Cognitive Scarcity and Artificial Intelligence: How Assistive AI Could Alleviate Inequality



The rise of the robots and the end of work. The superintelligence control problem and the end of humanity. The headlines seem to write themselves. The growth of artificial intelligence undoubtedly brings with it many perils. But it also brings many promises. In this article, we focus on the promise of widely distributed assistive artificial intelligences (i.e. AI assistants). We argue that the wide availability of such AI assistants could help to address one aspect of our growing inequality problem. We make this argument by adopting Mullainathan and Shafir’s framework for thinking about the psychological effects of scarcity. We offer our argument as a counterbalance to the many claims made about the inequality-boosting powers of automation and AI.

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