November 2022

IZA DP No. 15713: The Future Economics of Artificial Intelligence: Mythical Agents, a Singleton and the Dark Forest

This paper contributes to the economics of AI by exploring three topics neglected by economists: (i) the notion of a Singularity (and Singleton), (ii) the existential risks that AI may pose to humanity, including that from an extraterrestrial AI in a Dark Forest universe; and (iii) the relevance of economics' Mythical Agent (homo economicus) for the design of value-aligned AI-systems. From the perspective of expected utility maximization, which both the fields of AI and economics share, these three topics are interrelated. By exploring these topics, several future avenues for economic research on AI becomes apparent, and areas where economic theory may benefit from a greater understanding of AI can be identified. Two further conclusions that emerge are first that a Singularity and existential risk from AI are still science fiction: which, however, should not preclude economics from bearing on the issues (it does not deter philosophers); and two, that economists should weigh in more on existential risk, and not leave this topic to lose credibility because of the Pascalian fanaticism of longtermism.