Is Your Job Safe?

Society needs solutions to the rapidly changing labor market of the automated future.

By Alexander H. Maurice.

In March of this year, Google’s advanced artificial intelligence, AlphaGo, beat world-class Go champion Lee Se-dol. After a computer beat the world chess champion in 1996, it was only a matter of time until artificial intelligence would finally surpass humans in the more complicated game of Go. If your job depends on Go-like decision-making skills, you should be worried. According to experts, that’s more of us than we’d like to think.

Depending on the estimate, anywhere between 25 and 50 percent of jobs are at high risk of being replaced by either advanced software or robots in the next 10 to 20 years. This is coming at a time of already high levels of precarious employment and economic uncertainty. If society doesn’t start thinking this through, it may find itself grossly unprepared for the fastest employment shift in industrial history. Yet there is one plan in the works.

The idea of a universal basic income is a possible solution that has been gaining traction recently with both Silicon Valley and trade unions, from the extreme right to the extreme left of the political spectrum. The concept is that a small portion of the capital generated by the new-found efficiency of automation would be divided among all citizens. In a more automated future, a guaranteed basic income may be the only way to avoid widespread poverty and instability. Without addressing the changing shape of the economy, a growing impoverished and precarious segment of the population will be excluded from the benefits derived from highly efficient, AI-driven industries. If governments don’t take the lead, there is a chance that a basic income created out of …

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