Artificial Intelligence as a general-purpose technology: an historical perspective

Crafts, Nicholas (2021) Artificial Intelligence as a general-purpose technology: an historical perspective. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 37 (3). pp. 521-536. ISSN 0266-903X

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This paper looks at the impact on productivity of general-purpose technologies such as steam, electricity, and ICT. It finds they had big effects but only with a lag which was substantial in the first two cases. The experience of the First Industrial Revolution is explored and it is found that this is not a template for a general-purpose technology having a major adverse effect on workers’ living standards. The essence of that industrial revolution was not rapid productivity growth in the short run, but the ‘invention of a new method of invention’ which increased technological progress in the long run. Since artificial intelligence is potentially a general-purpose technology that raises the productivity of research and development, it may be the basis for a Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: artificial intelligence, general purpose technology, industrial revolution, method of invention, total factor productivity growth
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Economics
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2021 09:20
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2021 12:30

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