Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tech Tuesday: Mark Cuban Predicts AI Entrepreneur Trillionaires

Would it be fun to be a trillionaire? I don't know. I have enough stuff on my plate. And besides, what can you do with a trillion dollars that you can't do with a billion?

This article at CNBC.com makes the sensational claim that one day there will be people who are trillionaires. Is that really possible? The only time I hear the word Trillion thrown around is when journalists and politicos remind us that the U.S. National Debt is getting out of hand.

How much is a trillion dollars? This visualization will help put it into perspective.

The article, though, begs a follow up question. Does Mark Cuban really believe there will be trillionaires someday? Or is he simply building his own personal brand by getting another sound byte?

Another question. Is this first trillionaire making his or her money by actually generating wealth? Or will it simply be generated by skimming foam off all the world's financial markets, exploiting market inefficiencies?

Will this massive wealth accumulation result in improving the standard of living for the world's poor and disadvantaged?

There's another way we can end up with a trillionaire in our lifetimes. That would be for a massive hurricane-force hyper-inflation to set in. Suppose that the government were to start printing hundred dollar bills and everyone received a Ben Franklin for every penny they turned in. Whoever had the most billions at that point would be the first to become a trillionaire. Minimum wage would be raised to 7000 dollars an hour. Would everyone be happy?

Not really. Multiply everything by 10,000 and see what things will cost then and what will be different? A one dollar Reese's Buttercup would suddenly cost ten thousand dollars. One thing that would be changed is our tax brackets. We'd all be paying more taxes until our legislators resolved that matter satisfactorily.

It would also be the end of foreign trade because other countries would not be able to afford our products. They would be quite expensive to produce.

It's hard to wrap my head around the idea of a trillionaire. How bad do we really need fifty car garages?

Maybe Mr. Cuban was simply inviting us to consider that if AI machines can beat the best minds at chess, poker, Go and Jeopardy, that it's only inevitable that they will find ways to "beat the market." I had the same thought last month. How do I get me an AI machine that can do that?

The Markets don't take a shine to being beaten, though. Back in the late 70's the Hunt brothers found a way to corner the silver market. Unfortunately, the Commodities Exchange changed the rules of the game and the boys lost their shorts.

Fortunately, at this point in time, AI machines are not emotional and vindictive when they lose.

In re-reading Cuban's comments I get the feeling he's just trying to wake people up. The power of AI is already being demonstrated, and it's going to make an impact on our world.

So, what if instead of making a few people into trillionaires we instead use its power to create wealth for everyone?

If this topic interests you, check out my interview last year with Calum Chace, author of The Economic Singularity.

* * * *
Meantime, life goes on all around you. Get into it. 

No comments: