I read some articles about employment trends and social welfare reforms during this New Year Holiday.
These articles are quite alarming as they alert me of likely job cuts in near future when Artificial Intelligence (AI) largely or fully replaces human work-force, whether they are white-collars (Hedge Fund Managers) or blue-collars.
The articles also introduce the Universal Basic Income (UBI) system, which has been trialed in some developed countries, are expected to replace the existing social welfare system. To brief, under the UBI governments will pay a flat fee to every adult citizen, regardless of his or her employment status.
These articles raised quite a few questions about the effectiveness of the UBI. Among those there are two foremost ones:-
1 – Will UBI discourage people to find work; and
2 – Who’s to fund UBI?
1 – UBI will certainly encourage more people to stay lazy and get free lunch, however when AI becomes the trend and job cuts become inevitable, UBI helps “stablise” our living environment. You will not expect a stable community or country if the majority of the population is unemployed AND has no income. Besides, UBI only provides “basic income” that means the receipts will be just enough to keep heads above water. To live in dignity and comfortably, receivers still need to work their ways out.
2 – I’m not too worry about the source to fund UBI. From my perspective the majority of UBI shall be and can be funded by business or corporates via tax. These enterprises increase profits by employing more AI and less human labour force, it’s therefore ethically, economically and legally to tax these profitable companies for the savings/profits they make, and divert those funds to UBI.
UBI maybe a solution to nurture humans when AI becomes a major or a complete substitute to human labour force in near future. Knowing that UBI only provides with basic incomes to meet basic needs of receivers, this can either encourage or discourage people to find their ways out.
If people are content with basic living standard, UBI discourage them from productive and purposeful life; the opposite is true when people are seeking a prosperous and purposeful life, then the same UBI will, however motivate them to achieve their goals.
Another solution that I can think of is financial education. If people learnt these subjects well from the reformed education system and applied these knowledge in live, then these people will financially get ahead of their peers, with or without UBI or similar.
To read more blogs like this, simply “follow” me or “subscribe” to my email list and then you are able to read some blogs that are only accessible to Subscribers.