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The problem with this view is that it discounts the differing historical rates of innovation around the world. Many of the world changing technologies that were introduced during the first two industrial revolutions were not rapidly disseminated everywhere. It can be seen today, that developing countries that lacked the infrastructure of legacy technologies rapidly adopt the latest breakthroughs faster than developed nations with infrastructural lock-in.

This pessimism is more likely to be the case of the way new technologies are deployed in rich countries, rather than an indication of declining innovation. The final view argues that there is a lag between innovation and implementation. In this view, the potential for productivity growth already exists, but the techniques needed to implement new innovation, and the understanding that allows for technology to disperse across an economy, are missing.

They find that in each historical technological revolution, there are early leaders who are able to build the technology and profit off of its creation, but it takes a while before others are able to adequately develop their own versions, intensifying market competition, thereby leading to widespread productivity and economic growth.

The Public Interest

These market leaders tend to have smaller workforces and rely on more patents, suggesting that if the rest of the market adopted the management practices they undertake, the missing productivity would appear as use of innovation disperses. Estimates of the productivity gains that AI is predicted would, given this analysis, not require new tools to measure, nor would they be more mild than previous technological revolutions. The issue lies firmly in the domain of policy.

Knowledge and Opinion in the American Electorate

Greater communication between academic researchers in the field and the public at large, improved understanding of the pace of technological development, and greater political discussion of the capabilities of new technologies would go a long way in improving the general economic impact of AI. While it is likely that market forces will incentivize communication and understanding in the long-run, accelerating this process will benefit the nations who make these investments the earliest.

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A model that ought to be revived is that of the US Office of Technology Assessment , a congressional office that existed between to at the height of the computer revolution. It provided technology assessment in a way that made complex innovations understandable to policy makers and the general public. Not only did such an initiative allow for non-partisan evidence in technology related decision making, but its mandate encouraged publications that were readable for non-technical audience.

The current situation in AI features a stark contrast between the academic research and sensationalist journalism , without many steps in between. Such a mandate would allow industry to develop AI practices that are forward thinking, yet realistic. There are many challenges that would result from a world with low productivity, especially one with populations ageing as fast as they are today.

The Paradox of Mass Politics

Artificial intelligence provides an opportunity to resolve these issues, creating widespread opportunity and prosperity. In order to bring this about, the right investments need to be made in encouraging the dissemination of this transformative technology. You can follow him on Twitter and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Sign in. Get started. The Artificial Intelligence Productivity Paradox. Ryan Khurana Follow. Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed the article, we would appreciate your support by clicking the clap button below or by sharing this article so others can find it. Want to read more? You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook or subscribe to receive our latest stories. Executive Director of the Institute for Advancing Prosperity.

Axiology, Horology, and Technology. When we asked respondents about the idea of using gas revenue for cash transfers without specifying any other policy options, they were more enthusiastic.

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A majority of Tanzanians supported direct distribution in general 62 percent — more so if transfers were targeted to children and the elderly 68 percent , and even more so if targeted to child savings accounts 77 percent. But that support fell dramatically once the question was posed as a tradeoff between direct distribution and the alternative of the government spending the revenues.

Frontiers 134: Mike Gravel, A Political Paradox

If question phrasing matters so much, perhaps voters just need to stop and think this issue through. So what happened to support for cash transfers when we subjected respondents to our RCT in deliberative democracy?

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The share of Tanzanians who prefer direct distribution over government spending fell from 28 percent to 18 percent after deliberation. In short, the more people heard and talked about cash transfers, the less they liked the idea. Figure 1. Cash transfers vs. Some people think that the money should be given directly to households Other people think that the money should be spent by the government for what the public needs Where would you place yourself?

To explain the low level of support for cash transfers, we spliced the data a variety of ways: by wealth, education, gender, and a measure of trust in government.

Paradigms and Paradox: The Politics of Economic Ideas in Two Moments of Crisis

Based on conversations with opposition politicians in Dar es Salaam, we speculated that people who trust the current government less would be more supportive of cash. What we found is the opposite: more trust in government yields more support for direct distribution, although this correlation is not statistically significant. We can only speculate after the fact as to why. Perhaps respondents preferred the known to the unknown: schools and health clinics have, after all, been built in most villages in rural Tanzania in the last 30 years.

During deliberation, participants questioned the mechanisms required to channel cash directly to households.

source Who would be in charge of accounting for that transfer? Anecdotally, one reason respondents cited for favoring government spending over direct distribution during the discussion was that social services encourage a collective voice that helps increase accountability, while cash transfers would focus people on private interests and leave room for corruption.

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We found a bit more support for the idea that poorer, less educated people are more in favor of cash. This gap is not huge, though. Statistically, the strongest explanation of cash preferences is gender — and in particular, the interaction between gender and deliberation. In the control group not shown men and women reported nearly identical views about cash transfers.

But men, on the other hand, saw a fairly large decline in support for cash. None of these gender differences existed before deliberation. But all demographic groups rich, poor, men, women, etc. Figure 2. People like cash transfers in principle, especially women and especially when targeted to vulnerable groups or for savings, but both men and women prefer government services. After deliberation, percent of respondents who supported distributing gas revenue through cash transfers How much should these poll results matter to economists advocating cash transfer programs in the developing world?

For instance, in a low-income country, sovereign rents from big oil or gas discoveries may seriously distort the relationship between government and citizens. Colleagues here at CGD argue that direct distribution of natural resource rents can help maintain the link between government revenue and citizen accountability.

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Another response to these poll results is that people might prefer cash transfers once exposed to them. We suspect poll numbers would look different in these countries where a significant share of the population already depends on government transfers for a large share of their livelihood. You would have expected the opposite effect.