Artificial intelligence (AI) will make universal basic income (UBI) necessary.
We won’t have a choice but convert to UBI in response to a surge of technological abundance—cheap materialism—unless we like the idea of collapsing, not unlike the Roman Empire, under the future’s massive, inevitable, and curiously clown-shaped foot. I know that sounds like an exaggerated metaphor…
But it’s simply a metaphor.
Any ribbons I wrap on this discussion is meant to make you pay attention, not to warp the truth. I believe this issue is vital to the survival of America or any other country.
So I’d like to invite you on a 1000-word, 4-video journey on why I think AI and UBI not only should, but must define the future.
My goal here isn’t to convert you to my belief system—question anyone who is making conversion their #1 agenda—but I would like you to be aware of where my belief system stems; then with that awareness, that knowledge, I hope you’ll feel incited to action; I hope you’ll feel a primal urge to bloom what you’ve learned into your own conclusions.
If you’re feelin’ it, you can even share your reactions in the comments; that would make me happy, regardless of the stance you decide to take. In my mind, we aren’t standing on opposite sides of a fence; we’re in a yard together, trying to figure out what to do with the grass. Even the immature kid ripping grass up in the corner is invited to this discussion.
A. AI is Here
The first step towards understanding the importance of UBI is to accept the inevitability of AI in the workplace—as well as other important societal spaces outside of our careers (unless those spaces are our careers, in which case, there’s an overlap), such as…
It is about intelligently combining this technology.
AI isn’t on the horizon. AI has arrived. China became the largest robo-market in 2013, and they continue to project escalations clear into 2020. Keeping AI out of workplaces is no longer an option; any policies that keep AI out of the workforce, and away from societal flow, is a policy that’s simultaneously choosing to rip a country out of the global heartbeat.
The top technologies are still in the US and Canada, but I think China is coming up strong because of the large market and a large base of AI-knowledgeable people.
This isn’t a national world. It’s a global one, ramping towards interstellar.
B. Blue-Collar, Assistant-Based Careers
If your career involves a creative skill, you’re last on the chopping block. This is because, while we have AI that can paint, write, and engage in other expressive tasks, humans will always want things made by humans. In this sense, AI and UBI can usher in a new enlightenment age, and we all should be excited about this prospect, given the rapid advancements humanity made the last time we embraced an expressive, creative culture. We’ll burst into an era of thought, which may well help us transcend our current issues with materialism.
However, if your career involves routine tasks—or if you’re an assistant to a professional, such as a paralegal, dental assistant, or classroom aide—AI already exists to put you out of a job. AI is being designed to enhance human performance, and will thus directly impact humans designed to enhance human performance.
AI is also being designed to replace blue-collar labor because we have the algorithms needed for dexterity, repetition, factory production… And as we know, AI can work the factory floor with less error and 24/7 work schedules.
Because of the existence of (A),
& the inevitability of (B)…
C. Therefore, UBI is Required
Before we reach superintelligent AI—which will fundamentally impact government—we’ll move through an eye-blink of a world where the bottom man is phased out. Unlike the Industrial Revolution, menial work will not be replaced with a different, newer form of menial work; rather, the creation of AI-powered assistants will render non-innovative tasks obsolete.
Factory workers, assistants, and part-time labor will collapse, then become replaced by more specialized work.
Humans won’t need other humans to realize their dreams, because they’ll have robots helping them do that.
So either everyone’s dream will have the potential to surface (imagine that enlightenment!—how exciting!), or the people at the bottom—those that have been holding up the dreams of others—will be forgotten, in a very literal sense.
Materialism will become cheaper, which should drop the cost of living, but those that have the hardest time “making a living” to begin with—the ones who can most benefit from materialism becoming cheaper—will not be able to enjoy this abundance, because utopia rendered them unemployed; and also because we’ve built a society designed to ignore the suffering of the bottom.
Eventually, the bottom-out effect will result in civil war—which is not the behavior we want to illustrate to our young, superintelligent-burgeoning AI, who we’ve programmed to accentuate us—because human beings don’t take being forgotten all that well; or alternatively, and hopefully, the bottom-out effect will result in a desperate need to provide the minimum financial requirements our optimized, cheap materialism demands to gain access to conditions for thriving…not just scraping towards surviving.
In other words, as AI takes over menial and assistant labor, UBI will unlock opportunity for the people at the bottom; or as AI takes over menial and assistant labor, the top will refuse to share the ever-increasingly available goods AI produces, and humanity will eat itself alive.
(C) is necessary because of the existence of (A) and the inevitability of (B), so if you’re feeling uncomfortable about (C), consider whether it’s (A) or (B) that’s eating you up, then evaluate why.
A is true; B is inevitable; therefore, C.
That easy. That hard.