by Henry Oliner
The concept of a guaranteed income resurfaces, most recently in the face of recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning and the approaching horizon of an economy that can advance without the need of human input. What will these people do? How will they earn a living?
In the past, advances in technology caused seismic shifts of employment opportunities from the farm to the factory and from the factory to service jobs and information manager. While we are unable to see where the current shift will lead new profit centers certainly require far fewer worker inputs. Even older profit centers are using technology to reduce worker inputs per unit.
How will people respond when they no longer must work to provide the necessities? Many workers largely identify themselves from their jobs and their work provides their social ecosystem.
Will they be grateful? Will they use their free time to indulge the arts and advance culture or serve humanity through charity work?
Or will they take their advanced subsistence for granted and want more, voting for those who will deliver. Will envy trump gratitude?
Will the desire for social interaction lead to the creation of new networks? Will the search for meaning lead to the creation of new spiritual institutions? Should the government focus on the human and spiritual issues of a life without work as well as the mere financial issues? Or will government involvement in such personal aspects institutionalize the problems and inhibit better solutions?
Will a post economic world be as much of a blessing as we hope?