Why individuals must be paid to have AI do the job for them

The idea of ​​a universal minimum / basic income (UBI) is not new or nearly as radical as those who are for and against. Dozens of cities around the world are currently running or have run UBI testing programs. And the results are usually positive.

Put simply, the results for people who receive a UBI are usually proven to be better than people in similar financial and economic situations who do not.

However, a significant number of people, from laypeople to economist, believe that paying people for what they consider “not working” is a bad idea.

The solution, of course, is artificial intelligence. What if we ditched the idea of ​​a UBI and instead allowed the AI ​​to do all the work while we just cash the paychecks?

What? This is not a new or radical idea either. The automation of the workplace is already taking place in most areas of employment. Whether automation puts you at risk of becoming a cyborg by adding machine learning solutions to your normal work routine, or just saving 30 seconds per email by clicking on Google’s automated reply suggestions Do your job Even if you don’t, the writing is on the wall.

In the near future, it will be more common for general industry to look for automated solutions first before creating employment opportunities for people.

Background: The conversation about UBI used to focus solely on caring for the most vulnerable populations. Especially after COVID-19, where unemployment and homelessness are devastating economic areas that have previously been stable.

But we will not know the full extent of the effects of the pandemic until it is completely over. Whether this happens in a few months or we have years ahead of us, the end result will almost certainly bring about a massive global shift in industry and commerce.

Some of these jobs, put on hold after the world closed, will completely go away, others may change in ways we cannot predict.

A few years ago, most of us couldn’t imagine that such a large section of the workforce would work from home. Now we’ve given thousands of companies the chance to think about what a people-free workplace could be like. It is not uncommon to envision a paradigm shift towards unemployed companies that maximize their profits by limiting overhead and reducing human-related costs.


The current paradigm is simple: you work, you make money, you pay taxes, those taxes are distributed to do things for everyone … including people who don’t work or pay taxes. Some people think that this is okay because of the higher good, others feel like them shouldn’t have to work so that others don’t have to.

It might be easier to just ditch the idea of ​​a UBI and give it all to us instead AI employment avatars so we don’t have to work but still collect a regular paycheck. After all, that’s exactly what rich people do, but instead of creating an AI to do something useful, they just accumulate wealth instead.

The average interest on a million dollars in a roundabout bank account is typically $ 30,000 per year. The US government sets the minimum wage at much less. So, according to Uncle Sam, you should be able to live on less than the interest of a seven-figure trust fund.

However, our government, society and capitalist culture all seem to agree that it is wrong to be paid for doing nothing unless you are rich. And that’s probably a good thing. Because the government really needs this money to accumulate in banks so that they and the banks can borrow it without asking (that’s how the interest gets there).

The indisputable fact, however, is that someone who earns the minimum wage and contributes directly to the workforce earns less than someone who redeems a million dollar trust fund and just doesn’t feel like working.

An apolitical view of this would be that if it is okay for us to let our accumulated wealth generate income for us, it should be generally acceptable for us to design AI systems that do our jobs for us.

Unfortunately, we all know this is not the case. In 2016, a Redditor (who has since deleted his post and account, so we won’t name him here) posted his account allegedly being fired from a technical job after six years without actually doing anything. The smart (or lazy, depending on your point of view) employee developed a program to automate their coding tasks and worked all day at work for six years until caught.

In the real world: This example could confirm everyone’s fears that if we just give people money and take away the will to work, grow and thrive, society will collapse. However, we are only guessing that anyone who automates their work wants a permanent vacation.

The fear that someone who doesn’t deserve it will get something for free that we’ve worked so hard for is often a powerful motivator against altruistic ideas like UBI.

But there is no such thing as a system that only cares for those who need it while remaining impervious to human corruption or laziness.

The reality is that we know no doubt that a UBI could save lives. There are people who don’t eat today who would otherwise if they had money.

But a guaranteed income from a government run by politicians owned by corporate lobbyists, as is the case in the US and other capitalist regimes, may not be the best way to help We The People whether or not you are UBI support or not.

Instead, let’s take the aforementioned Redditor that automated its job as an example. What if we didn’t punish this person by firing them, but instead used them as a prototype for an “automation occupation avatar”?

How it would work: Let’s stick with the US, for example, as it is a country that is immersed in the kind of partisanship that prevents UBI from being seriously discussed. Based on what Conservatives and Liberals have said about UBI, we all agree that U.S. citizens who are not imprisoned or otherwise excluded from full civil rights should have the right to work.

Instead of giving citizens a UBI, the government could give people the explicit right to employment. With the right to employment, we could give huge tax breaks to companies that employ people. And just get rid of tax breaks for those who don’t.

Companies that automate existing human positions or are automated beyond a certain threshold are not eligible for tax breaks unless they have paid people salaries for “automation avatars” to offset workers’ evictions.

In this way, companies like Amazon that manage not to pay taxes would still have to make a contribution to society, just as a mom and pop pizza restaurant does when it is forced to pay its full share .

If this pizzeria wants to fire its chef in favor of a robotic oven, it has to pay that person a steady salary if they want to participate in the US tax credit system. For new businesses, say, an automated pizza kitchen opens up on the same block as our human-run mom and pop shop. It also has to pay human salaries if its owners want tax breaks, even if they don’t employ real people.

And if the same is true of Amazon, we could probably solve poverty in the US faster than you can say “two day shipping”.

It’s not a perfect plan, but neither is UBI. And the status quo is as anti-human as it gets. There are at least 18.6 million people in the US who could live above the poverty line just because of their annual interest on their bank accounts, but more than 40 million people in the US are currently living in poverty.

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Published on March 10, 2021 – 19:28 UTC

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