AI's Global Gig and Why Your Grandma Needs to Care

Is artificial intelligence (AI) our ticket to a booming global economy or a recipe for dystopia? Discover how AI might revolutionize trade and why sustainability is key in the face of an AI-powered future.

AI's Global Gig and Why Your Grandma Needs to Care
Self-driving cars are just one example of how artificial intelligence is transforming our world.

The future, it seems, isn't just hurtling towards us, it's rolling up in a self-driving Uber driven by a chatty AI named Steve. At least, that's the picture painted by UNAM rector Leonardo Lomelí, who recently inaugurated Economics Week at the university with a part talk cautionary tale, part enthusiastic tech pep rally.

Lomelí isn't afraid of a good paradox. He throws shade on AI with the finesse of a seasoned Shakespearean villain, warning of its potential misuse, while simultaneously praising its ability to turbocharge global productivity and streamline international trade. It's like worrying your Roomba might become sentient and overthrow the government, but also secretly hoping it'll finally master that tricky corner by the cat litter box.

Here's the gist: AI comes in two flavors – the "restricted" kind that's already making waves in translation apps and driverless cars, and the "general" kind that exists in the realm of sci-fi movies – think machines that learn on their own and outperform humans at, well, everything. Lomelí assures us we're hurtling towards the latter at breakneck speed, which is both exciting and terrifying, depending on your risk tolerance and how comfortable you are with the idea of robot overlords.

But hold on to your floppy disks, there's more! Lomelí argues that AI's impact goes far beyond just making robots our new co-workers (or maybe future overlords). On a grand, macroeconomic scale, it can boost growth and open up new trade opportunities. Think of it as the ultimate efficiency consultant, streamlining global value chains and predicting market trends with an uncanny Spock-like precision.

On a smaller scale, AI can help businesses manage complex supply chains, identify risks before they become disasters, and maybe even finally figure out how to get that darn vending machine to dispense the Snickers bar you actually want.

But here's the plot twist worthy of an M. Night Shyamalan movie: climate change isn't having a meltdown, it's throwing a full-on tantrum, and it's impacting the global economy in ways that even the most advanced AI might struggle to predict. Remember the Panama Canal? Yeah, thanks to dropping water levels, it's basically become a glorified moat. Lomelí emphasizes that sustainability needs to be a top priority for everyone – governments, businesses, even your grandma who still uses a flip phone (because seriously, grandma, it's 2024!). Climate change, he argues, is the ultimate game of global hot potato – what one country neglects affects everyone else.

So, the takeaway? We need to get serious about reducing carbon emissions, not just for the sake of saving the polar bears (although, you know, the polar bears would appreciate it), but for the sake of, well, not becoming climate refugees.

But wait, there's more! Lomelí isn't just worried about the environment, he's also concerned about the ever-widening chasm of inequality. He argues that globalization, for all its benefits, hasn't exactly been the great equalizer it was supposed to be. The gap between rich and poor is wider than ever, and access to education and technology remains stubbornly unequal.

In essence, Lomelí's talk is a call to arms. We need to embrace the AI revolution, but we also need to do it with a healthy dose of caution and a commitment to building a more sustainable and equitable future. Because let's face it, a world run by robots might be efficient, but it wouldn't be much fun without everyone on board (and hopefully, with access to decent snacks from the vending machine).