[EconTalk] Amy Webb on Artificial Intelligence, Humanity, and the Big Nine

Amy Webb on Artificial Intelligence, Humanity, and the Big Nine

11/03/2019 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts

Web player: http://podplayer.net/?id=65232824
Episode: http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2019/Webbbignine.mp3

Futurist and author Amy Webb talks about her book, The Big Nine, with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Webb observes that artificial intelligence is currently evolving in a handful of companies in the United States and China. She worries that innovation in the United States may lead to social changes that we may not ultimately like; in China, innovation may end up serving the geopolitical goals of the Chinese government with some uncomfortable foreign policy implications. Webb’s book is a reminder that artificial intelligence does not evolve in a vacuum–research and progress takes place in an institutional context. This is a wide-ranging conversation about the implications and possible futures of a world where artificial intelligence is increasingly part of our lives.

Start Date: 2019-04-30

Finish Date: 2019-05-01


  • I got the sense from this that Amy Webb is so worried about a problem but so unable to think of solutions that she is grasping at all possible straws, which is why she kept saying “I’m not a fan of regulation but I see no other way out.”
  • The metaphor of our agency being taken away in a death by a thousand papercuts is alarming.
  • And truly, I’ve almost forgotten how the internet used to be before ecommerce swamped it.
  • I was thinking while listening to this that I’m finally in a financial place where I’m ready to start paying for services rather than getting ad-supported free ones. But that doesn’t go for most of the world and who even offers good paid services to compete with GSuite any more? And as Amy Webb says, it’s now no longer a question of only the consumer facing products, but the deep infrastructure of AWS, etc that the internet runs on.

We are going to live in interesting times.

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