The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

The Sky Is Falling

03/01/2019

Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) was an Englishman and one of the first economists.  However, as a result of his work, economics was often described “the dismal science.”  He concluded that mankind was doomed to war and starvation, because population increases faster than food production.  When population exceeded food, there would be enough war to bring population back into balance.  Pretty dismal, huh?  What he didn’t know is that food production could increase rapidly by using irrigation, improved seed hybrids, crop rotation, etc.

Raymond Kurzweil is an MIT graduate, inventor, writer, that just happens to also be director of engineering at Google.  Like many futurists, he predicts there will be a day when computers become self-aware and take over.  That is the day of “Singularity.”  (Remember the movies about The Terminator?)  Kurzweil is worried about the accelerating rate of growth in artificial intelligence (AI).  He predicts computers will take over by 2045.

I have long worried that the greatest threat to the stock market is not AI being used to buy stocks, but AI being mis-used in the stock market, and I expect that to happen  long before 2045.  Of course, neither Kurzweil nor myself know what other technological changes are waiting to save us from that calamity.  The scientific method taught in our American colleges does not teach us to trust the future.

Do you remember Doris Day singing “Que sera,sera” — (whatever will be, will be) — “the future’s not ours to see”. . .  ?

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