This piece originally appeared at Second Best.
This series is about the potential near-term impact of Artificial Intelligence on our government and institutions.
My null hypothesis is that the democratization of powerful AI capabilities will be at least as destabilizing as the printing press. The printing press was also a mere information technology, and yet it led to civil wars and uprisings against the established order, and ultimately drove the consolidation of the modern nation-state.
Institutions are shaped by the transaction costs associated with bargaining and coordination, search and information, and monitoring and enforcement. While the internet impacted these cost structures to an extent, near-term AI will likely alter them dramatically, dislodging us from the basic institutional structures we inherited from the early-20th century.