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Tim O'Reilly
Says More…

This week in Say More, PS talks with Tim O’Reilly, Founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc., is Visiting Professor of Practice at the University College London Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose and the author of WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us (Harper Business, 2017). 

Project Syndicate: You have called the generative artificial intelligence “bubble” a “productive” one, because the technology is being applied not only in the “betting economy,” but also in the “operating economy,” with “massive amounts of capital” being “used to build the infrastructure of the future.” But, as you write in your 2017 book WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us, in “business and in technology, we often fail to see clearly what is ahead because we are navigating using old maps and sometimes even bad maps.” How, then, can we ensure that the AI infrastructure built today proves broadly beneficial tomorrow?

Tim O’Reilly: Great question. The whole point of a bubble is that it’s a wild exploration of new possibilities – blank spaces on the existing map. But understanding the base layers of the map that still constrain our vision is important.

One unexamined base layer that is impeding the development of broadly beneficial AI is the imperative of modern capitalism – especially in the United States – which places shareholder returns above all other considerations. Until we confront this limiting idea, AI governance is likely to go the way of the “environmental, social, and governance” movement, at best being paid lip service, and at worst, being actively ignored. I wrote about this last year in a piece called “The Alignment Problem Is Not New.”