Is Universal Basic Income the Answer to an Automated Future?

Posted by $ Your_Name_Goes_Here 3 years, 2 months ago to Culture
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Hopefully this link works for non-LinkedIn folks.

In my opinion, we have a wonderful case study in these-here somewhat United States. Since LBJ's "great society" proclamation in the early- to mid-1960's, we have progressively (pun intended) paid people to not work, and the results have been disastrous. We have a society where life has been devalued to the point that abortion is accepted, where the old norm of getting married and having children is distorted at best, and we have people who are no longer ashamed to accept public assistance. To the latter point, people feel OWED and find public assistance a basic expectation. And it's never enough. But I digress...

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  • Posted by dwlievert 3 years, 2 months ago
    It remains my experience in life, that the worst thing one person can do to another, is to provide them with the unearned. This becomes especially obvious when a parent does so with respect to their children.

    As a psychological corollary to this, the desire for the unearned, contrary to Luke's assertion in the Bible, is the actual root of all evil. Such a desire when dealing with that portion of Nature that is "non-human," quickly leads to frustration failure, and, if continued, death.

    If someone is taught to expect the unearned from others however, they quickly develop envy, jealousy, and hatred toward those who actually earn what they obtain.

    These "unfortunate" (immoral!) souls then DEMAND that someone remedy the "injustice" they must endure for not being provided with same.

    I make no claim with how each of us determine by what standard(s) "earning," that which must first be produced by others entails. We each determine such things in a uniquely personal fashion. And, as long as each person has no control over the values that others have earned, all remains peaceful, and, excepting the behavior of criminals, we each go about our lives accordingly.

    When we institute LEGAL criminals however, the shabby culture of "something for nothing" arises and if unchecked, will destroy any and all.

    Should another giant leap in productivity be made possible by ever-advancing technology, it will become of even more importance to assure that there are as few as possible among us who believe they have a right to the unearned - however "effortless" the values of existence are subsequently able to be produced.
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  • Posted by salta 3 years, 2 months ago
    On a global scale, the extent of automation will always be limited by the amount of savings available from productive jobs to invest in the automation equipment. The "automation" itself should not be demonized, it is just another tool for making things at lower cost/effort.
    For ancient humans the stone axe made most jobs (hunting and building shelters) twice as efficient, therefore it "destroyed half the jobs". So was the axe a bad thing?
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  • Posted by Herb7734 3 years, 2 months ago
    Automation or not, the quickest way to stultify human progress is to refuse to reward a person for outstanding effort. How do you reward a robot? Give it a bigger helping of 3 in 1 oil? There are huge limits to AI. Yes, robots can process and react to information faster than humans but the lack the most important attribute. This attribute is the keystone upon wich human progress rests. It is called consciousness. Volition. Self awareness.At least that will remain true until we figure out wtf consciousness is. Until then we can't imbue our automatons with it, unless they figure it out themselves.
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  • Posted by term2 3 years, 2 months ago
    I think of automation as a potential additional worker or workers. If the cost of automation is less than the workers that it will replace- I adopt the automation. If not, then I stick with the human(s). As the price of automation decreases, or the price of human workers increases, human employment falls. Its that simple.

    Chinese workers are cheaper than american workers, so they get the jobs right now. Automation has replaced many of the remaining american workers, as automation has become cheaper.

    Increase the minimum wage to $15 and we will see a drop in unskilled employment when companies (like mine) outsources and automates to reduce costs.

    Decreasing regulations and human employment costs will increase employment here. I used to make everything we used in our medical products years ago. Today we buy 2/3 of the items from china. There is no way we would be in business at all if we made or sourced everything in the USA.
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    • Posted by jsw225 3 years, 2 months ago
      One quick correction: Chinese workers ARE NOT cheaper than American Workers, when you take into account quality and value. However, Chinese Production is cheaper than American Production when you DO take into account onerous regulations.
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      • Posted by term2 3 years, 2 months ago
        In my experience, chinese workers are every bit as good, and in some cases much better, then american workers when it comes to manufacturing and even electronic design- and they are drastically cheaper. Funny thing is that a lot of distributors of manufactured items get them from china, mark up the price substantially, and resell them to americans. I can expect to save about 2/3 on the cost of an american product by buying it from china.

        Chinese products have improved greatly in the last few years. Iphones are made there for example, and I have yet to receive one that failed. The reputation of chinese stuff hasnt improved as much as their quality has (in general).

        American workers have outpriced themselves compared with chinese workers, AND regulatory requirements here in the US make it worse (minimum wage laws, maternity leave paid time off, etc., overtime penalties, )
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      • Posted by $ 3 years, 2 months ago
        It depends on the job you are hiring. For example, Chinese engineers are no less expensive than US engineers, and in fact Chinese engineers are more expensive when you need a senior person. Production line workers are far less expensive in PRC.
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  • Posted by $ blarman 3 years, 2 months ago
    UBI would further humanity's slide into the abyss. Humans find value out of work - and I'm talking personal satisfaction and increased ability as much as pure economic output. When humans give up work, they give up progression and value-creation.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 3 years, 2 months ago
    Automation is a tool that allows more work per person. The same was true of tools of the past. This one may be a revolution, like the agricultural or industrial revolution. But it's not the end of people doing working. People will need to do new kinds of work, consistent with the new tools. This is just like people leaving farms to work in industrial jobs in the industrial revolution.

    Automation is increasing return on investment and decreasing return on labor. This will lead to calls for various forms of socialism. Socialism will seem more reasonable to people who would reject it categorically, if it weren't for the changes associated with automation.
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  • Posted by $ WilliamShipley 3 years, 2 months ago
    As I think about the future of automation, I keep coming back to this idea. Philosophically, I don't like it, people should work to produce the goods they use. That's the way its always been. But is it the way it will always be? If enough goods and services can be generated to provide a "middle class" living for everyone on the planet with the labor of less than 5% of humans working, what do the other 95% do? Do we run automated factories to produce piles of goods while people starve in the streets?

    Now there ate those who say that automation doesn't remove jobs, it creates new ones just as fast. And certainly that has been true in the past, but automation has typically been used in the realm of repetitive specific work. Weaving, assembly etc. Automation is terrible at things that require human judgement, like cleaning a hotel room.

    But the next wave of automation will be general purpose AI. These machines won't be designed to solve specific problems, they will be designed to do what people can do. And they'll be cheaper.

    So do we require business to hire people they don't need at higher pay than a robot would require? Do we hire people to do make-work jobs such as digging holes and filling them back up again? Or filling out forms and having other people hired to file them (wait, we already do that). Or do we find some other way for people to obtain the goods the automated factories are producing.
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    • Posted by term2 3 years, 2 months ago
      Automation doesnt necessarily create more jobs than it replaces. Just wait until the machines fix themselves and actually build replacement parts. Either the cost of humans decreases to match the cost of automation, or they are out of work.
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    • Posted by DrZarkov99 3 years, 2 months ago
      Think of it this way: in the nineteenth century, 40% of the population was needed to provide food for all of us; now, fewer than 5% of the American population provide the produce we need, and are able to ship goods to overseas markets. That did not result in widespread unemployment, simply because technology made them more productive.

      AI systems will need maintenance and operational oversight by humans, for a while anyway. Other jobs will be created in ways we can't firmly predict at this time. It's unlikely that machine intelligence will be as ingenious as humans at thinking outside the box and coming up with new and different ways to solve problems and create new things, at least for a long time.
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      • Posted by $ WilliamShipley 3 years, 2 months ago
        Certainly humans have some creativity that hasn't been matched yet, but I did allow for 5% of the population to still have productive work.

        It's quite likely that only AI systems will be able to cope with the complexity of analyzing problems with other ai systems.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 years, 2 months ago
    I don't know that abortion is necessarily murder,
    provided it is done before the fetus has brain waves. "The old norm of getting married and hav-
    ing children..." I don't necessarily agree with that,either; I think marriage is good, and would want that for myself (though I no longer really
    expect it to happen), but I see nothing really
    wrong with childless couples. (Though I
    would have liked to have one or two, under
    proper circumstances). But I share the
    writer's disgust with the welfare-statist mental-
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 3 years, 2 months ago
    Automation and robotics will, like technological changes before, will create new kinds of jobs. I'll use my family as an example: my great great grandfather was a wheelright (manufacture and repair carriage wheels) like his father before him; with the growth of railroads, his son became a machinist working on trains; his son was also a railroad machinist working on steam trains; his son (my father) became an aerospace engineer influenced by the growth of the aircraft industry; I am also an aerospace engineer, emphasis on space, working on satellites and rockets before I retired; and finally, my son is a computer programmer, influenced by the increasing importance of computers. I have no doubt that future generations of my family will get involved in robotics or some other new technology, or a service industry to support the robotics people. As Heinlein said, people are adaptable; specialization is for insect.
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  • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 3 years, 2 months ago
    So I, we and the rest of us value producers and creators will be paying that basic thanks.

    Then we might have to invent new things to do.
    Hand made might be the next niche market.
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  • Posted by $ allosaur 3 years, 2 months ago
    Me dino can see how a socialist "mincome" for all will just suck any ambition out of everyone.
    Recall reading how despondent trudging along from day to day citizens of the Soviet Union made enough to drown themselves in vodka.
    Mincome minions everywhere, let's sing it~
    Volga buzzed men!
    O Volga buzzed men!
    Ay yi yi--yi!
    Volga buzzzzzzzzzz! Hic! Snore!
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    • Posted by jsw225 3 years, 2 months ago
      A Soviet commissar was traveling from farm to farm, touring Russian Agriculture in progress.

      On one farm he stopped a worker, and asked him about the crops.

      The worker said, "Comrade commissar, you would not believe the size of the crops. Carrots the size of your leg!"

      The commissar asked, "and how about the potatoes?"

      The worker replied, "Comrade commissar, if you stacked all of our potatoes together, they would reach the foot of god!"

      The commissar lectured him, "Comrade, this is the Soviet Union, there is no such thing as god."

      The worker explained, "That's OK, comrade commissar. There are no potatoes, either."
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  • Posted by rbunce 3 years, 2 months ago
    Think of UBE as protection money and much cheaper than incarceration. IF they end all government social welfare/social engineering programs at Federal/State/Local level getting rid of all those laws, regulations, bureaucrats would be worth the cost as well.
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  • Posted by $ mminnick 3 years, 2 months ago
    If you couple automation with AI then all bets are off. If the AI product is a self learner and self modifying type, then the only new jobs it will create are for other AI. Humans won't be able to compete. They can't think as fast or retain as much information (read as data) as the AI.
    The only hope for numanity would be for them to reach the Singularity (Ray Kurzweil term) and become cyborgs. Thus ends humanity.
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    • Posted by $ allosaur 3 years, 2 months ago
      Don't think your theoretical science fiction deserved a 0.
      Jules Verne came up with a submarine and a conveyance to the moon first
      Haven't seen you Squeaks attacked for a while.
      Maybe a Stinks did it this time.
      Ha1 Ha! Me dino make funny.
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  • Posted by TomSwift 3 years, 2 months ago
    I am torn by this. One one hand, giving people money is terrible. Look at the Indian Reservations in Canada, where they live in poverty and degradation, since everything is given to them and there is no incentive to strive. Natives that leave the Reservation look down at disgust at the ones who stay. One the other hand, there is a plus to a guaranteed income, which is what some countries are starting to experiment with. We have too many people and not enough high-paying jobs. When people have little, they demand more from others, which leads to Communist revolutions or deluded people voting for Trump to save them. With a guaranteed basic income, people are free to explore other avenues of life, other than struggling to put food on the table and being terrified of a medical bill. The problem is how to do this without the government completely screwing it up.

    I really don't know the answer to this but something will have to be done soon or else other countries will start abandoning rational thought and start voting in demi gods and saviors and such. That never goes well.
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