Giving people free money might be the only solution when robots finally take our jobs.
According to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, the British Labour party is considering the idea of a universal basic income (UBI) in response to the increasing robotization of the workforce.
Appearing on Monday evening at the launch of a report on UBI by the left-wing campaign group Compass, McDonnell said the group “makes an interesting case for a universal and unconditional payment to all.”
RT reports: The policy, which was rejected by referendum in Switzerland on Sunday, would provide every citizen with a flat-rate unconditional income.
“[UBI] could prepare our country for any revolution in jobs and technology to come – it is an idea Labour will be closely looking at over the next few years,” the shadow chancellor said.
The Compass report argues the growing role of automation across many sectors may jeopardize the livelihoods of millions of low-paid workers.
“Central to the case for a UBI is the way it would help prepare us for a world in which the new technological revolution, driven by artificial intelligence and robotics, will, over time, transform the nature of work and the type and number of jobs.
“A UBI offers a powerful way of protecting all citizens from the great winds of change to be ushered in by the fourth industrial age, and of sharing the potentially massive productivity gains that it will bring,” the report says.
Labour backbencher Jeremy Reynolds, who resigned from Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in January, also welcomed the report, suggesting that introducing a UBI could positively transform the current welfare state by replacing a number of different means-tested benefits with a simple universal payment for every citizen.
The labour party are not alone, Dr Moshe Vardi a leading artificial intelligence (AI) expert has also said that societies may have to consider issuing a basic income to all citizens, in order to combat the threat to jobs posed by increased automation in the workplace.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Dr Vardi said: “Our current economic system requires people to either have wealth or to work to make a living, with the assumption that the economy creates jobs for all those who need them.”