WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
- As the threat to jobs from AI, automation, drones and robotics increase governments are experimenting with new welfare schemes aimed at helping stave off future hardship, poverty and social unrest
Scotland could become one of the first places in the world to try a Universal Basic Income (UBI) and next week Fife councillors will discuss whether to move ahead with a limited trial.
Over the past couple of years governments have been increasingly worried about what is seen as the growing threat to jobs from artificial intelligence, automation and robotics as the technologies advance and become more than capable of replacing not just traditional blue collar jobs but white collar jobs as well – from journalists, surgeons and lawyers to factory floor workers and maintenance workers, no job seems immune. With some estimates putting joblessness at between 35 percent and 45 percent governments are obviously keen to try to find a way to stave off what they see as the inevitable hardship, poverty and social unrest that would follow on as a result – and that’s where UBI comes into play.
If approved, Scotland would join the Netherlands, where a trial is currently taking place, and Finland, where one is set to start next year, and they’ll be one of the first nations to actually implement the radical policy.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Scotland to look at something quite radical and put the country at the forefront of work in a policy which is getting growing levels of support across Europe,” Jamie Cooke, head of the Royal Society of Arts Scotland that has been researching the idea, said in a report published Wednesday.
“People working in the field in Finland and Holland are now looking at Scotland as a place where this can be developed.”
The Royal College of Arts, which has been researching the idea, has suggested £3,692 ($4,559.60) per year for adults, £7,420 ($9,163.66) for people over 65, and between £2,925 ($3,612.36) and £4,290 ($5,298.13) for children dependant on age and the number of siblings.