Student Of Liberty

8. MACHINES.

But to curse machines is to curse the human mind.

Frédéric Bastiat
What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen

In these troubled times when fear is the engine of government across the globe and when the end of full-employment is announced at every turn (or at least the end of your job) because of the coming of age of Artificial Intelligence, it may be useful to review the classics and what Frédéric Bastiat had to say about the consequences feared by the luddites. With some luck, what he was able to see at the time is still valid and the arguments in favour of the Universal Basic Income do not hold water today anymore than it did yesterday.

I also note two important points that had been touched upon previously concerning innovation, namely:

  • There is no fundamental economic difference between international trade and innovation, as shown by David Friedman with the allegory of San Francisco harbour as a machine to turn corn into automobiles.
  • Not only is innovation offered for free to humanity in the long run (nobody pays for the invention of the printing press nowadays) but it benefits the consumer to the tune of 97.8% (not sure if the decimals are really necessary) according to William Nordhaus. 

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