Celebrate Machines Taking Over our Jobs (?)

Source: Heleo, Dec 2016

Traditionally the debate has been framed between “The machines are coming to take our jobs and this is terrible,” and “The threat is overrated. The machines aren’t going to take it. People are going to invent new jobs.” You introduced this third possibility: the machines are going to take our jobs… and we might want to celebrate that.

Derek: My concern about universal basic income is precisely that it has taken what work represents now—which is community, income, and meaning—and only takes a single strand from it, the income, and left the other two strands alone. Where does meaning come from? Where does community come from?

Maybe it comes from video games. I don’t like video games—that suggests to me that there are probably other people that don’t really like video games. Where are they going to get their meaning? Are they going to make art? Are we going to have a flourishing of artisanal shops like we had in colonial America? Maybe, but that’s the challenge. Not “How do you replace the money?” We’re three times richer than we were in the 1980s, and we were plenty rich under Reagan. The question is: how do you replace meaning? Maybe art plays a role, but universal basic income doesn’t cover it.


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