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Artificial Intelligence and Economic Growth

Philippe Aghion, Benjamin F. Jones, Charles I. Jones


This chapter is a preliminary draft unless otherwise noted. It may not have been subjected to the formal review process of the NBER. This page will be updated as the chapter is revised.

Chapter in forthcoming NBER book The Economics of Artificial Intelligence: An Agenda, Ajay K. Agrawal, Joshua Gans, and Avi Goldfarb, editors
Conference held September 13-14, 2017
Forthcoming from University of Chicago Press

This paper examines the potential impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on economic growth. We model AI as the latest form of automation, a broader process dating back more than 200 years. Electricity, internal combustion engines, and semiconductors facilitated automation in the last century, but AI now seems poised to automate many tasks once thought to be out of reach, from driving cars to making medical recommendations and beyond. How will this affect economic growth and the division of income between labor and capital? What about the potential emergence of “singularities” and “superintelligence," concepts that animate many discussions in the machine-intelligence community? How will the linkages between AI and growth be mediated by firm-level considerations, including organization and market structure? The goal throughout is to refine a set of critical questions about AI and economic growth, and to contribute to shaping an agenda for the field. One theme that emerges is based on Baumol’s “cost disease” insight: growth may be constrained not by what we are good at but rather by what is essential and yet hard to improve.

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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w23928, Artificial Intelligence and Economic Growth, Philippe Aghion, Benjamin F. Jones, Charles I. Jones
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