I believe structural unemployment is inevitable and it is going to be a by-product of the rapid pace of change in our era rather than just pure competition with cheap robotic labor. So, what do we do with millions of unemployable adults who can’t be re-skilled or educated to keep up with the demands of future job markets? Assuming we don’t want to let them die in misery, we either redistribute other people’s wealth and give some to the precariat, OR we somehow distribute ownership of future means of wealth creation.
Here comes the cool part! The idea of universal basic robots (i.e. everyone is going to have a super smart robot slave to make money for them!) has its merits, but before we get to a point where robots are so versatile and smart that they can do anything we throw at them, there’s going to be many intermediate steps of dumber, application specific AIs or robots. Take autonomous cars as an example, every UBER driver could save enough money to buy an autonomous car (or shares in a fleet of AVs!) and let them make money for him/her.
Will UBER prefer to run its own fleet of driverless cars or will it continue to be the open, neutral platform it is now!? It is going to be the job of the government to incentivize large companies like UBER and Google to allow for a more distributed system of wealth creation.
Robotization is not always going to be so clear cut. A related idea could be forming Sovereign Wealth Funds which primarily invest in automation and AI. Citizens would then benefit from a more diversified portfolio managed for them by the government. One step further could be a form of stock market for the masses where future citizens trade robotic labor and AI workers! This would give the unemployables a new feeling of purpose and control. One day we might all become investors in this new class of assets, D.A.W.
Let me know what you think of this new paradigm for shared ownership of robots!