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( A Sixteen minute read)

How much stuff do we really need to lead a normal life?

Not as much as you might think.

Automation, digital platforms, and other innovations are changing the fundamental nature of work.

You could say that: The world of work is in a state of flux.Humanoid robots work side by side with employees in the assembly line at a factory in Kazo, Japan.

There is growing polarization of labor-market opportunities between high- and low-skill jobs, unemployment and underemployment especially among young people, stagnating incomes for a large proportion of households, and income inequality.

However the field of robotics promises to be the most profoundly disruptive technological shift since the industrial revolution.

The development of automation enabled by technologies including robotics and artificial intelligence brings the promise of higher productivity (and with productivity, economic growth), increased efficiencies, safety, and convenience. But these technologies also raise difficult questions about the broader impact of automation on jobs, skills, wages, and the nature of work itself.

Somehow, we believe our livelihoods will be safe. They’re not:

Every commercial sector will be affected by robotic automation in the next several years. We have yet to reach the full potential of digitization across the global economy.

More than half the world’s population is still offline.

Greater interaction will raise productivity but require different and often higher skills, new technology interfaces, different wage models in some cases, and different types of investments by businesses and workers to acquire skills.

In a recent report, the World Economic Forum predicted that robotic automation will result in the net loss of more than 5m jobs across 15 developed nations by 2020, a conservative estimate. 40–50% of all jobs will be taken by robots in the next twenty years.

By 2025, average salaries in the robotics sector will increase by at least 60% – yet more than one-third of the available jobs in robotics will remain vacant due to shortages of skilled workers.

Developments in motion control, sensor technologies, and artificial intelligence will inevitably give rise to an entirely new class of robots aimed primarily at consumer markets. For example  “Create Your Taste” kiosk – an automated touch-screen system that allows customers to create their own burgers without interacting with another human being.

The thing is: we’ve heard this all before. Time and time again, we underestimate capitalism’s extraordinary ability to come up with new meaningless jobs. (It’s 37% in the UK right now, but it could be 50%, 60% or even 100% in the future.)

Unless we update our ideas about what ‘work’ even is. The rise in the total of those employed is governed by Parkinson’s Law, and much the same whether the volume of work, were to increase, diminish or even disappear.

Labor which was once the capital of working men will be longer true.

Again: it’s not about the technology, it’s about the choices we make as a society.

When it comes to universal basic income: we don’t have to wait for the robots. We are more than rich enough to do it right now – in fact, we should have done it forty years ago!

Technology is not destiny, education is.

Everything depends on the choices that we make as a society.

If history is any precedent, we already know the answer.


Guest Blog: Downsizing for Public Health

It’s time for taxpayers to remind themselves just how much the cost of government to run us is..

Let’s take the cost of running the UK as an example.Résultat de recherche d'images pour "pictures of house of parliament in london"

The House of Commons with 650 Mbps at £76,000 pa costing the tax payer £156 million a year.

Add in the £6.4m pa given to opposition parties (Short Money), and support items like IT, and the overall total for each MP goes up to £242,000 pa.

But that’s only part of the bill: we also need to add in the costs of running the Commons itself.  According to the HoC Administration Resource Accounts 2006-07, those costs total £210m, which is a further £325,000 per MP.

Oops I nearly forgot the gold-plated final salary pension guaranteed by taxpayers.

The official cost of MPs’ pensions is under 12 per cent of their salary, after 11 per cent contributions from MPs themselves. This adds up to total pay and pension for an MP of £85,000 (their £76,000 salary and £9,000 pension).

So with 650 MPs, that means each one costs us £85,000 pa in salary, pension contributions and employment taxes. Those troublesome “staffing allowances” cost us an additional £57.9m pa- £90,000 for each MP. Then there’s incidental expenses, additional cost allowances, and travel expenses, totaling a further £30.7m (£48,000 each).

Then you have 814 unelected Peers in the House of Lords at £83,000 pa. Costing the tax payer £67,932,000 a year plus £462,510 in tax-free expenses. Members can claim £300 or £150 for every day they attend the House and undertake parliamentary work. The dining rooms and bars are all subsidised by the taxpayer.

Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill, who has claimed £220,000 of expenses over her 27 year career on the red benches, has never spoken in a debate.

The total cost of members’ allowances and travel is around £20 million per annum.

So reducing the size of the House by about 250 members would represent a significant saving to the taxpayer.

Then you have the Civil Service 418,343, (316,792 full-time and 101,551 part-time.)  Gross annual earnings (excluding overtime or one-off bonuses) for Civil Service employees is around £25,350, pa.

You dont have to ask why people are lying on the floors of hospital corridors.


‘What do you do when there is nothing left to do?’

What should a government faced with an unmanageable level of unemployment do when conventional policy has failed to resolve the issue?’

Perhaps then a seemingly radical solution, such as universal basic income (UBI), becomes plausible. Universal Basic Income (UBI), a form of social security paid to individuals, not households. It is paid to everyone.

It would give individuals the freedom to say ‘yes’ to jobs. Individuals will not have to do that which they do not wish to do. Fewer people will engage in menial and unsatisfying work. Employers may be forced to increase the wages for underpaid or unpaid jobs.

UBI creates a floor (minimum level) on the income distribution curve, alleviates poverty, and gives bargaining power to the ones who have it least.

Forgetting about work for a moment (if you can), think about what you should do when your physiological needs are no longer a concern. If you’ve had a passion at the back of your mind then you might finally pursue it. If, on the other hand, you’ve passed life going from one kind of busy to another, then you might have missed opportunities to reflect and figure out what you would like to be doing. The cost of failure may have been too high if it meant putting you or your family’s livelihood at risk.

Assuming UBI ensures a basic livelihood for everyone in a community, do these citizens have a duty to give back by working? Do individuals have a duty to accept paid, available employment?

I would say Yes: Individuals should have a duty to do something, providing it is socially beneficial. There was something about people helping each other for its own sake that makes for a good society. A society is not well-functioning if it’s members are not interested in actively improving each other’s well-being.

Caring for the those who cannot care for themselves (such as the elderly, children and disabled). One could volunteer for various causes they care about, whether they be social, environmental, tech-related or so on.

Your recognition that you have alleviated the suffering of others might make you feel like you have done something meaningful.

UBI provides the opportunity for you to try contributing to your community in different ways. This freedom lets you find a way to contribute that is most satisfying for yourself.

It would remove fear replacing it with dignity.

UBI would also reduce the cost of citizens relying on the state for assistance.

There are many pending environmental crises hanging over us, but human wastefulness can be avoided. Can you imagine a world of 7.6 billion people no longer struggling for food or shelter and now focused on bettering the world for their children? That’s universal basic income. That’s a legacy we can all leave.

So why is it not being done?

Because it would downsize our consumerism lifestyle and remove inequality.

There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

I can hear you saying where will the money come from?

Vat, Negative Interest rates, Earnings from investments, Decreasing militry spending, Sovereign wealth funds, etc.

It would ensure that the distribution of the fruits of technology advancement are distributed fairly. 

As Jeremy Howard said: ” In a post-scarcity world , why hold back wealth from people just because they can’t provide labor inputs just to create wealth.”

All human comments and suggestions appreciated. All like clicks chucked in the bin>