This piece originally appeared at Second Best.
In September, Ege Erdil and Tamay Besiroglu published a noteworthy paper reviewing the arguments for and against AI causing explosive growth in the not-so-distant future. It follows in the footsteps Tom Davidson’s 2021 report on explosive growth for Open Philanthropy.
I was recently asked for my take on these reports, and how likely I think explosive GDP growth from AI and automation is more generally. In short, I think both reports are useful as thought experiments but limited methodologically. I'll explain my perspective below.
But first, what do we mean by explosive growth in the first place? Both Davidson and Erdil & Besiroglu define explosive growth as an order of magnitude increase over historic rates, or a 30% annual growth rate in global GDP. This means the world economy would double every 2-3 years — a staggering and unprecedented rate of change, even for developing countries undergoing rapid catch-up growth.