AI: Automated Income?

Group 34

Improvements in technologies, such as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), will undoubtedly put jobs at risk. As machines become more intelligent, dextrous and skilful, there will be few tasks that humans can do better than their robot counterparts.

Automation. But, what does it mean for humans?

Well, according to IPPR subsequent job losses will lead to greater inequality. Certain groups of workers could be outright unemployed, and without work, where does money come from? Current society demands the possession of money to survive, thus the looming automation revolution could be disastrous.

Universal Basic Income (UBI) provides a solution to this problem. A fixed amount of income, at a level sufficient for livelihood, provided by governments to all people regardless of work status or income.

So, what are the benefits?

Once humanity has intelligent algorithms that can outperform us at almost every level, where will the superfluous and redundant human workforce go? This may well be the most important economical and ethical question of our time.

This is not an entirely new question; since the industrial revolution people have feared mechanisation would cause mass unemployment. In reality, old professions became obsolete as new professions emerged. Humans could not compete against machines in terms of physical ability, but there were countless cognitive tasks that humans were always better than machines at. Hence the workforce moved from primary and secondary sectors such as agriculture and industry to tertiary sectors. Humans became bankers, engineers, and writers, and we always did a better job than the machines.

In 2019, this is no longer the case. Algorithms such as Google’s GoAlpha learnt 3000 years of human knowledge in 40 days, outsmarting the best humans, and AI can now generate ‘paintings’ that dupe the world’s best art critics. Literature, film, and music, are similarly witnessing humiliatingly intrusive algorithms that outperform our human aficionados. Where else can jobs migrate to when humans cannot compete on either a physical or cognitive level?

Caption: Pablo Picas-no – AI generated art.

Kantian ethics argues we have a duty to make accommodations for these displaced workers. A cornerstone of this school of thought is the equity postulate; to treat others as equals, with equal concern and respect.

Consider Uber, which employs 3 million drivers. When a tireless AI algorithm replaces a taxi driver who must return home to sleep every night, millions of people will see their livelihood disappear in a flash. Meanwhile in Silicon Valley, as labour costs vanish overnight, the CEO of Uber will wake up vastly more wealthy. Who wants that?

With the inevitable march of technology eating away at job opportunities and the disparity of wealth increasing, Kantian ethics states that we have a duty as a humanity to share the fruits of automated labour.  

Framing the issue with care ethics leads us to reason that we must maintain the needs of the individual. UBI would fulfil at the very least the foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of human physiological needs; enabling people to feed, cloth and house themselves. In fact, a UBI experiment in Finland which saw 2000 people receive a no-strings-attached monthly payment, found no disincentivization to work plus a significant reduction in problems relating to health and stress, suggesting UBI fulfils not only the basic needs but also the higher, psychological needs of Maslow’s triangle.  

 Looks like we’ll be implementing UBI very soon then?

Not quite..

Introducing UBI to solve the ethical issues of automation goes against the ideas of utilitarianism. By guaranteeing an income for everyone, society would be giving up on the possibility of former blue-collar workers remaining employed, due to a disincentive to take up employment in white-collar roles.

The Executive Office of the President under the Obama administration produced a report concluding that instead, we should more directly address the structural unemployment issues raised by automation by fostering the skills, training, job search assistance, and other labour market institutions to make sure people can get into jobs.  

The major goals of automation are to increase productivity and reduce costs of retraining staff however, if the cost is increased unemployment and reduced innovation, then the majority will not benefit. This is reinforced by the fact that a 2016 referendum, to date the first and only vote on a UBI system, was defeated by a majority of 76.9% in Switzerland.

UBI also fails to satisfy from a care ethical viewpoint. A countrywide system would require significant funding. Any savings from increased productivity and the elimination of other state welfare schemes will likely fall short, once tax revenues are adjusted for increased levels of unemployment. In the US, it was predicted that UBI would cost somewhere between $2-4 trillion per year, equating to a 50% increase in federal expenditure.

How would society be affected if funding was sourced through increased taxation? Increased unemployment coupled with higher taxation would place an increased burden upon the employed to support society and its services. A rift could form between those that remain in jobs and those ‘free riding’ on the UBI. Even if not funded directly by increased taxation, this could compromise existing financially stretched government priorities such as infrastructure and health services.

Individuals may also feel a duty to work, and receive a salary reflective of their efforts, in order to provide for themselves as well as contribute to GDP. Disconnecting the link between work done and money earned may damage this dutifulness.

Implementing UBI would be such a large, sudden economic change that it is hard to predict exactly how it would affect society. The government has a duty to keep the economy safe, especially during times of such uncertainty. Would it be responsible from a duty ethics perspective to introduce policies that would cause such seismic shifts in how society functions?

Initial Decision

It is inevitable that automation will largely replace human jobs in the future. However, providing a Universal Basic Income is too much of an uncertainty to be viable. Instead, it is important for all stakeholders-governments, policymakers, regulators, businesses, academia and the people- to collaborate and create a meaningful partnership between technology and people.

67 thoughts on “AI: Automated Income?

  1. Fascinating topic.

    You say “UBI also fails to satisfy from a care ethical viewpoint” but I’m not sure I understand how UBI fails in this regard. Could you explain please?

    From your article, it’s clear that is consideration give to the ethical theories but can you bring them further forward please?

    1. Hi Patrick

      Thanks for your comment, where we were coming from with suggesting this could have a negative effect on care ethics was in the case that such a drastic move as implementing UBI could have detrimental effects on the economy. If this were to be the case, then the government’s relationship with the public could be strained – particularly the relationship with those who are not in such great need for UBI (like white collar jobs). If the economy took such a hit, this would negatively affect the government’s relationship with a lot of the population.

      So yes I agree with you that at first glance in terms of care ethics UBI would be beneficial. However as the economical effect of UBI would be hard to predict, in the hypothetical scenario that economical damage occurred, overall UBI could have a negative effect.

  2. Jon Snow rides a dragon in the recent Game if Thrones episode before Samwell tells him he’s really Aegon Targaryen. Lord Umber is then found at Last Hearth dead via White Walkers with limbs around him making a spiral shape.

  3. Really interesting topic and very well written article.

    Coming from the media production industry myself, it’s both fascinating and daunting seeing how advanced technology is becoming and what it could mean for my potential, or lack thereof, to progress in the industry.

    In theory, UBI seems the most logical solution to such a pressing issue. From my understanding, this would essentially create a communist society, which has been and probably always will be a polarising topic. So although I believe UBI would be what’s best for society, in a time where we are more divided as people than ever, I do think it’s simply not viable in the world we live in today.

    1. Hi Dominic, thanks for leaving a comment!

      We’re interested to hear of any examples of automation you can provide from the media production industry. Do you think it will alter your role into looking after the operation of automated systems?

  4. Dead interesting topic! Throughout history jobs and industries emerge and are then replaced by more efficient means, it’s societal evolution. Look at the Luddites who destroyed textile machinery because they were afraid of the impending Industrial Revolution – without which we wouldn’t have the phones, laptops or tablets were all reading and commenting on now. One thing that doesn’t change is the basic human need to eat, keep warm and sheltered etc. basically the stuff that UBI would provide.

    This is where I’d disagree with DominicCT comment above regarding communism. Ensuring a basic standard wage wouldn’t go as far as to remove competition or the potential to choose a job path and make more money it would just work towards eradicating poverty whilst retaining individuality.

    What I’d be interested to find out a bit more about would be what would the possibility’s of AI being used to improve standard of happiness and life amongst workers by cutting hours, stress levels, responsibility rather than having a complete replacement of human workers with AI?

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      Couldn’t agree more with everything you said! I think your last comment is very interesting, AI and automation in industry are very focused on being used to make more money, reduce costs etc rather than improve conditions (although sometimes it will inadvertently do this). It seems that humans put pressure on one another to continue working at the same heavy levels, and the addition of automation/AI simply makes this same hard work more efficient!

  5. Taking AI to its logical conclusion would see a handful of colossal tech firms pumping vast capital into AI development and replacing the majority of ‘ordinary’ jobs. It’s been argued by Martin Ford that this could ultimately lead to a ‘techno-feudal’ society, with the owners of AI capital living in gated communities, relying on robots for their protection and sustenance, whilst those without investments in AI capital struggle to live as the cost of automated lifestyle is beyond their reach (considering they no longer have an income). This is a terrifying thought and a reason why this is such an important issue to plan for.

    I like how this article cites the industrial revolution as an example of where this has happened before. We don’t want to become the luddites of the 21st century and try to hold back the tide of progress – this would be as undesirable as it is impractical.

    Not sure I get the explanation of why it contradicts utilitarian theory. As long as white collar jobs pay higher wage than the UBI rate, there will be an incentive to work to afford luxuries inaccessible to those whose only income is UBI. This will be especially true since wealth is often seen in relative terms, so people would naturally strive to earn as much as their peers. The market rate for white collar jobs will be set by supply and demand, and should therefore reflect the utility foregone in missing out on leisure time by working.

    Unsure why a referendum rejecting UBI reinforces the point that automation won’t benefit the majority.

    I guess this mainly leaves the problems around funding such a scheme. My (possibly utopian) solution for this would be a change in the law such that when a person is made redundant, as part of their severance package they receive shares in the technology which replaces them. The dividends from such shares, call them “tech-dividends”, can act in a similar way to a private pension. The state should also be entitled to shares in such technology, since without the educated, healthy and safe society provided by the state, tech firms would be unable to develop the tech from which they profit. The dividends from these shares could then be paid out to the unemployed public as a state “tech-dividend” to combine with the tech dividends received from the shares in their old employers.

    This should also be desirable to the tech-firms: as the population of unemployed grows, this will slow demand for the produce of AI, and profits will begin to fall. Henry Ford’s business model in the 20th century centred around the idea of workers earning enough to buy the products they produce. This same principle will still apply in the 21st century.

    1. Thanks for commenting, felixivers!

      To clarify on the point about utilitarianism, the automation of lower paid jobs appears to be polar shift in how we think about a fair society. A discussed in this article, AI is chipping away at jobs starting with those that require the lowest cognition, or that are very repetitive tasks. This will intensify the hierarchy of jobs based on intelligence, not hard work. This geniocracy has it’s upside and downsides, but it is essentially how society was governed back in Greek times. It threatens liberalism and more so humanism, which is the ethical stance that emphasises the value of human beings.

      Going back to utilitarianism, which aims to maximise the happiness of the majority of people, it is true like you say that people will naturally strive to earn what there peers do. But when automation threatens more than jobs, but also peoples standing in society, that doesn’t appear to maximise the happiness, and if so, certainly not the for the majority.

  6. This is an interesting concept that AI will ultimately take over the role of human tasks. The big negative in this theory is that, for want of a better word, a “robot” is only as good as the programmer wants it to be and so the possibility remains that the programmer could incorporate some self limiting features into the methodology and so ultimately would retain the overall control of how the system develops and the impact on the human landscape.
    Undoubtedly AI could be used to do those jobs that humans either do not or cannot do eg working with hazardous materials, in areas of low oxygen, poor light, high pressure, underground, at the sea bed etc but the fact remains that there will always be some jobs which require the human touch: care of the elderly, working with children, many physical nursing and mental health care tasks for example.
    Also there will be the need for a huge shift in trust for people to feel comfortable with a driverless Uber, a robot dentist or optician and the like.
    Under these circumstances AI could be viewed not as a complete replacement for human endeavour but a complimentary replacement and in this complimentary environment UBI would play a vital role.

    1. Hi Cathtrees, we like the points you have raised, thanks for your comment!

      We agree with your argument against AI taking over the world. Although, have you considered that some automated systems are implemented to self-learn (machine-learning), this would completely bypass the programmer and may present some problems. Only playing devil’s advocate of course, but have you considered machine learning as a part of your thoughts?

  7. A really in-depth article on a very relevant topic.

    One point that you could consider is the decision-making capabilities of AI. What do you do regarding more contentious situations, such as those within the healthcare industry? A possible solution would be that humans retain their positions in this sector, thus rendering UBI unnecessary as there would still be a surplus of jobs available. This is especially true taking into account an aging population, with increasing levels of care required.
    Alternatively, AI machines could still take over these roles. If this is the case, how do we ensure adequate accountability for decision-making? Take the example of a robotic surgeon in an operating theatre. In the case of loss of life, is it the programmer who is to be held responsible? Or someone else in the design process? Assuming that the machine learns from data and experiences, how do we ensure that it has been exposed to the appropriate level of information? Given the high stakes of these situations, it seems unlikely that the financial gain would be sufficient incentive for any individual to work implementing AI here.

    Overall I think your article is an interesting take on possible economic consequences of automation; in my opinion, the big question is whether AI will actually reduce the number of jobs available or help us to combat current social issues, such as the aforementioned aging population.

    1. Thanks for your comment, you bring up an interesting point.

      Speaking in the near future, AI certainly will not be taking over every job sector currently occupied by humans. However the number of sectors it has grown into is increasing, mainly the lower skilled sectors.

      Coming from an engineering stand-point, the importance of the task AI is doing is weighted to its success rate in that task. For example if an automated call system makes a mistake, the worst that can happen is maybe a pissed off customer – meaning the success rate of the robot does not need to be that high, even a success rate of 95% may be deemed good. However with something like an automated car-taxi service, if the AI fails this could lead to a serious crash and injury/death, in which case a 95% success rate is not acceptable.

  8. Coming from the car industry, automation has always been part of any production line. Robots paint vehicles, move heavy components and even weld parts together without the need for humans. For years, those on the production line have learned to adapt or risk losing their jobs. And when they have dependants who rely on their income, the cost of redundancy is too great.

    Humans will adapt to automation over the coming years; it’s just that some industries will take longer than others. I also agree that robots/automation may not necessarily have a part in all industries. For example, when developing prototype vehicles, the time it takes to program a robot to do something is far, far greater than simply using a human technician. Robots will take some jobs, yes, but not all.

    On that note, implementing UBI might work but not without its downfalls. Put simply, it raises the baseline income for everyone. It makes the poorest richer in terms of raw income but, relative to the richer, they are still poor. In addition, UBI can only work if it keeps up with inflation. If not, then the poorest will still struggle.

  9. A thought provoking article.

    By creating the same amount of wealth for less human input, automation offers a huge potential benefit to society. The difficult question is how can this wealth benefit be distributed in manner deemed to be fair to all parts of society.

    Owners and innovators of the automation need to be compensated and those removed from the workplace need to be supported through retraining, new job creation and financial support.

    Ultimately, it is in the interests of the owners to share some part of the wealth benefit (as pointed out by felixivers above – little wealth will be created if the population have little money/few jobs to buy the goods created by the robots). However, the current failure of governments to cooperate and collect a ‘fair’ level of tax revenue from large multi-national companies is perhaps one example of how difficult this might be to achieve in practice.

    There are problems in financing UBI and in truth it may be too general in its application. A multi-faceted approach would appear to be better:
    • providing financial support where it is most needed and affordable
    • providing better facilities for retraining and further education
    • policy aimed at creating new types of jobs that humans can do better (or that customers prefer) or jobs that are considered more socially appealing (such as healthcare and care of the elderly) or environmental jobs that better help us to tackle the huge problem of climate change.
    • Reducing the number of hours in the working week to help combat stress and improve family and leisure time.

  10. Very fascinating and thought provoking article here. The addition of AI into the workplace provides us all with an opportunity to adapt and to encounter different challenges in the workplace. We shouldn’t be in combat and fighting AI, we should co-exist, but it doesn’t mean that we should by any means surrender. Using a UBI kills ideals that have spawned greatness for generations. The rewards for risk and innovation become negated, and progress can be halted. Fundamentally human beings strive for greatness and a desire to further their own position. UBI renders the American dream obsolete and human advancement can be stagnated

    1. Fighting the development of AI technologies is not in anyone’s interest. As the article links this development to progress made during the industrial revolution. In the country we live in under the current economic climate UBI could offer a financial parachute to those made redundant due to technological advancements. It should be noted that this should not seen as ones only income but instead as an assistance for those struggling. UBI would not “stagnate human advancement” as you have stated, it would instead give people a chance to live there dreams and realise the common goal to improve the world we live in.

      1. But how is a blue collar worker, having been displaced by automation, expected to retrain for a new job:
        1. To a higher level than their previous job, since all the simplistic jobs will have been already been automated.
        2. Fast enough to beat the pace of technology, and if so, for how long are they safe in their new job?

        Surely for some, AI and automation are threatening any hope of a fulfilling working career? If someone then offers them an easy way out, of say, £500 a month, who in their right mind would keep shooting for a new job whilst AI keeps moving the goal posts?

        1. Great points, Danny! The issues you have raised are important, therefore the correct creation of jobs or the gradual shift of society towards different types of work is essential. Further to this, some people value having work and making an impact in the world so this could definitely provide some friction.

          1. I think we need more understanding of how UBI would impact the rest of society. I agree it definitely seems unfair at first glance. Have you considered how it might open the system up to abuse?

  11. A very interesting and well-written article.
    I agree that the idea of UBI with the upcoming age of automation may sound promising, however I think it would be too much of a threat to society. With less people working and more people not having a day-to-day job, it’s going to massively affect people’s everyday lives and frame of mind/mental health. For the majority of people, a job takes up a huge part of your life, and its hard to imagine life without one.
    Another point to consider that the article mentioned was where the money is going to come from to feed people. It seems logical that since its the companies benefiting from the increased level of automation, that they should be helping governments in funding the UBI programme through taxes etc, but how to do this is an area that would need an amount of discussion.
    I would like to think that AI and humans can work together in the workplace, seeing as each has its strengths and weaknesses, before anything as drastic as UBI has to happen.

    1. Thanks for your comments, mswan.

      We understand your point about people working less and therefore being impacted mentally. What do you think about the current demands placed on employees? Do you think it’s possible that work already contributes to a huge amount of mental health issues anyway?

  12. Really interesting and well written article!

    You write that UBI has been estimated to cost $2-4tn in the USA, making it too expensive to be viable. But have you considered how much poverty costs the USA in the form of loss of economic productivity, increased health and crime costs, and increased burden on the state services? One study estimated this to cost the USA over $4tn each year, not to mention the human cost of poverty on child development.

    Is it just a question of priorities rather than economic viability?

    1. Thanks for the comment!

      You make a very good point, we had not considered this as our attention was focused on those losing jobs due to machines rather than the overall population. However I do like your counter-argument to this point, and if growing automation revitalizes the debate for UBI which in turn positively contributes the factors you mentioned then the case for UBI is all the more stronger!

    2. Wow! Great response – thanks, Jack!

      We’re happy to see back up your point with data. Considering the costs for the USA look to match up if estimates are correct ($4tn to $4tn), what are your thoughts on implementing UBI? Surely a sudden introduction would be too great a risk

    1. Hi pat1, thanks for your comment and the fascinating propaganda video.

      Whilst we agree with your notion that UBI solves other issues, we wanted to focus on a topic relevant to engineering and it would have been impossible to include everything!

  13. Really interesting article.
    I’d agree with a lot of the previous comments about UBI, and I like the idea of tech – dividends.
    Personally I think the desire to do something meaningful is too great for there to be mass unemployment, and perhaps our society would adapt to continue in a similar way.

    I like the distinction between physical and cognitive ai, and I’d be intrigued to know the actual success of cognitive in the future.

  14. Great article, very well articulated.

    I agree that AI looks to be a double-edged sword that could make our lives more comfortable whilst simultaneously stabbing us in the back. But the Huxley-esque Brave New World that this article alludes to? I just don’t see it. It has consistently been shown that people still value the handcrafted, the home-made. A human requirement is the requirement of humans. AI is undoubtedly on the rise, and that is a scary fact. But I think AI will see a backlash and a plateau to a happy medium well before we see the evil automated overlord that this article points towards.

    With that said, great article. I think we should be discussing this topic more.

    1. Hi Danny, you raise an interesting point, although I think I would have to disagree. How exactly might a human backlash against a computer AI work, once it has become so ingrained in your life that it is necessary to live and work? To what extent would you backlash once AI has crept into every corner of modern life?

      Ted

      1. I believe it is possible to keep AI at arms reach. We are already seeing widespread rejection of other technologies, smartphones for example. Many people, including myself, are trying to cut down on screen time. Even Apple have now added the ability for you to set timers to regulate how much time you spend on apps. And phones have certainly crept into all corners of our life these days.

        I think it is fully possible to give the AI the same treatment.

  15. Nice article. I do agree that automation of labour is increasingly becoming a big problem for society.

    The industrial revolution mainly displaced blue collar jobs such as manufacturing and other factory work. However, I think that AI will begin to displace jobs higher up the career hierarchy. For example, specialized and well-payed radiologists can now be outperformed by robots, with detection rate of disease by AI much higher than a skilled human radiologist. This is obviously good for preventing disease but skilled workers can now be replaced by better machines.

    I don’t think UBI is the answer, as I think people do need a purpose in day-to-day life to maintain a good mental health. Somehow the jobs that are displaced need to be replaced with something new, and I think jobs may emerge that we have not even heard of. For example there have been millions of jobs created by the invention of the computer, even though many jobs at the time were displaced. Something like this could happen in this case.

    1. Fantastic points Joe, thanks!

      We had not considered the advent of the computer and how that impacted jobs in a positive AND negative manner. This may provide evidence that difficult arises in the short-term, but issues may be solved as automation becomes more common. What are your thoughts on this?

    2. Thanks for your comments! I agree that people need purpose, and that often comes from a day to day job. Do you think it is practical to create jobs for the sake of giving people purpose, even if somewhat unnecessarily?

  16. A valid argument here. I agree it is an important topic which deserves more attention.

    As somewhat of a senior myself, I do believe that in a society like ours developing at a light speed pace now there is every merit in being mindful of where we’re heading as a people. We have a responsibility to create a world that our children and grandchildren can thrive in. However, I think this article falls victim to the same pitfall that every generation kids themselves into thinking – that they’re on the brink of doom and the world is about to collapse.

    In my day, the Cold War was the threat, that was the thing on everyone’s lip. Now it’s all automation and AI. We are living in the most peaceful period on Earth, though it doesn’t always seem it I must admit. It may replace simplistic jobs, yes, but I’ve yet to see it be used for anything that does not instill peace and prosperity overall.

    1. Hi Ted, thanks for these comments.

      I definitely understand your point that AI and automation is a fairly zeitgeisty, of the moment topic. And whilst an important issue, certainly other generations have had to deal with far more destructive threats. However, I think it is important for this generation to discuss this topic so we can steer automation to become a productive, useful thing. If we ignore it, it may become part of everyday life and become impossible to tackle.

    1. TJ, I can’t help but feel you have missed the point of this article. This is asking the ethical question of whether this is a wholly positive or detrimental thing for our society, not how to make a quick buck.

      Ted

      1. Talk to me about survival? You youngsters wouldn’t have survived in my day when we didn’t need artificial intelligence, we used the brains God gave us.

        I respectfully recommend you do the same.

        Ted

  17. The increased possibility of a tireless unyielding automated workforce does indeed present a complex ethical challenge re: unemployment, taking into account the desirable factors involved in employing robots such as work quality and cost. However the introduction of a universal basic income does not account for the feelings of hopelessness sure to be rife in those made redundant, leading one to a conclusion that it should be a responsibility of the higher “employer” powers to treat employees with respect and as such, support them throughout the next industrial revolution.

    1. Great point here ti,

      I think we definitely need to look closer at how automation might affect the mindset of the worker, and whether patching them up will a UBI payment would resolve this issue. It is very likely that UBI is not a one solution fits all and that other options need to be explored.

  18. Hi Joe,

    Whilst I agree that different jobs will arise that we are not aware of yet, what will become of the people who have been directly displaced. These new jobs presumably require as specific skill set that the now redundant workers may not possess. New, futuristic jobs that we do not yet have sight of are okay for future generations that can train for them, however, workers that are directly replaced might not be so lucky.

  19. A great thought intriguing article here!

    I think jobs are becoming quite a scarce resource in many parts of the world but there are still other places booming. Places like Dubai, Singapore and Beijing are growing and perhaps this is not a case of regional unemployment within a nation but within the world. In other words, people should be more prepared to migrate for jobs to solve this issue (in the short term at least). This may seem easier said than done but I agree with the point you raised about a job giving an individual their duty. Perhaps we have to sacrifice a bit more to fulfil our own duty?

    Personally, I think introducing this UBI would create too much social conflict. Even if the UBI value was set perfectly to accommodate all the recently unemployed, the stress put upon the employed would be too great for that to seem fair.

    Also, there are many homeless people that receive little help from the government so why do these recently unemployed people deserve more care than them?

  20. A very relevant dilema of today’s society. Though the threat of industrialisation, even more broadly, our evolution as a species in general, has always provoked fear within society. You state that in the reality of the industrial revolution and the introduction of mechanication that ‘old professions became obsolete as new professions emerged’. What’s to say this will not be the process within our implementation of AI to our working world?

    Within the beginning of your discussion, you suggest that AI can now outperform human intelligence and creation because ‘algorithms such as Google’s GoAlpha learnt 3000 years of human knowledge in 40 days’. Though I agree that AI has become a powerful tool within today’s society, it is simply that. A tool. The automation of human application cannot take into account the depths of human experience. Great works of literature, art, and music are infamous because of our ability to connect and learn from each others experiences and emotions. And that cannot be replicated by the mass progression of technology and introduction of artificial intelligence. As society has adapted in the past, it will continue to adapt to these changes and attempting to implement UBI would be an unnecessary strain on government and economy.

    I think it is very important to have these debates as it has no doubt already had a massive impact on jobs today, though I do not believe that this is ‘the most important economical and ethical question of our time’. As there is a larger strain of things like homelessness, poverty, overpopulation and thus lack of resources, and pollution on our governments and world that poses a larger threat to society than the treat of improvements in technologies on our workforces.

    1. A really interesting and thought provoking article.

      You raise an critical issue that needs to be addressed.

      I can’t help thinking of the parallels between this emerging situation and that created by the transformation which came about with the Industrial Revolution in the 1900s with the switch away from largely agricultural work and cottage industries. This created a huge social problem but was addressed by devices such as the Welfare State, pensions etc. Maybe a direct parallel with your proposed UBI?

      Whenever happens, the human race is very adaptable and I believe a solution will be found

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