What happens to us when robots take away jobs?


James Joseph | January 13, 2018

It’s already happening. As billionare Mark Cuban said in an interview recently, the question has now become “not who I hire, but what I can hire”.

Most at threat are machine operators, food workers, and professional drivers. We’ve even seen it in McDonald’s, with staff being replaced by giant order screens, reducing some individual store staff by more than 50%.

But what happens when we see a large percentage shift in jobs progressing to both robots and AI? What does the world look like and how do governments pay for that colossal societal shift? It’s approaching quicker than many expect too with nearly 1 Billion jobs predicted to be replaced by robotic automation by 2030.

The first thing that the shift will allow for, is society to go after vocational jobs. Those with dreams to follow will be given the chance to. YouTubers, Musicians, creative jobs will rise exponentially, but then here comes the downside. The world gets real fair, real fast. With an exponential number of the population joining those vocations, the markets become saturated and one will have to be the best of the best to succeed.

So let’s take a fictional Uber driver for an example. Steve is an Uber driver, he also works on his Podcast in his spare time. Automation replaces Steve’s job, and try as he must, he just can’t get into the top 10% of podcasts, to generate enough revenue. So what happens next? This is why I believe we’re about to enter a world of Guaranteed Minimum Income or even Universal Basic Income.

If you’re not familiar with Guaranteed Minimum Income, it’s simply the idea of the Government paying citizens a minimum income so long as they meet certain criteria. (Citizenship, age, conditions etc). Universal Basic Income applies when there are no longer certain criteria, (eg. Just Citizenship).

Paying for this is going to be a colossal challenge for governments. Average models look at the usual model of taxing the most wealthy, but the way I see this working is taxing corporations on the amount of AI and robotics spend, dependant on the size of the company.

For example, if Amazon shifts their workforce to robotic automation up to 50%, they are taxed far more than a startup with less than 10+ employees who use robotic automation of 70%. It has to be relative to jobs lost and the size of reduction on employee spend.

With the USA projected to find 73 Million Jobs replaced by Robotic Automation by 2030, and the UK following the same trend to the tune of 12 Million, we need to stop focusing on trade agreements and start talking about Universal Basic Income as soon as possible.