WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
The rise of robotics and new, intelligent AI automation systems that threaten Blue and White collar jobs is spurring governments around the world into action, so far a Universal Basic Income is the only idea they seem to have to dampen societal unrest and poverty.
In a new report, commissioned in 2016 and released earlier this week by the European Union, MEPs have warned that all 27 member states must seriously consider piloting and introducing Universal Basic Income (UBI) schemes that help their societies prepare for a future packed with artificial intelligence (AI), automation and robots. A future that pessimists regard as a jobless one and that optimists regard as a “hybrid” future – where humans and machines increasingly work alongside or compete with each other to fulfil both Blue Collar and White Collar jobs.
The report, which passed by 17 votes to 2, and which was first proposed by Luxembourg’s socialist MEP Mady Delvaux-Stehres, warns that preparations must be made for what it describes as the “technological revolution” currently taking place, and that the EU must put in place provisions for the “possible effects of robotics on the labour market.” It also states “in the light of the possible effects on the labour market of robotics and AI a general basic income should be seriously considered by all Member States.”
The report will be put in front of the entire European Parliament this February, and also recommends that the EU adopts a new system of reporting that will let them assess the impact that “automation and robotics” are having on companies revenues “for the purpose of taxation and social security contributions.”
In layman’s terms, this is so they can figure out what type of taxes they can impose on different parts of a company’s automated operations – after all, if there are fewer people in work then there are fewer people paying taxes and less treasury income so something has to be taxed to pay for these new UBI schemes, and increasingly it looks like it will be the machines themeselves.
“We ask the commission to look at what kind of jobs – or more precisely what kind of tasks – will be taken over by robots,” said Delvaux-Stehres, “there needs to be a discussion about whether we need to change our social security systems, and even whether we have to think about universal revenue, because if there are so many unemployed people, we need to insure that they can have a decent life. These are different scenarios that need to be studied and be prepared for.”