Economist Roger Bootle presents a no-nonsense, evidence-based assessment of what humanity can expect in the coming decades. AI will likely deliver growth in GDP and living standards beyond anything seen in almost 50 years. The book sometimes has a rushed feel, but Bootle’s sensible, levelheaded and practical view of the coming age of AI seems correct and convincing, even though he warns throughout that – predictions being what they are – he may well be wrong.
Until the Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century, technological advances had almost no impact on economic growth and living standards.
Past technological advances, including the wheel and agriculture, took centuries to propagate and more centuries to make a difference. The steam engine required more than a century to revolutionize the world. Though economic growth spiked in the Industrial Revolution, living standards did not rise for most people until well into the late 19th century. The Industrial Revolution improved economies and workers’ lives worldwide, despite the bloodiest and most costly wars in history on either side of the Great Depression.
The postwar period of 1945 to 1973 saw the longest sustained growth in many nations’ histories. Since then, however, improvements in net GDP and living standards have flattened. Some experts see the current long period of stagnation as a return to the pre-Industrial-Revolution era. Flat growth, they argue, comes from the lack of breakthrough inventions and technology on the scale of the steam engine, the phone and electricity.
Some believe AI won’t amount to much...