Universal basic income. If even Elon Musk says it’s the only option,
it must great, right? It sounds really like utopia came true: everybody
is entitled to receive free money no questions asked, no strings attached. And we could all afford this because production
would be so cheap thanks to automation, and there would be no jobs left for humans thanks
to automation. We are being told the same story over and
over – automation is coming and it will make you useless. You are not part of the automation, which
is why you are not in charge of making decision for yourself. So listen to this bunch of successful people
telling you how centralization is not just the best way, it is the only way. Yeah. I am good. Thanks. Automation has a potential to destroy 45% of the jobs of our jobs, says one report. But others are contradictory. It really depends on what kind of automation
we are talking about. Hypothetically, artificial intelligence does
have a potential to replace humans in all tasks at some point in the future. But are we really going to get there? That kind of a world doesn’t seem feasible. Considering human self-centered and incentive
motivated animal nature, we are probably not going to create a world where we no longer
find a use for ourselves. For the past 10,000 years, human economic
interaction depended on the ability to exchange goods and services for other commodities and
eventually money. No matter how authoritarian the system, it
always relied on trading the products on an open market. But that required other people’s ability
to buy the product, which meant they had to possess some sort of wealth or income. In modern time, that ability is in majority
facilitated by paying wages that are spent on the goods and services. The hypothetical automation that we hear so
many scary stories about would turn this business cycle upside down, as people would no longer
be able to generate income, which would cripple their expenditure, and gradually corporate
profit. However, only that which can be sold is produced. It doesn’t matter how cheap the production
is if there are no buyers. Provided people are the only buyers, owners
of automation are not going make such production that would make it impossible to sell their
products. To imagine a system where automation would
completely replace human labor, would require immense concentration of political power tightly
centralized around owners of automation. But the buyer can also be the government,
which explains unnecessary production of tanks and $1.5 trillion fighter jets that nobody
wants. The real story is, of course, that the government
exists and it often attempts to supplement the expenditure on behalf of the free market. The problem with that is similar to what Amazon
did to the book publishing industry – it destroyed the industry when it grew into a
monopsony – the only buyer on the market. Now Amazon can dictate prices and decide what
it wants to sell or not. If there comes a time when large portion of
population is no longer economically productive, implementing universal basic income would
eliminate poverty, bud deepen income and wealth inequality. Universal basic income would permanently separate
wealthiest technology owners from everyone else who didn’t happen to create a multi-billion
dollar technology start-up. The ramification of this system are existential. With everybody receiving equal amount of benefits
without having the ability to earn for themselves, the option to improve your standards would
disappear. It would eventually make everybody own equally
basic wealth except for those who make the decisions. Essentially, everybody who doesn’t own artificial
intelligence will fall into this category. Replace own with being part of and artificial
intelligence with a central party and you get the idea of how totalitarian Eastern Bloc
used to work before 1989. Whenever some part of population is turned
into passive receivers of income, their political power goes down with it. Their potential to influence the debate in
favor of their interests gets to freezing point. That’s why you’ve never seen homeless
people striking on the streets. Because they don’t contribute economically,
they can’t cause any damage if they choose to take action. Rioting is not an option either as advanced
police and military would take care of that quickly. If you give unemployable people universal
basic income, you sure improve their living standards, but nothing is going to change
on their ability to participate in the decision making. Their voice would be limited to casting a
vote to whomever promises them the highest benefits. Not only is the universal basic income just
one option out of many when dealing with poverty, it’s the least desirable. The fact that the Sillicon Valley so keen on introducing this
idea so much ahead of its time is deeply troubling. It would grant them ultimate monopoly powers
on the market as they would be the first and only owners of the automation. Universal basic income would thus make barriers
to entry the market with your own entrepreneurship, because you wouldn’t be able to increase
your income or make profits on your own. Since most people are left dependent on the
will of the Sillicon Valley to distribute their wealth, it will be up to technology
giants to decide what is universal and what is basic. The scariest part is that everybody seems
to be on board with this. Various testings and proposals are already
experimented with in Finland, Canada, France, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Netherlands,
California or Kenya, with only Switzerland rejecting this idea in a referendum. What seems like a progressive idea even made
it into Marco Rubio’s presidential plan. The only positive scenario that could make
universal basic income relevant would be if the ownership of automation was given up to
public ownership so that everybody could participate in the decision making process equally. I don’t have a problem with people getting
free money. The ideas of universal basic income as a response
to automation are way further into the future than it’s currently presented. It opens up a Pandora door to a new kind of
centralized system, possibly even globalized. I am not convinced that this idea would include
all of us equally, and that with universal basic income, we would all be granted universal
equal access to the distribution of wealth. And because I think that the latter is impossible,
and that permanent hierarchical system would be inevitable with this proposal, I cannot
support universal basic income in the current state of affairs. The real problem why automation deepens inequality
is the existence of high barriers to entry the market and diversify competition in automation
driven industry. Most of the artificial intelligence is through
corporate protective regulations within the hands of few multi-billion dollar transnational
companies. The rate of new entrepreneurs entering the
market is declining fast. To solve this problem would be to focus on
easing up regulations and bureaucracy for small-to-medium size enterprise so as to give
the middle class direct access to ownership of automation. There is no reason to believe universal basic
income would spur entrepreneurship. It would increase the level of risk entrepreneurs
take, which would make money-lenders raise their rates or stop lending altogether. Universal basic income would thus cut financial
funding, which would reduce incentive to innovate and enter the market. What’s causing increasing deformation of
economy is the shift towards generating revenue from intrusive data collection and targeted
marketing that violates privacy of individuals. This business model has similar creative value
as financial institutions trading bonds of risky mortgages among one another to generate
more profit out of nothing. It eventually resulted in an economic collapse
because the artificially generated revenue did not reflect real-life expenditure and
currency movement in the flow. Technology start-ups are no longer focusing
on creating new products, but rather spend most of their resources on improving the data
collecting AI to make it more and more invasive. It creates a multi-billion dollar bubble that
will burst once buyers no longer have enough wealth to keep their spending. Universal basic income sounds like the same
solution as the financial bailout of the banks that crashed the economy. That is a no solution at all.