Will robots steal your job? replace humans? are bots the future of finance? or flipping burgers, or making pizzas? It is difficult to ignore the reality and forecasts of robots continuing to replace humans.
Will lots of new jobs arise to replace those lost?
An article at RT entitled “21st-century industrial revolution: Will robots steal your job?” (link below) quotes an accountancy firm’s prediction of job loss in low and manual skill areas of between 21 to 38 percent within 15 years in major western economies.
The RT Op-ed outlines the history of, and reasons for, job loss.
This is not a new phenomenon, however. Modern technology applied to manufacturing industries in the form of robots has caused massive job loss in the US and elsewhere. Manufacturing output has been said to increase as automation eliminated jobs.
An article in The Guardian headlines “Robots will eliminate 6% of all US jobs by 2021, report says” (link below). Not good news if you are a customer service rep, truck or taxi driver.
From self driving buses and transport trucks, cashier-less drug and retail stores, automated bank tellers, to robot fruit pickers, humans ARE being replaced.
A hamburger chain in California has developed a robot burger-cook able to cook 150 burgers an hour, but the software needs to be adjusted to allow it to do its work quicker!
Financial sector work tasks, using existing technology, could be automated 42 percent fully and 19 percent partially according to an article on McKinsey Global Institute’s website, entitled “Bots, algorithms, and the future of the finance function” (link below). It further states that in financial institutions, staff could be reduced by up to 50 percent by automation.
An article in the Guardian entitled “Alibaba founder Jack Ma: AI will cause people ‘more pain than happiness’” (link below).The billionaire said key social conflict will be the rise of artificial intelligence and longer life expectancy, which will lead to aging workforce fighting for fewer jobs” speaks for itself and is worth reading (link below).
Another article in The Guardian entitled “Will jobs exist in 2050? Sophisticated machines are fast outpacing jobs. What does this mean for the future of work? And if there are no jobs, what we will do with our time?” (link below) explores what the alternatives to work may be. More of that later.
None of the articles, mentioned above, and given in the links reassure us that new jobs will arise to replace those lost.
Light on the Horizon- Universal Basic Income
Finland is currently testing out a two-year scheme to give all citizens €560 a month, (approximately the monthly minimum wage in Portugal- 20% of Portuguese workers earn minimum wage), Hawaii, parts of the Netherlands, and Ontario are considering, or in the process of conducting small experiments, giving all citizens a basic income. This has been done previously – in Manitoba Canada amongst other locations.
It is generally thought of as a way to streamline social services support, eliminate stigmas and reduce ‘red tape’.
“Introducing a universal basic income for all citizens, to create a safety net for those whose jobs end up being done by robots, has been touted as a solution. Billionaires Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have spoken in favor of this initiative. Branson comments: “Basic income is going to be all the more important. If a lot more wealth is created by AI, the least that the country should be able to do is that a lot of that wealth that is created by AI goes back into making sure that everybody has a safety net.” RT – “21st-century industrial revolution: Will robots steal your job?”(link below).
Yet it can be so much more! Futurist authors Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams suggest forcing maximum full automation wherever possible, reducing the work week to the minimum, introducing liveable Universal Basic Income, reducing work ethic and thus freeing people from the drudgery of work!
Billionaire Elon Musk, is said to be a proponent of universal basic income, and his thoughts are quoted in the RT article already mentioned.
The alternative- do nothing. Record levels of unemployment, resultant higher levels of crime, drug use (as currently being seen?), explosion in incarceration rates and militarization of police and ???
On what does society place value?- THAT will be the defining factor to whether there will be a two-tier society of mass unemployment, or a society of leisure.
Canadian author Gwynne Dyer, in an article in theLethbridge Herald: “Jobs: Moravec’s Paradox vs.AGI” (link below) gives a clear no-nonsense picture of the possible results of all of this.
Cue a return of ‘the tumbrills’?
How to Pay for UBI?
There are many suggested ways to pay for UBI. One is mentioned by Sir Richard Branson, above. A quick web search will reveal them.
What may be harder could be the elimination of the (puritan) work ethic, and our identification of our value with our trade or profession.
Sources for above:
Inventing the Future- Nick
Srnicek, Alex Williams, Verso books 2016