“So unless we all wish to pursue insecure lives of low-skill underpaid mostly meaningless employment thanks to all the machines increasingly doing all the rest of the work (not really for us but mostly for the benefit of those who own them), we will need to break the connection between work and income by providing everyone an income floor sufficient to both meet basic needs and purchase the goods and services the machines are providing. It’s as simple as that. Without that decoupling, there will be no economy, because there will be insufficient consumer buying power to drive it.
If we look at the details of the last few decades of job creation and destruction, we’re either going to make enough new low-skill jobs in numbers sufficient to keep unemployment numbers low enough to actually run a society… or we’re not. Either way, consumer buying power is likely to steeply erode, even after we account for the effects technology has on lowering prices because the costs of basic needs like food and housing are the costs technology has had relatively little effect on this century. Meanwhile, if we can eliminate half of our jobs in just 20 years, do we really even want to create that many tens of millions of new ways to work for someone else? Why?
There appears to be no happy ending to this story that doesn’t involve universal basic income. So instead of continuing to ask if jobs are going to be automated in sufficient quantities to need basic income, let’s instead start to increasingly ask if there’s any job we can’t automate so we’re all more freed to live by it”. Scott Santens.