How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy (t3knomanser) wrote,
How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy

Robotic Nation

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<a href=">Robotic Nation</a> is a very interesting essay written by Marshall Brain. Read it. For those of you that are too lazy, I'll provide a dime version and my own commentary.

First, robots are taking over. Automated checkout lines, kiosks with which to order at McDonalds, and a plethora other places. In a matter of years, many jobs, especially in the low paying service sector (the largest one), are going away. Costs drop, so execs make more cash, but unemployed flow out into the streets. Now Brain sees government sponsored welfare hotels as the result, I see a revolution. Your average citizen feels slighted by corporate "fat cats", but right now, no one is desperate enough to do anything that involves a bloody revolution. When the unemployed hordes flow into the streets; when most of the workforce is sleeping in cardboard boxes... I think a revolt is minutes away.

That aside, Brain paints a picture that is very rational, and well argued. "But wait! In every similar technological revolution, more jobs were created than destroyed." True, but think about this. When the robotic Wal-Mart teller breaks down, who fixes it? In a few years, most likely another robot. Well, who codes the software? A sweatshop coder in India at four dollars an hour. All of the sudden, many companies drop the employees but keep the management.

So what do we do?

Well, Brain proposes "Capitalism Supersized" or "Turbo Capitalism". Capitalism works because people have money to spend. If everyone is unemployed, no one has money to spend. Hence, capitalism breaks down. So why not just give people money to spend (something Cate has proposed many times). Let's say $25,000 a year. Where do we get that money?

Well... what makes the most money on the internet? Advertising. Let's sell ad space. Why not put ads on money for example? The profits from that get shot back to the public from an account that pays out equally to every citizen. Profits from natural resource sales? Do what was done with the Alaska Permanent Fund. Find anything that is property of the government, and you can find a way to turn a buck on it. We could dismantle welfare, freeing up money and management resources on a failing project and put them to work on this. Same for social security- <i>and</i> we could keep the social security tax as an income leveller. If everybody pays 5% of their salary to SS, and it pays out to everyone, the rich will see a loss on that, but the poor an increase.

Capitalism works best when everyone has money, so let's give people money. I like this idea. And with robotic labor dropping the costs of goods and services, we're going to see something like this becoming increasingly practical. Think about it.

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