Contrary to much lazily-written science fiction, the development of strong AI wouldn’t automatically mean unlimited availability of intelligent “agents” to do useful things. Even in a world with strong-AI, there are costs associated with running programs. There’s direct costs, like providing electricity and cooling for the processors, as well as network bandwidth. For truly intelligent agents, there are other costs, like a police force to enforce slave labor, or (alternatively?) competitive wages. (I deal with some of these issues in Ritchie Boss: Private Investigator Manager.) So running a bunch of bots might turn out to be more expensive than many people assume.
Now, factor in the distribution of haves and have-nots in society. If the divide is too stark, there’s a certain threshold where it’s just cheaper to outsource HIT labor to 3rd world countries, eliminating much of the incentive for strong AI. Why pay a huge electricity bill (and police force, etc.) if it’s cheaper to outsource? If the nightly news is any indicator, finding balance in society is one of the more difficult problems to solve, so this is a significant question.
I’m imagining a vast galactic diaspora with all different kinds of cultures that have sprung up. Some manage to make strong-AI work in the economic sense, others don’t. Perhaps this becomes an entrance exam for admission into the union of intelligent trading partners. Then what happens when these flavors of society collide?
What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments below. -m