Meet Seth Benzell, Ph.D., Dr. Benzell is an Assistant Professor at the Argyros School and has been a part of the Chapman University faculty since July 2020 and whose favorite class to teach is Introduction to Business Statistics (MGSC 209). The Argyros School is excited to spotlight Dr. Benzell, who is also a Digital Fellow at both the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and the Stanford HAI Digital Economy Lab!

A Draw to the Argyros School

After completing his Ph.D. in Economics at Boston University and post-doctoral research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Benzell sought a place to continue his research and build connections with like-minded students and faculty. He says that it is “Chapman University’s world-class behavioral research laboratory, strong economics and management science groups, and utopian weather made it an easy choice for me.”

Dr. Benzell’s Interests & Studies

Since he was a child, Benzell has loved reading science fiction novels. He says that “a good sci-fi novel is about people and societies, and how they deal with technological situations very different than our own.” Alongside this, Dr. Benzell has always been someone enveloped in helping people overcome fraught social conflicts. He believes that we can find win-win solutions to many intractable social problems through cool-headed economics and technical analysis. It is these dispositions that, along with a love for learning, led Dr. Benzell to study the role of technology in society.

With this in mind, it is no surprise that Dr. Benzell has found a deep interest in the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in society. His research on AI has focused primarily on macroeconomic and labor market impacts. In one paper he predicts the growth and inequality consequences of automation if it continues at a business-as-usual pace vs. speeding up or halting. In other papers (e.g. “Robots Are Us”), he theorizes about potential negative feedback effects from automation that could actually reduce economic growth.

Additionally, Dr. Benzell has found interest in an ongoing debate on the world’s stage: how social media should be regulated and why it’s so popular, especially quantitatively. While Benzell could not go into detail, he is currently studying how Chapman students “use and get value from Instagram” and says that having this understanding can “better guide these platforms for the good of all.”

The Future of AI: Dr. Benzell’s Thoughts

Dr. Benzell says that the easiest thing to do when looking at the future of AI is to “take the present trends and project them forward.” He believes that based on his research on AI’s impact on the labor market, “the default opinion should be that the economy will keep growing, maybe a bit faster, wages will become even more polarized between top workers and the rest, and a greater share of income will go to entrepreneurs and capitalists over any workers.” On the other hand, he notes that “some say new generative AI models will actually help somewhat to reverse some of this polarization – in my coauthor Daniel Rock’s research with actual OpenAI scientists, he finds that higher paid jobs are some of the most likely to be disrupted by AI.”

He knows that many worry about the existential risks that AI introduces, and thinks they are important to talk about, however, he believes that humans are “plenty capable of being miserable to each other without AI” and sees in AI “powerful new tools for improving the human condition.”

In Dr. Benzell’s eyes, the upside to AI is that the more disruption, the greater the economic power. He says that it is this technology that “has the potential to unlock tremendous abundance, and enable so much more leisure for the perennially overworked.”

The Ph.D. Question

As someone who is skeptical of the value of a Ph.D. in a variety of fields and subjects, Dr. Benzell thinks that a Ph.D. in Economics is a great one to have. He says that “Ph.D.s in Economics have prominent roles in government, international organizations, NGOs, tech firms, consulting firms, financial firms,” and more – meaning that you are not locked into an academic career if you do not wish to have one.

Going for a Ph.D. is not for the faint of heart, however. Dr. Benzell led on that his first year was pretty tough, that the exams at the end were very difficult, and that there was a silly level of competitiveness. But since then, Dr. Benzell developed an international group of friends who have become coauthors and lifelong allies. Some of these people, such as Laurence Kotlikoff, have deeply formed the way that Dr. Benzell thinks about the importance of clear writing and theory. Side note: Dr. Benzell was a part-time campaign manager for Kotlikoff when he ran for President in 2016.


The Argyros School is lucky to have such wonderful faculty members on campus, and Dr. Seth Benzell is no exception. We hope you enjoyed getting to know more about Dr. Benzell, what drew him to Chapman, and a bit about his background. If you are interested in learning more, visit his website at, follow him on Twitter at @SBenzell, or email him at