Whether it comes sooner or later, there will be an automated economy in which smart machines are doing so many jobs that people are left with far more leisure time and governments are left with far less tax revenue. Whether this is a problem for humanity or not depends on how bold we are today. Basic income is not a bold enough move.
I welcome the automated economy no matter when it comes. If we take prudent moves in the near future, I believe the majority of people will feel the same way. Since most people on the planet are working jobs they’d prefer not to do if they had their way, the automated economy can be a boon. But first we have to make an attitude adjustment.
Work is seen by some as life-sustaining, an engaging activity that also rewards people with income they can use to pursue leisure activities, obtain necessities, and service personal debt. A fortunate few have work that actually doesn’t feel like work. It feels like their passion, their calling, play, etc. This 80s music video perfectly captures that and the jealousy other feel about people whose lives are like that.
It may be that people sometimes confuse these two, thinking any kind of work that is socially constructive (produces something society values) is life-sustaining and engaging. That’s a problem. Most people are working mostly for the money, not for the enjoyment they get from the activity.
People love to do things they find engaging and worthy. Rarely do such people consider this activity work, and they exert a lot of their best energy pursuing such activities. I’m referring to hobbies, pasttimes, vocations, and passions such as child-rearing, home remodeling, and creating art. Time spent in these activities is far more engaged and creative, and higher-quality than time people sometimes put in at “work”. Imagine what life might be like if we all were doing things we loved, instead of things we believed we had to do to earn a living. Why can’t we pay people for things they love to do instead of things they feel they need to?
That’s the opportunity I see with the automation economy. Automation will not eliminate work born of human passion and enthusiasm, a desire for self-development or expression; of connecting with others; of sharing creativity; of exploration and finding joy and fulfillment. Sure, we’ve invented computers that can create art, but human-expressed art in all forms is not likely to go away until robots actually become human. Even then, human art and proto-human art will still have their places.
Art in human terms can be all kinds of things, not just painting, sculpture, music, or performance. It can be creating solutions to human or ecological problems, it can be exploring space, creating new, satisfying, and creative ways to house more people on the planet. It can be finding solutions to ecosystem restoration and preservation. Art has many forms the definition of which is often up to the creator. As an artist myself, I know this.
As mentioned before, there are some things we can do in the near future to prepare for the automation economy, which I believe will be a huge blessing for humanity. We have to skip past basic incomes, though, which don’t go far enough. Instead of giving people money to spend on their basic necessities, let’s just give the necessities to everyone without them having to pay for them.
We can offer to every human being on the planet all the food needed to survive. I’m not talking about caviar, foie gras, and Kobe beef, but basic, healthful food produced sustainably and distributed widely. Food clearly categorized as a luxury, people would still have to buy. Even with those foods excluded there’s still plenty food on the planet to eliminate hunger and feed those who are doing work that may someday produce fantastic outcomes.
We can also offer housing to everyone without them having to pay for it. Again, I’m not talking about mansions, luxury condos, or those cute tiny houses, and definitely not subsidised government slums, but basic housing that serves to shelter a person while providing a modicum of dignity, safety, and comfort. We’re at the point now where we can provide everyone with basic housing that is lovely, well-appointed, functional, and durable, at no cost to them. If people want a custom home, they can still pay for those, but there’s no reason why humanity should tolerate any homelessness, nor constrain an innovator because she has to earn a living to pay a mortgage or rent.
We can offer basic functional clothing to everyone, thereby eliminating the need to spend our money on clothes. If you want that Armani suit, you’ll still have to buy that. But it is an easy matter today to give everyone all the basic clothing they need to be protected from the elements and work hazards.
There’s no reason today why anyone should have to pay for any of the education they receive. We have the ability today to provide everyone with all the education they desire, sparking a revolution in human capacity through the one thing everyone recognizes is key to success—a great education. Basic income will not provide that.
Then there’s medical care. No human being on this planet can survive, let alone thrive, without medical care and there’s no reason anymore to continue charging people for this basic need. As with all the other four components above, we can today provide all the medical care people need while not charging them a dime. No, that doesn’t mean creating the socialized care right-wingers fear, which is supported through super-high taxes and comes with long lines and poor service. It means care that is fantastic, accessible, proactive, and inexpensive.
We are capable of doing all of this today. There is no need to wait for the automated economy to force us into some kind of catastrophic shift. All we need to do as a civilization is to begin acting like the advanced civilization we are. I firmly believe this. That is why I founded and am creating exactly what I describe in this piece through Copiosis. With 80 or so volunteers and the 200-plus people around the world watching our progress, we are creating a reality in which all I’m describing here is a reality. We’re at the beginning stages now, and the work is promising. We are making progress.
Basic income is a nice idea that may lead to better things. But if our civilization really wants to welcome the automated economy while avoiding the disruption scenarios people fear, we can do far better than giving a little bit of money to people. Instead, let’s give them everything.
Of course, this can’t be done in our current economic system, which relies on debt-financed monetary systems to keep them humming along. Copiosis offers a way to provide more than our current system does, while eliminating most of our current troubles. Copiosis offers a road map to and through a full-blown automation economy. It leaves humanity freed up and empowered for the destiny they were born to—lives of freedom, joy, and prosperity.
I encourage you to find out more about Copiosis at Copiosis.com.