alternative plans for the end of jobs

Work to earn a living! (STEEMED)
It’s been promoted as the best and most honourable way to gain capital, and has served us for millennia. Since time immemorial, people have wanted goods and services, and those goods and services have needed people to bring them into being. That meant employment opportunities and society’s organised around the employer/employee relationship. Sure most jobs are not in any way fun or interesting for the people who have to do them (which is why monday is widely held to be the worst day of the week and the weekends are almost universally adored- at least for those who don’t have to go to their jobs on saturday or sunday) but it has always been necessary for people to do jobs.
But the incentives of capitalism has never been about providing jobs for people. Rather, it has always been about increasing profit for the owners of capital by lowering marginal costs. People who complain about loss of employment and the harm being done to local communities following the closure of some business and its subsequent move overseas in order to be more competitive miss the point that the CEO is tasked with increasing shareholder value and nothing else. Of course, businesses will provide jobs for people and build communities if this helps increase profit or lower marginal costs, but if a better method of doing either that does not involve employing people should come along, you can bet the most successful businesses will adopt that method.
This is why some have been keeping a wary eye on automation. Could there be a cambrian explosion of specialised robots and narrow AI, resulting in countless ways to automate jobs and squeeze human workers to the point of making employment seeking impossibly difficult? Can robot minds become as, or more, capable than human brains, resulting in artificial labourers who work for nothing 24/7, never taking holidays, never getting sick, never organising into unions and making demands?
In short, could the way of life that has applied for thousands of years, one in which capital growth requires people to find employment in jobs, come to an end, giving way to a new era in which machines grow capital with only a few humans in the loop, or maybe none at all? More to the point, if technological unemployment does happen, what should we do about it?
Erik has an idea. Assume technological unemployment is never going to happen, or if it is going to happen, not for a long while yet. No need to plan for some far distant future possibility. Erik is not alone in questioning the belief that technological unemployment is going to occur. Many have pointed out that tech creates jobs as well as eliminating them. We can retrain and move from being office workers to 4 dimensional holobiomorphal co-formulators or whatever the hell people do in 2030 to earn a living. If it is always that case that tech creates jobs and that people’s labour will always be the most cost-effective commodity one can hire to fill the vacancies those jobs open up, then we can carry on as we always have. If.
UBI is another possibility, probably the one most often argued over on this forum. If technological unemployment is going to make it impossible for most people to get a job (‘darn it, I have applied for a thousand different jobs but that Roboworker 2000 has been installed in every single one. It’s replacing jobs faster than I can retrain!’) we have to sever the link between jobs and wages. It’s all very well lowering costs by eliminating jobs and replacing human workers with ultra-efficient and capable robots, but if those robots receive no wages and people can earn no wages, where are all the consumers with money to spend going to come from? Can an economy really work if wealth is concentrated into .1% of the population leaving everybody else with little to no disposable income? 
In this thread we are going to assume that technological unemployment IS a reality we will be facing in the future. I want to know: APART from UBI, what can we do to ensure the robot revolution benefits as many people as possible? How should we organise society so that it is best-placed to meet that future in which so few people are needed in jobs? 
Here is one idea. Money needs to be reinvented so that as technological capabilities increase and more and more jobs are automated, the value of each coin in your pocket goes up. At the moment, fiat money and fractional reserve banking is designed to redistribute money from the bottom of the pyramid to the top, without those at the top necessarily making any contributions to the real economy. This is achieved through inflation and other methods. Rather than inflation decreasing the purchasing power of the money in your pocket, the purchasing power of money in ordinary peoples pockets should be increasing, as indeed I believe it did during the 19th and early 20th century. Material wealth needs to become cheap, so cheap that anybody with half a brain to at least save something and prepare for the tech unemployment to come, can comfortably live in that fantastic future in which capitalism has reached its peak.
Any other ideas?

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5 Responses to alternative plans for the end of jobs

  1. Radivis says:

    “UBI is another possibility, probably the one most often argued over on this forum.”
    What forum do you mean exactly? I invite you to cross post your article to the Fractal Future Forum at http://forum.fractalfuture.net
    That would give you more opportunities to hear interesting opinions.

    “It’s all very well lowering costs by eliminating jobs and replacing human workers with ultra-efficient and capable robots, but if those robots receive no wages and people can earn no wages, where are all the consumers with money to spend going to come from?”
    So, what about having legislation is place that requires minimum wages for robots? That way, people could continue competing against robots. That’s probably not the brightest or most natural idea, but it’s a possibility.

    “Money needs to be reinvented so that as technological capabilities increase and more and more jobs are automated, the value of each coin in your pocket goes up.”
    Done! See Bitcoin. There you have your solution. Why look for something else, if it’s simply a stop of inflation that you are looking for?

    • I am not simply looking for a stop to inflation. It has to be born in mind that everything done in banking and finance today- inflation, interest, fractional reserve, floating currencies, fiat, debt and credit- was created for sound monetary reasons. None of these things are necessarily bad, it is just that they can be used to favour one group at the expense of everybody else. Somebody replying to my post commented that some inflation is necessary to stop people hoarding money and keep it circulating in the economy, which sounds logical to me.

      If I were to recommend a change to the monetary system, it would be that whoever controlled the money supply could not profit from the creation of money. Banks create money out of debt, and debt is their main source of profit. Rather than thinking about the right amount of money for a healthy economy, they seek to create as much debt- and therefore profit, for themselves as possible.

      I know very little about bitcoin. None of the books I have on the history of money or alternatives to current forms of money mention bitcoin at all.

      • Radivis says:

        “Somebody replying to my post commented that some inflation is necessary to stop people hoarding money and keep it circulating in the economy, which sounds logical to me.”
        Well, it’s a supposed positive function of inflation, yes. In reality, that effect of inflation can be avoided to switch to currencies or assets which aren’t as prone to inflation, for example gold, real estate, or Bitcoin. Of course there are problems with such “value storage assets”, or example the relatively high fluctuation of their value, but overall they are still really good for long-term value storage. Inflation is not the ideal mechanism to prevent hoarding of “value”.

        “I know very little about bitcoin. None of the books I have on the history of money or alternatives to current forms of money mention bitcoin at all.”
        So, you are basically saying that the current books about money are not up-t-date. Well, someone should change that, then! 🙂 Ignoring Bitcoin is no sensible option. It reminds me of scribes ignoring the invention of the printing press. Why should they write about the printing press? It’s not their area of expertise, and it makes them redundant. If you want to learn about Bitcoin, do it online. There are more than enough blogs and YouTube channels about Bitcoin.

        “If I were to recommend a change to the monetary system, it would be that whoever controlled the money supply could not profit from the creation of money.”
        Yes, I agree.

        You want to see some new form of money? Then I think I have the thing you actually look for: Flux currencies! http://forum.fractalfuture.net/t/getting-the-basincs-right-with-flux-currencies/613

        Flux currencies are currencies that I’ve come up with in conjunction with my reputation economy system Quantified Prestige: http://radivis.com/quantified-prestige/

        Anyway, here’s my definition of flux currencies (conceptual proof of concept is the Fluido currency explained in the Quantified Prestige documentation):

        1. A flux currency is a digital decentralized currency, a cryptocurrency
        2. Flux currencies have conditional demurrage, meaning that above a certain amount of money you have in that curency, everything above that will be automatically devalued by a specific percentage per year
        3. Flux currencies allow for continuous transfers of money over time, unlike current currencies which require discrete transfers
        4. Flux currencies are not mined directly. They neither have Proof-of-Work, nor Proof-of-Stake mechanisms for money creation. What can be mined though, are mining tokens, which may attract reputation. Mining tokens may be traded, but all trades are absolutely transparent
        5. Flux currencies allow users to make transparent verified transactions, for example for verifying that you paid a certain organisation a specific amount at a certain time. This mechanism is used for the voluntary taxation system.

        1. means that a flux currency is basically a mind-child of Bitcoin, or rather an improved version of Bitcoin
        2. conditional demurrage is a superior way of increasing the circulation speed of money, while avoiding the negative effects of inflation.
        3. is simply a nice feature to have. It’s essentially a bonus you get for free when you have a system which implements conditional demurrage correctly.
        4. This prevents the inappropriate gratification of the creation of money. Instead, money is created according to specific mechanisms explained later.
        5. Optional transparency of monetary transactions enables an efficient gift economy. Coupled with a good reputation system it even enables a probably functioning voluntary taxation system, which libertarians should be very glad about, because they have involuntary taxes.

        Now let’s come to the kinds of generation mechanisms for a flux currency. There are different flux types:

        – An A flux is generated by verified attention allocation. Those who pay attention to something, get rewarded with an A flux in turn
        – A B flux is basically a continuous basic income in a flux currency
        – A C flux is a conditional income paid out for satisfying specific rules – I still have to think a lot about this kind of flux, because I’m not sure what it’s actually especially good for, especially in comparison to an R flux.
        – A R flux is an income based on quantified reputation. This is what the Fluido currency was intended for. You have a high reputation means you get a lot of Fluido.

        There might still be more flux types. It’s still a quite new concept.

        So, here you have my vision of the future of money: Flux currencies. Do you see any problem with that approach?

  2. Those who want to follow the replies for this post on the forum I posted it on can view them here:

    http://www.kurzweilai.net/forums/topic/alternative-plans-for-the-end-of-jobs#post-733078

  3. Nothing currently jumps out as being wrong. In fact, a lot of what you propose sounds to me like the sort of thing others who seek to reinvent money would like to see happen.

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