Between Austin and Huntsville, which Texas town attracts more investment? There’s really no mystery to this question, but it might surprise some readers that job destruction is not as evident in Huntsville, the poorest city in Texas.
The simple truth is that wealth is greatest where jobs are being destroyed the fastest. Think about it. What is investment but the commitment of capital to individuals and businesses who aim to develop advances that facilitate the production of more and more goods and services with less and less human effort. Technology by its very name is job destruction. Austin is a magnet for capital precisely because it’s populated by those feverishly trying to invent a different future that will logically be defined by work that will little resemble the toil of the present.
It’s something to keep in mind as the nailbiters paint a dire picture of what’s ahead as thought is multiplied by ChatGPT, and other amazing advances like it. Count even Sam Altman as one of those who is fearful. He asserts that if artificial intelligence fulfills its potential, “There will be an impact on jobs. And I think it will require partnership between the industry and government, but mostly action by government.” About action by government, Altman needn’t be fearful. Politicians exist to “do something,” and “do something” they will. We won't be better off for it.
Lest readers forget, jobs don’t just magically appear as much as they’re a logical consequence of investment. Put more bluntly, there are no companies and no jobs without investment. Which hopefully explains why workers require no “shield” from AI. If anything, it’s those whose work is least exposed to AI whom we should worry about the most. See Austin vs. Huntsville if you’re confused.
From there, just try to think reasonably. If AI is set to lay waste to all sorts of jobs (300 million according to an estimate cited in the New York Times), the companies and industries set to experience this rapid change the most will vacuum up investment. The latter isn’t an insight as much as it’s a statement of the obvious. Businesses and industries producing much more with much less are major recipients of capital. Basic stuff.
Applied to Austin, it’s no outre speculation that Texas’s capital city is more exposed to the AI revolution that awaits than is Huntsville. What this means in reality is that Austin will be the beneficiary of even greater capital inflows, and the abundant job creation that the inflows imply. Once again, jobs are created fastest where they’re destroyed fastest. Which similarly is no insight when it’s remembered that investors have a thing about productivity.
What’s surprising is that so many wise people would write, testify and politic as though “this time is different.” No it’s not, and it never is on the matter of jobs: where there’s productivity there’s endless opportunity, where there isn’t productivity opportunity is slight. Don’t shield those where AI is the norm, but fear mightily those where it isn’t.
The wonder yet again is that this is even questioned, or wondered about. Really, has there ever been a time in history where the locales most wedded to a more primitive economic past attracted more investment than the locales always and everywhere focused on the future? The question is rhetorical.