This essay originally appeared on Philosophical Disquisitions.
There is no denying that improvements in technology allow machines to perform tasks that were once performed best by humans. This is at the heart of the technological displacement we see throughout the economy. The key question going forward is whether humans will maintain an advantage in any cognitive or physical activity. The answer to this question will determine whether the future of the economy is one in which humans continue to play a relevant part, or one in which humans are left behind.
To help us answer this question it is worth considering the paradoxes of technological improvement. It is truly amazing that advances in artificial intelligence have allowed machines to beat humans at cognitive games like chess or Jeopardy!, or that cars can now be driven around complex environments without human assistance. At the same time, it is strange that other physical and cognitive skills have been less easy for machines to master, e.g.… Read the rest