> I gather 4IR could destroy half the world's current employment in some
> sectors such as finance. A leading South African practitioner, Elon
> Musk, warns that AI could wreck humanity within the coming few decades.
Elon advocates a basic income.
Have you heard Doug's radio interview about basic income, March 15th? http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/Radio.html#S180315
The concern that automation will destroy jobs has been dismissed by many who point out that the displaced workers can do some new work. That means we we need to consume all that we can produce. That is the most basic reason economic growth is necessary in our system of wage dependence.
The problem is that it is possible to produce too much. Stimulus of demand in the consumer economy has been a great success, and it has brought affluence to many people, but at the price of resource waste and pollution. The most important benefit of a basic income is that it would allow us to produce what we really need without trying to stay busy and produce as much as possible.
Unearned income is only for the wealthy few. Others must work, although we are all planet parasites. Fleas running the blood pumps have the dignity of work. Other are just parasites. Our host has limits even if we proudly believe more work can always produce more wealth.
Our focus on the money economy has confused our understanding of the physical economy. We have lost our understanding that frugality is the root of physical wealth. We only have what we haven't consumed. Our pursuit of income stands in the way of our pursuit of wealth.
Without an end to wage dependence we will not be able to end our destructive hyper-consumption. We only have what we haven't consumed.
A basic income will allow the use of durability to conserve, because it will end the need to create paid jobs. Satiation of demand is the proper economic goal; not job creation. Durability is, by far, the most powerful form of conservation, but it is almost taboo in the consumer/growth economy.
The issue is not whether machines/automation/AI will replace all work. It will not. There is plenty of unpaid work like caring for others, and plenty of work that doesn't have a high rate of return, create private profit, or have benefits except in the distant future.
Paid jobs are the ones that will be cut by computer controlled machines. Imagine the limit case as a thought experiment. A robot economy would have no wages. All income would go to owners of robots and resources. As we approach that limit it would be smart to make some plan other than pointing out that we can never reach that limit.
When I told this the the chairman of the economic department back in 78 he laughed and said, "We know that, read "Steady State Economics," by Herman Daly." It is hard to see that those ideas ever escaped the ivory tower.
It's a bit late for this discussion.