robot rights decades ago, it does remain a

solid framework for our planning and policymaking. Ultimately, Asimovs system does

allow for a robot to protect its own existence. This may seem alarming to people who

worry of the robot apocalypse. But in Asimovs system, the robots right to protect its

own existence is limited by the First and Second laws, both of which protect humans.

Therefore, the concerns about robot apocalypse should be decreased by those limitations

on robot rights.

Ashrafian, however, points out a missing piece in Asimovs system of robot


Whilst all these proposed regulations carry the ideals of potential

future robot activity amongst mankind, they do not consider the
nature of how each artificial intelligence will act on other artificial
intelligences. What is the character of robotrobot interaction? And
what morals should this interaction demonstrate? The interactions
between artificial intelligences or robots can be termed Artificial
Intelligence-on-Artificial Intelligence or AIonAI. There is a need for
ethical inquiry into this area, especially insofar as AIonAI is likely
to impact not only human-robot interaction (HRI) but also
interactions among human beings (Ashrafian 32).

In addition to the need for a system of rules that protect humans from powerful AI

machines and rules to address the rights and interactions between and among AI

machines, we also need to look at the limitations on how humans can treat AI machines.

Would it be ethical to use AI as slaves if they seem to develop feelings and suffer

about the experience? It seems right that we should protect AI from abuse by humans as

well as abuse from each other. Just like we protect animals from abuse and outlaw the use

of animals fighting each other for human entertainment (dog fighting for example), we

should treat intelligent machines in a way that shows we are moral human beings.

Ashrafian proposes as follows:

In order to address this, a law of AIonAI rights can prevent robot-to-robot

abuses, but also can importantly reinforce mankinds central ethics
of decency and morals. The ultimate adoption of a law of AIonAI not
only offers guidance for the future of robotics and artificial intelligence
but also offers a deep-seated and beneficial reflection on the fair and just
principles of human society (Ashrafian 39).

As we look forward to the era of self-driving cars and the other amazing new

technologies AI development will bring, we also need to prepare for the economic and

moral challenges of the AI-integrated world. The evidence shows that the AI-integrated

world is very likely to occur within our lifetimes, and it has already begun. Governments,

politicians, scientists, economists, philosophers, ethicists, lawyers, historians, futurists

and coders will all need to discuss, reach some level of consensus on, and put in place a

cross-disciplinary system to guide us as we cross this new territory. A cross-disciplinary

panel or commission of experts in all these fields should be created to begin this

complicated work and issue reports for public input and consideration.

Works Cited:

Ashrafian, Hutan. "AIonAI: A Humanitarian Law of Artificial Intelligence and

Robotics." Science and Engineering Ethics 21.1 (2014): 29-40. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Charles T. Rubin, "Machine Morality and Human Responsibility," The New Atlantis,
Number 32, Summer 2011, pp. 58-79.

Delaney, Kevin J. "The Robot that Takes your Job Should Pay Taxes, says Bill
Gates." Quartz. Quartz Media LLC, 17 Feb. 2017. Web. 16 Mar. 2017.

Executive Office of the President. Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the

Economy. Washington, DC: n.p., 2016. Print.

Ghahramani, Zoubin. "Nature." Probabilistic machine learning and artificial intelligence

5.21 (2015): 452-59. Web.

Lee, Kristin. Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy. White House Report.
N.p.: n.p., n.d. Whitehouse.gov. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Lim, Kwangyong, Yongwon Hong, Yeongwoo Choi, and Hyeran Byun. "Real-time traffic
sign recognition based on a general purpose GPU and deep-learning." Plos One 12.3
(2017): 1-22. Web.

Pressman, Aaron. "Microsoft Plans to Back More AI Startups Through Venture

Funding." Microsoft to Back More AI, Machine Learning Startups With VC Funding |
Fortune.com. Fortune, 12 Dec. 2016. Web. 19 Mar. 2017.

Shinn, Sharon. "The Inhuman Touch: Educators Teach the Nuances of Artificial
Intelligence." BizEd. Http://www.aacsb.edu/, 20 Dec. 2016. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.

The National Science and Technology Council, and Office of Science and Technology
Policy. Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence. White House Report; Executive
Office of the President National Science and Technology Council National Science and
Technology Council Committee on Technology. Washington, DC: n.p., 2016. Print.

United State Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Division of

Occupational Employment Statistics. Occupational Employment Statistics Query System.
N.d. Raw data. Https://data.bls.gov/oes/#/home, Washington, DC.

United States Department of Labor, and Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational

Outlook Handbook . N.d. Raw data. Https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-
material-moving/heavy-and-tractor-trailer-truck-drivers.htm, Washington, DC.

Wagle, Kunal. "IBM Watson: Revolutionizing Healthcare?" Young Scientists Journal 6.13
(2013): n. pag. Web.