Can capitalism and artificial intelligence co-exist?


Can capitalism and artificial intelligence co-exist? The answer is no, and I will explain why.

Already for many decades we have seen an accelerating concentration of ownership of transnational corporations. Oxfam reported in 2020 that the world's 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people.

And now, when artificial intelligence is being used more and more in all industries, we will see a much faster concentration of wealth to even fewer people. Why is it so? The simple answer is that the best AI supported company will win it all.

The longer answer is that the companies with a lot of "big data" collected from Facebook, Google, Instagram and many other digital applications, about you, combined with advanced AI analysis and even faster computers and internet, results in extremely deep knowledge about individuals, and capabilities to manipulate people to buy more products and services, which means that these AI supercompanies will earn much more money than their competitors.

This means that the AI winner will either be able to buy its competitors or just wait for the competitors to go bankrupt. In this way the most efficient AI supported company will first dominate its branch and later all sectors, because it has the opportunity to do so, and this corporation will be even more efficient and profitable when including different sectors and more big data. Already today a very few super rich families own and rule the biggest companies, but the future is on a different magnitude.

Capitalism means an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled mainly by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. Through competition the market and prices become efficient. What happens when there is only one or a handful of owners of all industries? It is easy to understand that capitalism cannot function when one or few people own everything, including the algorithms that made it possible. This is a very weird form of monopoly that is not compatible with capitalism.

So what will happen? Can states legislate in a way that hinders this development? I do not think so, it is more of wishful thinking, since AI is such a powerful tool and appropriate legislation would be very difficult. Even now the situation is absurd, and no government can do much. So, what will probably happen?

Let us take a wider global perspective. Most countries have agreed on the 17 sustainable development goals, the SDGs, and we know that the challenges ahead to reach these goals are extremely big. The survival of our civilization and perhaps the entire planet depends on the SDGs. There is no chance that capitalism will solve these challenges, even if industry now tries to argue that PPPs (that means Private Public Partnerships) will solve global challenges. The distortions due to private company interests, among others focus on high profit sectors and biased tech solutions, combined with mega-concentrated ownership, will lead to a dead end. In fact capitalism created almost all the problems we face, so why should we rely on them to solve these very complex challenges? 

No, the solution will be that the public sector will have to take a much greater responsibility for designing and implementing an entirely new economic system where capitalism is replaced by a collaborative system. This system will be much more efficient and better in every way compared to capitalism and it will make people flourish in a way we have never seen.

The only problem is that humanity is not yet wise enough to handle such a system. That is why, I hope, that we as a collective soon figure out that wisdom development must be the new MEGA-trend in all countries.

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