Fast Company named The AI Economist as a finalist in its “World Changing Ideas” competition, which spotlights innovative projects in pursuit of positively impacting the world.

The AI Economist is a new line of research that studies how to improve economic design using AI with the goal of optimizing productivity and social equality for everyone. Since launching in April 2020, the research has been an ongoing topic of discussion and consideration with policymakers, technologists, academics, and other institutions in the field of economics and AI.


Why it matters: The AI Economist is not only one of the first, but also one of the only simulations that applies AI to economic modeling for tax policy.

This AI framework is designed to simulate millions of years of economies – in parallel – to provide insight to economists, governments and others into tax policy design that optimizes social outcomes in the real world.

In the past year, institutions across the globe have engaged the Salesforce team behind The AI Economist to learn how AI and reinforcement learning might reshape the way we think about public policy.

The Salesforce perspective: Stephan Zheng, Lead Research Scientist, Salesforce, has said of the research:

  • “Through the AI Economist, we’re bringing reinforcement learning (RL) to tax research for the first time to provide a simulation and data-driven solution to defining optimal taxes for a given socio-economic objective.”
  • “The AI Economist also achieves improvements in equality and productivity with real people earning real money in our simulation. In particular, the AI Economist achieves significantly higher inverse-income weighted social welfare, an alternative, established social objective used by economists. This objective weights the utility of lower income workers more than higher income workers.”
  • “This is a great technical challenge, and we believe this kind of research has enormous potential to achieve lasting social and scientific improvements.”

Explore further: Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas is now in its fifth year. Four thousand submissions were received in 2020- a record – including many in the AI category. The AI Economist team’s work will be featured among the top AI innovations designed to augment the way people make decisions by providing objective AI-driven analysis that improves social welfare for all.

Fast fact: The AI Economist is one of the many examples of how Salesforce is using its platform to pursue world-changing ideas. Other such projects include SharkEye and ReceptorNet.

More information:

    Are you a researcher interested in joining the team? See open positions here, or click here to read about other Salesforce Research projects.

Learn more about Salesforce’s commitment to AI ethics here.

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