Capital in the Twenty-First Century, A Free Nation Deep in Debt, Superintelligence – Three Viewpoints

Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, MacDonald’s A Free Nation, Deep in Debt and Bostrum’s Superintelligence: Path’s, Dangers, Strategies speak about some similar topics. I wanted to draw some comparisons.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century A Free Nation, Deep in Debt Superintelligence
Inequality as an economic inevitability (ceteris paribus). Democracy as an economic imperative. Greater-than-human intelligence as an economic inevitability.
Left unchecked, capitalism (and r > g) will lead to extreme inequality. It should be the role of governments to intervene. Left unchecked, governments can tend to autocracy and tyranny. A free market in government debt can hold governments accountable.
Long-run global growth will never exceed 1.5% “History, at the largest scale, seems to exhibit a sequence of distinct growth modes, each much more rapid than its predecessor”

  • Pleistocene Society – 224000 year doubling time
  • Farming Society – 909 year doubling time
  • Industrial Society – 6.3 year doubling time
A large number of citizen bondholders ensures a government enacts the desires of its citizenry. Seed AI could be given a goal of carrying out humanity’s “coherent extrapolated volition”.
The World Wars had a large impact on the structure of capital – destroying a large amount of capital stock and so increasing labour’s share of income. The World Wars changed the role of the citizen bondholder. Firstly in the sense of measures such as rationing and compulsory saving. Secondly, the post-war globalisation means “there is nothing patriotic or intrinsically democratic about [today’s bond markets]. Credit markets still generally rank democracies more favourably than other forms of government”.
Without intervention, in the long-run labour’s share of income will decrease. This is inevitable given how return on capital (r) will be larger than growth (g). After an emergence of superintelligence, “the income share received by labour would then dwindle to practically nil”. All income will be derived from capital, whilst labour income would be driven to the cost of computation.
On the other hand, world GDP would undergo extremely rapid expansion. The doubling time could be days, hours or minutes.
Growth from population increases will become less important as world population plateaus and birth rates fall in the developing world. In western europe, population will decrease putting downward pressure on growth (all growth must come from productivity gains). Simulated minds (mind-uploading) and space colonization implies a potential for extremely rapid population growth. Alternatively, if humans do not end up owning the superintelligence revolution, Malthus rears his ugly head.
We ignore human capital throughout. Human capital! This is very important. Could also be crucial in keeping emergence of superintelligence in check.
Inequality is BAD. Inequality may have “been [one of] the greatest humanitarians”. It enabled “average level of well-being to occasionally bob up slightly above that of life at the very margin of subsistence”.

No real synthesis at this point. I think my biggest problem with Piketty is still the assumption of 1.5% cap on growth – Marx + 1.5%.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century, A Free Nation Deep in Debt, Superintelligence – Three Viewpoints