In this new book, work, technology and society are discussed through a series of view points, given by several authors (e.g.: Matt Zwolinski, Michael Cholbi, Andrea Veltman, Evelyn Forget, among others). Universal Basic Income is a policy described at the center of this crucial societal challenge, analyzed by the authors in its wide implications. Michael Cholbi and Michael Weber are the editors.
In the summary it can be read:
Technological advances in computerization and robotics threaten to eliminate countless jobs from the labor market in the near future. These advances have reignited the debate about universal basic income. The essays in this collection offer unique and compelling perspectives on the ever-changing nature of work and the plausibility of a universal basic income to address the elimination of jobs from the workforce. The essays address a number of topics related to these issues, including the prospects of libertarian and anarchist justifications for a universal basic income, the positive impact of a basic income on intimate laborers such as sex workers and surrogates, the nature of “bad work” and who will do it if everyone receives a basic income, whether a universal basic income is objectionably paternalistic, and viable alternatives to a universal basic income. This book raises complex questions and avenues for future research about universal basic income and the future of work in our increasingly technological society. It will be of keen interest to graduate students and scholars in political philosophy, economics, political science, and public policy who are interested in these debates.
The third annual UBI Taiwan international summit will be held in Taipei on March 16, 2019. This year’s theme is “Key Trends of the Next Generation,” focusing on technological development as well as growing income inequality and how these trends intersect with basic income.
Asia has progressed rapidly in the global basic income movement, led by India which has shown intense political interest in implementing policies containing aspects of basic income.
Sarath Davala, Basic Income Earth Network’s Vice Chair, will join the conference to discuss these developments and more in his keynote speech “Basic Income is the Foundation of A Caring Society.”
“This is the third consecutive year that UBI Taiwan is organizing a regional Basic Income Conference. UBI Taiwan is perhaps the only national level basic income group that organizes annual conferences. That is a demonstration of a robust movement, the strength of its leadership and their commitment to the idea of basic income,” Davala said.
Ryan Engen, an Economic Officer at the American Institute in Taiwan, America’s unofficial representative entity in Taiwan, will deliver the opening remarks discussing how digital transformations should make global economies consider updates to our social security systems.
Guy Standing, the co-founder of BIEN, Andrew Yang, the U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, and Peter Knight, the former World Bank economist, will join via pre-recorded messages.
This year, there will be a focus on bringing in academics and opinion makers from across Taiwan. Professors from Taiwan’s premier universities, National Taiwan University and National Chengchi University, as well as influential Taiwanese media figures, will address the conference.
The Critical Language Scholarship’s (CLS) Alumni Development Fund (ADF) provided a grant to help fund the conference and related events. CLS is a language program under the U.S. State Department.
James Davis, the former Field Research Director for UBI Taiwan and one of the project recipients for the ADF grant, said the conference demonstrates UBI Taiwan’s commitment to pushing this discussion in Asia and around the world.
“UBI Taiwan is here to change everything. We are not content with a society where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, as the wages of the working class fall year after year,” Davis said.
Davala has participated in every conference since it began in 2017.
“I am proud to be a regular participant of these conferences. I wish UBI Taiwan team success for this conference. With their kind of energy and dedication to basic income, I am sure one-day UBI will be a reality in Taiwan,” Davala said.
Brian Anderson, a senior at Western Kentucky University and also a recipient of the ADF grant, said this conference will help create academic connections between Taiwan and the United States.
“The push for UBI deserves international support and my project seeks to promote mutual understanding of shared interests between Taiwanese and American citizens,” Anderson said.
For Davis, society’s “inadequate” support for parents and caregivers as well as the financial difficulties faced by students illustrate the reasons why Taiwan should consider a basic income.
“UBI is the future. And UBI Taiwan is here to deliver,” Davis said.
The full conference information can be found on the UBI Taiwan website and on the Facebook event (Chinese).
The rising power of Amazon and Alphabet represents the dawn of a new era. We have to shape a new culture that fits our connected future. Giving people a basic income for taking part in this mega project is the next step we should take.
In a matter of days, both Amazon’s and Alphabet’s stock prices have crossed the $1,000 dollar mark, hammering one nail after another in the coffin of traditional brick-and-mortar business. Malls are collapsing as drones take to the air. Tens of thousands of employees are being fired as automated supermarkets take shape.
Online shopping has become the norm and consumer culture as we know it is going into the history books. People are now using websites such as BuyerImpact.co.uk to help them buy what they need and compare items, it’s easier, faster, and can save them money. And it goes on. Whatever the needs might be, people can find what they are looking for online. They could be looking for new furniture pieces, or perhaps some coats and jackets that are high quality; everything can be found on the internet if they know where to look. Plus, there is the added convenience of not having to leave the house to get new things. Statistically, people can be seen shopping at a much larger capacity as compared to the last decade, due to the availability of gift cards and coupons to stores like Macy’s (sneak a peek at these guys for instance), making items more affordable than ever.
But it doesn’t end with shopping. The evolution of technology is like a fractal phenomenon – the pattern repeats itself in different shapes and colors. Autonomous cars are threatening drivers, artificial intelligence is spreading through the services sector, 3D printers are redefining manufacturing, and talking smartphones are becoming personal secretaries. I suppose a good thing to come out of it is drones, like the ones from https://www.drdrone.ca/pages/dji-mini-2 which can help reduce crime rates, and increases security, and for entertainment purposes is an excellent creation of technology.
The prospect of a jobless future is looming, and the concept of Universal Basic Income is making headlines left and right. But underneath the cold technological surface, a profound human question is brewing: What is going to be the role of the human being in the near future and where are we going as a society?
Human Evolution. The Bigger Picture.
So far we humans have been busy establishing our physical existence on this planet. We hunted mammoths, lived in caves and started fires for quite a while. Then we moved into houses with heating systems and industrialized our food production. Gradually, we are delegating the catering to our physical needs to devices and machines that do the job for us.
We are nearing a turning point in human evolution where a new realm is opening up for us. As we discover that we can largely automate the production of food, water, housing and clothing for all, our time, energy and focus can be invested in what matters most: Developing the essence of the human being within us alongside healing and nurturing humanity as a society.
The Advantage of Man Over the Robot?
Changes are happening faster than we realize since technological progress is accelerating. And if we once asked what is the advantage of man over the animal, soon we will be asking what is the advantage of man over the robot.
Answering this question will not be a matter of philosophy. It will be a pressing issue that determines no less the fate of the human race. The level of tech that will be at our disposal paints two possible futures: We could use sophisticated technology for countries to fight each other and destroy the planet, or we could build the means to provide for every basic human need, and create a reality of abundance for all.
If we wish to move towards the latter, then a lot has to change. And that change starts within us. We have to recognize that our egoistic drive to put our self-interests above all is in contrast with our interdependent future. We have to become aware that the world is a globally integrated system that requires us to move towards unity.
To that end, our social values and the purpose of human culture, our personal aspirations and what we actually do with our time, must all be focused on nurturing our human connections. By doing this, we will unlock a new source of prosperity and fulfillment, and set society on the right track.
Creating a New Connected Culture
Multiple fields of social and biological science have been saying this for decades – we are all wired for human connection. It doesn’t matter where we come from or what values we currently hold, as human beings, we find happiness and fulfillment when we feel connected to our fellow man. And that’s also when we become the best version of ourselves: Productive, creative, healthy, and resilient.
However, creating this new connected culture means a lot of work. The outbursts of human egoism need to be continuously balanced with the uplifting of pro-social values. As human beings we instinctively gravitate to our egoistic drives, but at the same time we’re social creatures that will go out of our way for social recognition. So instead of fighting for self-hoarding and self-maximization, in a connected culture, the social climate will drive us to compete for social contribution.
To achieve that, many people will need to undergo training and later work as educators and community organizers to create and maintain a positive social climate.
Back to the Present: The UBI Dilemma
The voices calling for governments to counter technological unemployment by providing a Universal Basic Income are mostly seeing the economic side of the equation. On the social side of it, it’s not as clear to UBI proponents that the new source of human fulfillment and progress is no other than positive human connection.
If we wish to prevent chaotic developments and move pleasantly towards the inevitably connected future of our societies, I recommend that a basic income will not come by itself. Rather, it will be coupled with socio-educational training. Instead of having people living on welfare while they struggle to compete with ever-advancing robots, they should be receiving a salary for the new jobs of the future: The social and educational roles required to shape a positively connected human culture.
In my view, this is what most people will be doing if we consciously get on the right track as a society. Our intelligence, ingenuity, and creativity can all be utilized to raise the quality of human connections. This is not a pipe dream, but rather the only realistic and pragmatic endeavor we can undertake to avert a dystopian future and make the right turn at the crossroads we are in.
If we work together, we might just have an advantage over the robots.
Michael Laitman is a Professor of Ontology, a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah, an MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics, and was the prime disciple of Kabbalist, Rav Baruch Shalom Ashlag (the RABASH). He has written over 40 books, which have been translated into dozens of languages.
Charles Eisenstein is a degrowth activist, speaker and author of several books including “Sacred Economics,” and “The Ascent of Humanity” (some of which are available online for free), as well as a long time proponent of “alternative narratives,” political and economic ideas that challenge our current system. His work combines an interest in ecology with biology, earth healing, and the psyche. His podcast “A New and Ancient Story” airs every few weeks.
In a recent article on his personal website, Eisenstein asks, what is technology? “A fix,” Eisenstein suggests, maintaining that technology has become an addiction for our society, incapable of solving the problems we face today. “The entire scientific-industrial system has created” a “mindset of quantification, engineering, and control.” Eisenstein suggests that instead of pursuing the traditional “technology of separation” we must begin to pursue the “technology of reunion:” an expanded definition of technology. We must transcend the “story of separation” and enter instead into “the story of interbeing,” where “humans are not separate from nature,” and where “what we do to the world, we do to ourselves.”
Included in his examples of technological reunion are regenerative agriculture, homoeopathy, as well as the truth and reconciliation process. Alongside these, he places a “universal basic income (UBI) and community-based forms of resource sharing.” According to Eisenstein, the Society of Separation is sceptical of UBI, asking, “If basic needs were met, what would compel people to work?” He suggests UBI instead should be thought of as a way to support the impulse to grow and create things for the betterment of society, something Eisenstein believes one must take as given before UBI can be considered. UBI also supports “contributions that are hard to quantify,” such as lovingly raising children, caring for the elderly, or creating art and music.
UBI then fits into Eisenstein’s larger narrative of “the new and ancient Story of Interbeing”. “Some of these technologies will sound outrageous,” admits Eisenstein, who includes alongside UBI “sacred architecture; sound healing; hypnosis and mind/matter techniques; nonviolent communication; compassionate listening; sociocracy, holocracy and other group decision-making methods.” They may be difficult to take seriously because, on Eisenstein’s view, they “come from outside the boundaries of what we as a society have agreed to be real.”
For Eisenstein, UBI is a part of a new conception of technology, one of restoration rather than separation.
Article: Charles Eisenstein, “Institutes for Technologies of Reunion.” charleseisenstein.net, April 5 2017.
Credit Picture CC Taco Ekkel
Santens dives into the modern discussion on productivity and automation, showing that while automation has increasingly replaced human labor, those in work are on such low wages that they need to work well over 40 hours per week as a matter of survival. While many argue that technology replaces jobs but also creates new ones, Santens claims that this is not a one to one relationship and that the newly created jobs are rarely as stable as the ones being replaced. In sum, Santens believes that a basic income is the best way to fix this paradox of automation and productivity.
Scott Santens, “Our Paradoxical Economy Courtesy of Technology and the Lack of Basic Income”, Huffington Post, 9 July 2015.