How AI Will Destroy Capitalism

Should capitalism be saved—or replaced?

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

AI is threat­en­ing to des­troy capitalism.

OpenAI:s CEO Sam Altman recently hin­ted at an excit­ing pro­pos­al about the future of eco­nom­ic systems:

I think cap­it­al­ism is awe­some. I love cap­it­al­ism. Of all of the bad sys­tems the world has, it’s the best one — or the least bad one we found so far. I hope we find a way bet­ter one. And I think that if AGI really truly fully hap­pens, I can ima­gine all these ways that it breaks cap­it­al­ism.”
— Sam Altman, CEO of Open AI 1Interview with Forbes: OpenAI’s Sam Altman Talks ChatGPT And How Artificial General Intelligence Can ‘Break Capitalism’

What could Altman be allud­ing to? How could AI poten­tially break capitalism?

In this blog post, I’ll sug­gest a few AI mech­an­isms that will, at the very least, force us to rethink the cur­rent mod­els of capitalism.

Like this:

4 Ways AI Can Break Capitalism

Many experts and schol­ars are now wor­ried about the future of cap­it­al­ism. Can such a suc­cess­ful and resi­li­ent sys­tem with­stand the upcom­ing AI challenges?

1. Disrupting Supply and Demand Further

Supply and demand are corner­stones of cap­it­al­ism. Demand is a chal­len­ging pro­spect for cap­it­al­ism since we might reach a point at which the glob­al pop­u­la­tion reaches its peak — and starts declin­ing. Our cur­rent mod­els of cap­it­al­ism will struggle without a nat­ur­al growth of demand.

The digit­al trans­form­a­tion, how­ever, has already dis­rup­ted the sup­ply func­tion; inform­a­tion and digit­al products can be copied end­lessly (with nearly zero pro­duc­tion costs). This has impacted many indus­tries already and allowed major tech com­pan­ies to dom­in­ate mar­kets by impos­ing arti­fi­cial scarcity.

AI will fur­ther accel­er­ate the deteri­or­a­tion of sup­ply and demand func­tions in the short term. In the long term, AI will likely change the fun­da­ment­al dynam­ics by steer­ing us into becom­ing fully depend­ent on cent­ral­ised AI technology.

2. Eliminating Wealth Creation Distribution

Ownership of the means of pro­duc­tion has always been a cent­ral func­tion of cap­it­al­ism. And this has always been the cent­ral knot of Marxist cri­tique against cap­it­al­ism; wealth accu­mu­la­tion favours the “haves” on behalf of the “have-nots.”

AI tech­no­logy is poised to fur­ther cent­ral­ise wealth by favour­ing those who can research, devel­op, and run com­plex algorithms.

The most moment­ous chal­lenge facing socio-eco­nom­ic sys­tems today is the arrival of arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence. If AI remains under the con­trol of mar­ket forces, it will inex­or­ably res­ult in a super-rich oli­go­poly of data bil­lion­aires who reap the wealth cre­ated by robots that dis­place human labor, leav­ing massive unem­ploy­ment in their wake. […] For the sake of social well-being and secur­ity, indi­vidu­als and private com­pan­ies should not be allowed to pos­sess any exclus­ive cut­ting-edge tech­no­logy or core AI plat­forms. Like nuc­le­ar and bio­chem­ic­al weapons, as long as they exist, noth­ing oth­er than a strong and stable state can ensure society’s safety. If we don’t nation­al­ize AI, we could sink into a dysto­pia remin­is­cent of the early misery of indus­tri­al­iz­a­tion, with its satan­ic mills and street urchins scroun­ging for a crust of bread.”
— Professor Feng Xiang 2Opinion piece in Washington Post: AI will spell the end of cap­it­al­ism

Workers” will have no choice but to util­ise AI tech­no­logy in exchange for the only thing that could allow them to share in the wealth — their user-gen­er­ated data. Those who decide to hold on to their per­son­al data will be out­com­peted by oth­er work­ers powered by lead­ing AI systems.

Source: Sukhayl Niyazov, Medium: The Future of Capitalism in the Age of AI
Source: Sukhayl Niyazov, Medium: The Future of Capitalism in the Age of AI

Read also: Say Hello To My Replika AI

3. Dissolving Value of Human Labour

Owning the means of pro­duc­tion has tra­di­tion­ally been bal­anced by the pro­duc­tion system’s need for work. This has dis­trib­uted at least some of the gen­er­ated wealth and provided mil­lions of humans with mean­ing­ful occupations.

A new class of ‘use­less’ people will be formed, who will simply become irrel­ev­ant and redund­ant in the eco­nomy oper­ated by AI algorithms and robots. Their resent­ment towards the wealthy will likely lead to sig­ni­fic­ant tur­moil in soci­ety and destabil­iz­ing con­sequences.”
Source: Sukhayl Niyazov, inde­pend­ent writer 3Medium: The Future of Capitalism in the Age of AI

While the indus­tri­al revolu­tion has dis­rup­ted the value of manu­al labour, AI will dis­rupt the value of intel­lec­tu­al and cre­at­ive labour.

Cheap labour is “good news” for any cap­it­al­ist sys­tem, but the sys­tem exists on a found­a­tion of human tol­er­ance. There’s a risk that AI will make too many types of labour super­flu­ous too quickly and thus threaten the core demand of cap­it­al­ism itself.

Read also: The Reykjavik Press Release — ChatGPT

4. Outsourcing Management to Smart Contracts

Owning AI sys­tems seems to be a future-proofed bet. But how many can real­ist­ic­ally own such sys­tems if we can­not offer the sys­tem itself any cap­it­al­ist value through human labour?

Through block­chains and smart con­tracts, cor­por­a­tions (and nations) could run AI sys­tems without requir­ing human own­er­ship. Eliminating human error from the own­er­ship equa­tion could become a cap­it­al­ist advant­age in an increas­ingly com­pet­it­ive marketplace.

If every­one gets equal shares (and votes) in cent­ral­ised AI sys­tems and thus bene­fits from wealth pro­duc­tion without invest­ing human labour in return, we cease to be cap­it­al­ist economies. 

This is behind Big Tech’s unstop­pable drive for growth, which leads to mono­pol­isa­tion and enclos­ure under the win­ner takes all prin­ciple. If we con­sider AI as a GPT — tech­no­lo­gies that alter society’s eco­nom­ic and social struc­tures — we need to come up with altern­at­ives in terms of own­er­ship and gov­ernance. The com­mons is pro­posed as an altern­at­ive for think­ing about how to organ­ise AI devel­op­ment and how to dis­trib­ute the value that can be derived from it. Using the com­mons frame­work is also a way of giv­ing soci­ety a more prom­in­ent role in the debate about what we expect from AI and how we should approach it.”
— Reader in Technology & Society, University of Westminster 4Verdegem, P. Dismantling AI cap­it­al­ism: the com­mons as an altern­at­ive to the power con­cen­tra­tion of Big TechAI & Soc (2022). https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​0​7​/​s​0​0​1​4​6​-​022 – 01437‑8

Read also: AI & PR: Beware the Artificial Content Explosion

Should Capitalism Be Saved?

These four AI out­comes pose a real threat to capitalism:

  • Disrupting sup­ply and demand further
  • Eliminating wealth cre­ation distribution
  • Dissolving value of human labour
  • Outsourcing man­age­ment to smart contracts

While cap­it­al­ism has proven to be a resi­li­ent (and facil­it­at­ing) sys­tem through­out the indus­tri­al revolu­tion, there’s noth­ing to sug­gest that cap­it­al­ism can­not sur­vive the AI revolu­tion through adaptation.

The main ques­tion is wheth­er or not we should find ways to make cap­it­al­ism work as we face these chal­lenges — or should we seek an altern­ate eco­nom­ic sys­tem for the future of humanity?

Signature - Jerry Silfwer - Doctor Spin

Thanks for read­ing. Please con­sider shar­ing my pub­lic rela­tions blog with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion and mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sion­als. If you have ques­tions (or want to retain my PR ser­vices), please con­tact me at jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: How AI Will Impact PR

Artificial Intelligence and Public Relations - The Future Office - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
Every path is going to lead you some­where. (Photo: @jerrysilfwer)

The AI Revolution: Transforming Public Relations

There are sev­er­al ways in which arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) is likely to impact the pub­lic rela­tions (PR) industry. Some poten­tial examples include:

  • More high-level tasks, less low-level. The use of AI-powered tools to auto­mate tasks such as media mon­it­or­ing, con­tent cre­ation, and social media man­age­ment. This could free up PR pro­fes­sion­als to focus on their work’s more stra­tegic and cre­at­ive aspects.
  • Improved ana­lys­is and bet­ter strategies. The devel­op­ment of AI-powered sys­tems that can ana­lyse large amounts of data to identi­fy trends and insights that can inform PR strategy and decision-making.
  • Using PR pro­fes­sion­als as AI train­ers. Using AI-powered chat­bots and vir­tu­al assist­ants to handle cus­tom­er inquir­ies and provide inform­a­tion to the pub­lic allows PR pro­fes­sion­als to scale PR training.
  • Better pub­li­city through inter­con­nectiv­ity. The cre­ation of AI-powered plat­forms and net­works that can facil­it­ate con­nec­tions and col­lab­or­a­tions between PR pro­fes­sion­als, journ­al­ists, pub­lics, influ­en­cers, and oth­er crit­ic­al stake­hold­ers in the industry.
  • Earlier detec­tions of poten­tial PR issues. AI-powered tools can help PR pro­fes­sion­als identi­fy and mit­ig­ate poten­tial crisis situ­ations by ana­lys­ing data and provid­ing early warn­ing sig­nals of poten­tial problems.
  • Increased edit­or­i­al out­put. In organ­isa­tions where the com­mu­nic­a­tions depart­ment is driv­ing the con­tent strategy, PR pro­fes­sion­als will have plenty of tools for increas­ing both the qual­ity and the quant­ity of the out­put. 5Silfwer, J. (2023, March 20). AI & PR: Beware the Artificial Content Explosion. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​a​r​t​i​f​i​c​i​a​l​-​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​-​e​x​p​l​o​s​i​on/

Overall, the impact of AI on the PR industry is likely to be sig­ni­fic­ant, with the poten­tial to revolu­tion­ise many aspects of how PR pro­fes­sion­als work and inter­act with their audi­ences.

Read also: PR Beyond AI: A New Profession Emerging From the Rubble

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

1 Interview with Forbes: OpenAI’s Sam Altman Talks ChatGPT And How Artificial General Intelligence Can ‘Break Capitalism’
2 Opinion piece in Washington Post: AI will spell the end of capitalism
3 Medium: The Future of Capitalism in the Age of AI
4 Verdegem, P. Dismantling AI cap­it­al­ism: the com­mons as an altern­at­ive to the power con­cen­tra­tion of Big Tech. AI & Soc (2022). https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​0​7​/​s​0​0​1​4​6​-​022 – 01437‑8
5 Silfwer, J. (2023, March 20). AI & PR: Beware the Artificial Content Explosion. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​a​r​t​i​f​i​c​i​a​l​-​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​-​e​x​p​l​o​s​i​on/
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo isn't related to public relations; it's just a photo of mine. Think of it as a 'decorative diversion', a subtle reminder that there is more to life than strategic communication.

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