In the wake of the economic crisis that occurred in 2008, the expected recovery hasn’t yet shown up. I think we shouldn’t be asking ourselves when a recovery will happen but rather if a recovery will happen. There are the usual suspects of peak oil and wealth inequality, but I posit a different cause: automation. As computers, sensors and actuators get cheaper and better, we’re beginning to see industries becoming increasingly automated and person free. In fact recent research done by the Gartner research firm has stated that the first human free companies will start to appear around 2020 to 2030.
What will the future of employment be? Some say that the new technology will actually create more jobs and point to the industrial revolution as an example. While menial labor was reduced by the industrial revolution, people could still get into jobs that required education. That’s not the case now. With advancements ranging from driverless cars, to software that reads for lawyers, the jobs requiring brains are now disappearing. The future increasingly looks bleak for people who are not higher ups at companies or government. The future may be one of the vast majority of people scraping by in slums. Or will it?
Believe it or not, people have been thinking about what technological employment will entail and have suggested multiple solutions. Some solutions are radical, while others are mundane. In this article I’m going to focus on a solution called guaranteed basic income. What is that, you might ask? It’s a solution to technological unemployment in which all people (in many cases over a certain age) receive money or credit for spending. There’s a conundrum with this though, where do we get the money or credit? Usually this is done via heavy taxation, which is unpopular with many people. But a new answer may have shown itself.
Cyber currencies like Bitcoin may be the way forward in this case. A civilization could set things up in which a weekly spending voucher is provided to each of its citizens. The voucher is reset every week and all people get an equal share of currency. With the need for work gone, the people in such a civilization would, instead of focusing on job security, could focus on improving their civilization.
This is my vision. Imagine a world where money is given to people to spend on the fruits of automated labor. With improvements in manufacturing and energy production, cities could be greened with buildings surrounded by foliage. No more need for factories or power plants taking up space; each building could be self sufficient. The cities could even be a place where people and animal could both thrive. Instead of life being crowded out of cities, life could be reintroduced to them with no detrimental impact to people. And with poverty eliminated, crime could be very low, if not non-existent.