In the Puqpress video I make a joke that, while robots are coming to take our jobs, they’ll at least start with the bits of our jobs that suck. The article above reminds us of the wider aspirations of those looking to weave technology into retail. Robots are going to take away a lot of jobs. There’s always been job destruction and, with it and because of it, job creation. However, we’re now contending with the distinct possibility of those scales becoming markedly unbalanced.
- My own private basic income
is an excellent article that got me thinking about Universal Basic Income (UBI) again (I haven’t highlighted as many things in an article for ages!). I’ve mentioned UBI in the past in this newsletter. As an idea, I like a lot about it. I don’t believe we should spend our lives defined by our work. I think it will be a more seriously considered option in the near future, the idea of life just coming with a salary.
More recently I’ve been concerned about the motives of those who champion it. Mostly this comes from Silicon Valley, and I think you can see the motives of those in how they talk about it. An income is not enough. If they’re not advocating free universal healthcare, if they’re not advocating for solutions to housing alongside it then you’d be fair in cynically thinking they just want UBI to act as a sedative, as jobs go away, as people are replaced by those who need no wage. UBI would do nothing to close income disparity, especially in a situation where things like healthcare and rent aren’t meaningfully regulated. What do you think UBI would do to rents in London? I doubt very much that it would be seen as anything other than an opportunity for the rentier or landlord to make more money.
It seems such an idealistic, egalitarian ideal. I can’t help but see it being proffered by those looking to pacify, to placate those whose opportunities may be further stripped away. Instead of being reassured by more focus on UBI in tech, I’m increasingly unsettled.