Elon Musk and Universal Basic Income

During the World Government Summit in Dubai, Elon Musk brought up crucial ideas on the future of humanity. According to Musk, Universal Basic Income (an economic idea that suggests everyone receives a paycheck from the government for personal spending) is among the few solutions for robotic automation. 

When automation becomes widespread, everything will change.  People are referring to it as the coming of the “post-scarcity economy.” In simple terms, in future (a future that is fast approaching), money will not be a big deal, and all economies will completely collapse. Post-scarcity is one of those things that everyone should try to understand. Traditional economies are still functional because things are hard to come by. For instance, food is limited; otherwise, it would be free. You cannot possibly charge for what is infinite like the sun, can you? 

With replicators, which are technically magical boxes that can create anything out of anything in the blink of an eye, things do not have inherent value. You cannot even influence the demand and supply of anything since the demand is not definite and the supply is limitless. In a system like that, the traditional economy is useless and powerless.

How would you even draw the demand and supply curve for such a circumstance? Humans are nowhere near replicators, obviously. And a total post-scarcity system will not be possible for a long time. However, great advancements are about to happen. The number of jobs that robots will grab from humans is significant. Take self-driving cars, for instance, that alone will render about 20% of employees unemployed. 

That is hardly the only industry that will be shaken. So many jobs can be automated easily and eventually causing millions of Americans to become jobless. It might take twenty years—or even thirty—but the truth is that no economy can withstand that.  

Plans for universal basic income suggest tax robots. This aims at replacing the revenue that will be lost from the unemployed and alternatively created from the robots. Businesses will still gain—money will keep coming in for people to continue spending. According to some conservative estimates, the robots might even pay for themselves several times over. So companies have nothing to lose. 

At the moment (and if nothing changes), this is the only productive solution. Most markets and corporations will remain intact while working with the complicated reality of robots for labor. So somehow, Musk is right. Take time and learn, know the possibilities of the future—because no matter what your job is, it is not safe.

You probably have an idea how robots will affect human workers negatively. Chief players in the tech world like Bill Gates and Elon Musk have provided their solutions; universal basic income or robot tax. But amidst the serious warnings and the utter sci-fi utopias, the human pain that will follow future job loss seems to be forgotten. 15 years or so from now, the US economy will lose 38% of its jobs to automation. This rate is alarming. And yet, many people maintain that automation should not and cannot slow down. 

However, what if the progress is decelerated a little? Just enough to match the slow fashion and slow food trends maybe? At the very least, people should rethink the ownership of autonomous trucks. Robotization would not be that bad if truck drivers owned the automatic trucks instead of having a corporation own them all.

In the meantime; robotization is a real threat and poses a danger to crucial human infrastructure. Maybe you should understand what human infrastructure is first. Infrastructure refers to fiber optic cables, roads, power plants, and electricity grids among others. Human infrastructure is a term that shows us that people are also “essential servicers.” Critical human infrastructures are the people that are most threatened by robotization—like truck drivers. If autonomous vehicles are introduced, they will barely get employed elsewhere.

Instead of trying to make robots more human-like, the primary focus should be on human workers, even if it means coming up with a cooperated approach for ownership of the autonomous trucks—at least then, most drivers will not be left jobless. Other jobs like (cashiers, movie ushers, legal assistants); maybe legislation should be developed to help all classes of workers who could be displaced by robots.  All this means one thing: the process of automation must be slowed down.

Again, autonomous trucks are very easy to hack, planning now will prevent (or slow down) a major worldwide security threat. Imagine what hackers can do with automated trucks. Some organizations have already voiced their concerns and are completely against automation. How will truck drivers feed their families? Uber has promised automation very soon, yet some drivers took loans to buy the cars for Uber. How would they pay for loans when automation comes, no one knows.

Over the past couple of years, researchers have seen the risk of robots taking away jobs from humans. Up to ten million jobs or more will disappear as robots keep advancing, especially the unskilled ones. Some experts maintain there is still nothing to worry about, holding on to the perception that technology will create more jobs and replace the old ones. This has always been the case, but the stakes are high, and white collar jobs are among the ones at risk. So far, automation has claimed five white collar jobs. 

Creating information that can captivate others, attract them to open an email, and make a purchase might sound like an ability endowed to humans only. But this is not the case, software that can carry out natural language by analyzing data using semantic algorithms are standing up to the stage.  The software can thus determine ideal subject lines for emails and are capable of taking over the once human-dominated online marketing. Another area where machines are taking the lead is the programmatic ad-buying sector. The software can check online, use vast information on potential subjects to target ads on ideal prospects, all in an instance.

The other job that is apparently on the verge of toppling is the duty of financial advisors and analysts. The biggest threat is that computing power, combined with predictive systems and big data are providing the needed analysis and predictions that investors need. This means some financial professionals might have a difficult time hanging on as machines flood the field. If there is one sector of humanity that involves heavy use of documents, then it is the world of law.

Reviewing these extensive materials was once the work of paralegals and lawyers at the lower level, but software is doing the job quite well nowadays. Besides, machines are capable of carrying out other duties involved in the legal world. This means E-discovery, law firm associates, and others in the industry are already facing stiff competition from the AI front. Gathering the information and presenting it to the audience is all in a reporter’s day. Factor in the aspect of readability on the machine and the risk of disruption becomes inevitable. Some media like Associated Press are experimenting with using software that can create reports on corporate earnings automatically. The process has advanced over time to become error-free, which means it can outperform a human worker, putting the job of a reporter in jeopardy. 

While doctors might be considered the most appropriate hands-on experts when it comes to treatment, the tables are turning on diagnosticians, Anesthesiology, and surgeons. Some machines have been FDA approved to carry out low-level anesthesia in such settings as colonoscopies. Besides, machines can carry out other tasks as well, while one doctor can work with several robots to control human elements. 

These machines are also handy in surgery and diagnosis, which means we might soon have the tools working on patients rather than doctors doing the job. It is apparent that robotics is here to stay, and although the fear of these machines taking over jobs becomes real, the reality is inevitable.

It is also crucial that you become indispensable in the workplace, which can give you an edge over the competition. Above all, critical thinking comes in handy when it comes to considering yourself successful in the labor world. Critical thinking involves building concepts skillfully and actively and analyzing them, synthesizing them as well as using them for better performance.

This skill is crucial to your success in work and an important asset that employers need. Gathering information and making reliable decisions is part of this aspect and helps select the most applicable solution to problems after sorting through numerous solution options. 

You might have the talent every employer is looking for or the skills set for the job. But if you are not adaptable to changes in the workplace, then you might be headed for a major failure. The world is ever changing, and this will keep on rolling. The best aspect you can have to succeed anywhere, whether in the workplace or beyond, is being ready and able to adapt to changes with ease.

Customer demands will keep changing, and such, you need to be able to identify the shifts in the trends and be able to foresee trends and keep in touch with what is happening around you. In essence, being ready for the future of work is more or less all about you. Remember to equip yourself with creativity and intelligent skills as well.

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