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Labor Shifting instead of Universal Basic Income

Recently I got sick. It gave me clarity of what is wrong on Universal Basic Income as a response to AI and highlighted an alternative: Labor shifting.

➤ What is universal basic income in AI context?

👉Some people envision a future in which AI will take over most/all labor.

👉Since there won’t be enough jobs to go around in this imagined future, some people won’t have sufficient income.

👉The universal basic income (UBI) solution is for the government to provide a baseline income to these people.

➤ The UBI utopia is wrong because it shifts our attention

😞Even if (huge if) human labor would become unnecessary at some point, our many burning issues will not magically disappear.

😞Surrounded by doctors and other patients, I kept thinking:

Are we out of patients in ERs?

Are we out of diseases to cure?

Have we solved climate change?

Have we uprooted discrimination?

Have we fed all the world's hungry?


😞Sure, if we go full optimist, one day AI will resolve all these problems too and all we would need to worry about is how to spend our free time.

😞But before that, whatever capabilities AI will have, it will meet an imperfect world that needs help.

😞The typical UBI conversation shifts our attention away from this fact.

😞Away from people in ERs, from diseases without cures, from people without clean water, from climate disasters. Away from the real world and the real people that desperately need attention. That is wrong.

➤ Better approach: labor shifting

🌈If we’re going to imagine a utopia, let it be a world in which labor is diverted to where it is most needed.

🌈In the face of potential mass job losses, ask: how do we retrain or divert workers to address meaningful pain points?

🌈And while we’re at it, ask: How do we build AI solutions to address these pain points?

➤ Join the discussion on my LinkedIn post!



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