The AI Will Steal Our Jobs!

They say that starting a post with a bolt statement is a good idea, so here you go: Artificial Intelligence will destroy our current economic structure. How’s that?

While that statement may seem like a gross overreaction and sound a little nutty, it is quite possibly true. As we move forward, AI will take more and more of the tasks we currently do ourselves. Right now they are mostly in highly repetitive tasks, such as manufacturing. These robots have already displaced many workers, they are cheaper and more accurate. But the presence of those robots have also opened up new opportunities in research and development as well as in maintenance. Here’s the catch: displaced employees cannot afford the new education necessary to go into these fields.

In the past, new technology has largely been geared towards making human beings more efficient at their jobs. If one person makes more stuff, the price of the stuff goes down and makes it available to more people. This has been the driver of our economic growth and high standard of living. Thus far technological progress has been the facilitator of our modern world.

But we are at a moment when this status quo is changing. Artificial intelligence is becoming better than we are at tasks we once considered exclusively the domain of human beings. This means that the jobs that were more nuanced and variable, are going the way of the dodo as those get replaced as well.

For awhile there will be new jobs created by this boom, but eventually those will be taken over as well. Eventually there will be very little, of anything, that human beings need to do.

So now it is not only the ‘unskilled’ laborers who will be out of jobs, but the more technical fields as well. The only people who will be able to make money will be those selling the products that the robots make, this will soon include such diverse things as health care and art to add to the products they manufacture today.

That won’t last long, if no one is earning, no one is spending.

So, now that I have completely depressed you; let me tell you why this could actually be awesome, and what we have to do to make sure that it is.

If you think about it, if robots are doing all the work and there is plenty of everything to go around, why should anyone ever have to go without? The only way this would happen is if we stay on our current economic course. If people need to trade their labor for money to trade for goods and services.

However, if we eliminate the need to pay for those goods and services, why do we panic over the loss of income? In other words, if we make those basic necessities available to all, it won’t matter if the robots do all the work.

Here we get a choice, how do we create an equitable system?

Option 1: Necessary goods and services are provided to all, and money is used to buy luxury goods.

This option is a good middle ground, and very likely to be the solution, but as I see it being implemented, it would be in a simple reactionary way. Like refugee camps, or homeless shelters. Necessities are covered, but living conditions are appalling with no visible path out of the situation.

If we plan ahead, we could create this as a positive way to keep everyone happy and healthy. But it would still leave the wealthy with power and influence over those who just get by on the basics with little upward mobility.

Option 2: Basic universal income.

The results of this option would be very similar to the plan ahead version of option 1. People would get some support, (although that income may not cover everything they need depending on health, implementation, and local economic variation.) but would still struggle to grow. Any growth would depend on the movement of currency to people from all walks of life. This would require that anyone attempting to improve their station from subsistence would have to advertise essentially, to gain the attention of those who do have money to burn. It would just be redistribution of the wealth between the wealthy.

Option 3: Preemptively create a non-monetary based system. No money means that all basic services would be available to all add needed. And anyone willing to grow would not need to convince someone else to part with their money, but only to show that they are providing some benefit to society. Without competition, the existing barriers of the economy would break down.

Everyone could be required to work a certain amount of time in service to community or society as we grow to reach the time of robots doing all of the work. As robots take on more of the workload, the required human workload would be readjusted and distributed equally. Less work for humans would not result in lost jobs creating starvation in a land of plenty.

As a bonus to this idea, if we got rid of money, there would be a huge number of ‘jobs’ that surround the redistribution of wealth that would disappear with it. This means that the starting workload for each person would be much less work than we currently do today. These jobs would include things like cashiers, loan specialists, stock traders, bankers, accountants, investors, and sales to name a few.

Even if we only eliminated that workload and required a lot less work to keep the status quo, I suspect that we would actually make progress toward a work-free future faster. Without all that time spent on the redistribution of wealth, the free time that people would gain would go towards hobbies.

Everyone has a few things they enjoy doing in their free time, and some of those have the potential to drive us to the future. Some people enjoy listening to music or watching movies. Some people enjoy creating neat things. Some people enjoy robotics and coding in their free time. Giving people more free time, and unlimited access to education (one of the most basic services provided) would spawn a massive outpouring of growth in many areas, including STEM. There are many people caught in the day to day grind of living paycheck to paycheck who could do so much for our world if we can unchain them from the money train.

This does require a whole new way of thinking. But in a world without scarcity, we do not need to create a system of artificial scarcity, which is how money works.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Chapter 16 (WIP) – Facing the Past

That night Jessica went to work after an unsuccessful attempt at a nap. Her trainee, an energetic, enthusiastic young man named Justin was quite capable of keeping her awake. He was able to run the shift on his own, so Jessica had very little to do, except show him a few of the things that she did to make sure everybody else was on the ball. Since it had been so long since she was at work there were plenty of errors left to find, even though it had been so quiet. Jessica thought about the irony that when the manager filled in her shifts, she didn’t catch the bookkeeping errors that Jessica would find.

This was the least busy time of the year, and after the robbery some long-term guests left in a panic, repeat guests decided to find somewhere else, and unsurprisingly it had made it to the reviews online. With so few guests, that review was still at the top of the list.

Jessica found herself a little jumpy at work, especially since she was so used to being there alone. Justin was very friendly and more than willing to fill Jessica in on what had been going on in her absence. As she had suspected, the lobby had been roped off for a few days while the police took their time investigating the scene. This meant that employees were using their own tablets to run the hotel and one of the rooms had been re-labeled “Lobby” for awhile. From the decline in business, it was clear that all of this fooled no-one, but it was not clear who had leaked the actual event to the reviewer. Justin seemed to be under the impression that the reviewer was the shooter and no-one would know the difference since he had never been in the lobby at night.

“How else would he know about the safe?” he said.

Jessica remembered Kenzie opening the safe, as if it was a gift for the boy. She remembered Kenzie waving at around as if it was meaningless. Jessica closed her eyes to try and block out the images, but they just got brighter as she remembered the scuffle and the shot. Her eyes shot open and she shuttered with the sound as it echoed through her mind. She could not bring herself to tell Justin how the boy really got the money from the safe.

It did not take long before Justin realized that Jessica probably did not want to hear more about the robbery. “I’m sorry, I forgot, they said that you were there. I won’t talk about it anymore if you don’t want me to.”

“It’s alright, I’m probably overreacting. You filled in all the blanks I had been curious about. I know I will have to face it at some point anyway. If they catch the guy I may have to go to court and tell a bunch of strangers about it. But I would like to put some more time between it and me before I do. Thank you.” And nothing more was said on the subject for the rest of the night.

After work Jessica needed a jump start since the car had been sitting in the parking lot for so long. Justin did not even seem to notice that he had been up all night and gave her a hand. He even sat outside with her as she let the car run to charge up the battery. Even though she knew she should let the car charge more Jessica decided she had better get home and let Ashley know nothing crazy had happened. She wished Justin good luck and told him that if he needed help when he started his own shift to give her a call. Jessica drove home looking behind her just to make sure she wasn’t being followed. Of course she was not, but she felt it better to be safe than sorry.

When she got home Ashley was ready for work and ran out to the car to greet her.  “Hey Jess! I just wanted to see how you were doing before I left.”

“I’m fine, the battery was dead so now I have to sit here for a few before I can go to sleep.”

“I wish I could join you but I gotta run. Glad everything is okay.” Ashley gave Jessica a hug before she jumped in the waiting sedan that belonged to her co-worker.

Jessica sat reading in the car until she could not stay awake. She turned off the engine and went inside. A bowl of cereal sufficed as dinner before she crawled upstairs to bed.

She had been there just long enough to change and lay down when the phone rang. She considered letting her mother leave a message until she realized that it was not her mother.

“Hello?”

“Can I speak to Jessica McGuire please?” Said a gruff voice on the other end of the line.

“This is her.”

“Hello this is Detective Haskell. I spoke to you in the hospital.”

“Yeah, how can I help you?”

“I just wanted to let you know that we have picked up some scumbag trying to use your credit card. We would like you to come in to ID him.”

“I just got off work and I really need to sleep now, can I do that this afternoon?” Jessica asked, knowing that she would probably not be able to make it to the station in one piece.

“We can only hold him for so long, but this afternoon should be fine. We will have your co-worker come by as well.”

“Sounds good, thank you.”

Jessica found herself sitting awake, wondering if this was the guy. Was she ready to face him? The detective did not know it, but she had been called in to ID a suspect before. She knowingly identified the wrong man. She told herself that this time she would not be intimidated, no matter what. Justice would prevail. This time, she would do the right thing.

Chapter 17 – Where Do We Go From Here?

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