NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Are We Approaching an Economic Singularity? Information Technology and the Future of Economic Growth

William D. Nordhaus

NBER Working Paper No. 21547
Issued in September 2015
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

What are the prospects for long-run economic growth? The present study looks at a recently launched hypothesis, which I label Singularity. The idea here is that rapid growth in computation and artificial intelligence will cross some boundary or Singularity after which economic growth will accelerate sharply as an ever-accelerating pace of improvements cascade through the economy. The paper develops a growth model that features Singularity and presents several tests of whether we are rapidly approaching Singularity. The key question for Singularity is the substitutability between information and conventional inputs. The tests suggest that the Singularity is not near.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21547

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