I'm working on an article on the missmeasurement of wealth, and my favourite Bible verse just came to mind, maybe for the first time in a decade.
I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. Ecclesiastes 9:11Two things come to mind with respect to contemporary discussions on inequality and its political impact.
- The information age promises to shift the but not eliminate some of the determinants of wage differential. It may matter less that you couldn't get into the best university, even though you were qualified, just because more qualified people applied than can attend, because AI and ICT more generally give you other means to network and access learning materials. But it may therefore matter more what your innate talents are, and what skills you have spent time honing.
- Heredity is not actually a terrible proxy for who is likely to have the best preparation to take good advantage of opportunities to lead or to build. Someone from a family that has been successful is likely to have inherited not only biological propensities and wealth but information and social networks. But just like AI has made it easier for advertisers to find exactly the right eyes for what they are selling, AI should also make it easier to find exactly the right person to govern or otherwise coordinate investment.
One reason advantaged people might invest in highly risky strategies like open intervention in elections, dismantling of government institutions, or other more classic forms of warfare might be that they are under as much pressure as journalism is right now to retain the money that once came to them back when chance mattered more. Not that time and chance will ever stop mattering, but the extent to which they matter will continue to shift.