The Coming AI Pandemic

A Vaccination to Cure the Jobless Future of Artificial Intelligence: A ‘Public Shareholder’ Economy

The pandemic — we ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

The COVIC crises, tragic for so many people, provides a glimpse of the speed with which our society will be overturned again — but this time on a sweeping and totally inclusive scale.

The next pandemic will make COVID look like a day in the out-patient ward.

The new pandemic is the take-over by intelligent machines of all paid work.

Payment for a “job” will be obsolete, because all jobs will be done by digital machines. There will be no paid work left for humans.

If this sounds alarmest, the theme will be developed in coming articles, dealing with the penetration and power of intelligent machines. I have spent my life in the realms of high technology. I have seen this creeping up. Suffice it to say now, that this take-over has been building for a long time, and it is just about to go ‘critical’.

We are used to thinking of change as a series of logical steps; it is comforting to think that we are able to control our lives as a cascade of comfortable events.

But economic and social change is not incremental. It comes like a tidal wave: catastrophic, shocking. The end of slavery in the American Civil War had been building for some time, but came about in a few short years. It is true that the metamorphosis has still not been completed, but in comparison to pre-Civil War days, America entered a new world overnight.

Similarly, many pundits say that the advance of the ‘robot economy’ will be gradual. This is nonsense. They do not understand the concept of “exponential growth” in AI capability. The replacement of people by intelligent machines is gathering speed, and one day soon there will come the “tipping point”, when machines with brains and brawn will replace us all at every job. It will come when manufacturers and service companies realize that they can replace people with machines at a fraction of the cost of human labor.

So, how can we make a living?

We can’t. And if we can’t, the monied economy will tank. As the Union boss said when Henry Ford II was showing him around the new robot-filled factory, boasting that the machines never needed a break or went on strike: “Ah yes, Henry, but do they buy cars?”

Fortunately, when no one can earn a living in the machine economy, experiments around the world are probing the pathway to a new “take” on an economy. It is starting in small approaches like the Guaranteed Annual Income or the Universal Income…steps towards the realization that people need help on a permanent basis to get ahead. The Public Shareholder economy takes this concept into the approaching realm of robotics, where the public income is not an add-on to a current private-sector income, it is the only income, because there is no other income.

The Public Shareholder Economy recognizes that all the citizens and taxpayers, over decades, have been shouldering the burden of creating the infrastructure through which the super-rich obtain their wealth, and that all citizens should therefore be compensated for their contributions.

Decade after decade, citizen spending has created the roads, airports, and railways that private companies use to ship parcels, make products and provide services. Amazon for example is great for digital ordering and store-free delivery, but it is using taxpayer-funded utilities like the transport system, the electric power system and the Internet. The Public Sector (taxpayers) today still provides the capital for more than three-quarters of all infrastructure spending[1].

While we can celebrate the achievements of our entrepreneurs, let us never forget that these achievements were made possible on the backs of the hard work of everyone!

It is time for everyone to take a share of the resulting economic growth. Everyone should be counted as a shareholder in economic growth. This is why I call this an economy made of “Public Shareholders”.

The consequence of this approach, when no one has a paid job, is that everyone will still receive their share of the income from economic growth. Not for working, but for the sheer fact of having made the contribution that makes growth possible.

There is also the certainty that, without this distribution, the economy would be dead.

Because where would profit-taking be, if only robots had the money?

The Public Shareholder economy is the only way to provide an economic engine in a machine-driven future.

Because very shortly, all the paid work will disappear. And it’s already beginning to happen.

> More soon…

[1] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200401/dq200401a-eng.htm

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Barry Gander

I'm a Canadian from Connecticut, so 2 strikes against me. I'm a top writer in 5 fields, & I love finding the Meaning under the passing headlines.