Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Climate visionaries explaining why a green universal income will help head off a violent armed uprising by economically redundant workers, who can no longer find a job in the age of automation.

Future tech requires regulations and balanced ties to creation, author says

May 8, 2021
by Sarah Mac Donald

The dramatic loss of work during the COVID-19 pandemic may be a foretaste of the mass unemployment coming down the line in the near future as millions of jobs are displaced by robots, artificial intelligence or AI, and new technologies, according to Irish eco-theologian Fr. Seán McDonagh.

In his new book, Robots, Ethics and the Future of Jobs, McDonagh, who has written several pioneering works on the environment, predicts that in this emerging world, only 50% of people will have jobs. With increased use of AI and automation, many people will not be able to find paid work in areas such as retailing, caring roles, agriculture and financial services.

In Robots, Ethics and the Future of Jobs, McDonagh draws on the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic to spotlight how people might react to being out of work on a mass scale. He notes how after a few weeks of economic shutdown at the start of the lockdown, large rallies took place in some U.S. cities, with many of the participants carrying arms and demanding that the economy be opened up to allow them back to work.

“If there are jobs for only 40 or 50% of the population, what will those unable to get a job do?” he asks.

Look at what happened Australia and the attempt to ‘unfriend’ that country — that is how powerful these billion-dollar corporations are,” he added. “They push back against any efforts to curb them, and fines are a drop in the ocean to them. We cannot allow them to drive this on their terms.”

He believes governments must lead the way in regulating digital monopolies and must introduce a universal basic income to help offset the financial cost to workers replaced by technology. The eco-theologian told EarthBeat he would like to see something like the European Union’s COVID-19 fund to help alleviate the economic impact of coming job losses.

But while jobs will be lost, there will still be plenty of work, and a universal basic income could be linked to people’s participation in projects focused on climate justice and care for the Earth, he suggests.

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The authors don’t explain what happens to formerly proud and independent workers who don’t settle comfortably into their new life as Tolkienesque hobbits, but if they can’t find a job and don’t qualify for universal basic income, perhaps the plan is to simply allow nature to take its course. If you have a problem with this, talk to the terminator.

via Watts Up With That?

May 8, 2021 by Eric Worrall