According to Genesis 3:19 “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food” condemned Adam to a life of endless labour for his consumption of forbidden fruit. According to Wells, T. (2014) through the introduction of robots into society and the introduction of universal basic income (UBI) humanity may finally rid ourselves of this dire sin.
The prospect of UBI is becoming increasingly prominent through the idea of an automated society. The Committee for Economic Development in Australia (CEDA, 2015) reports that up to 40 per cent of Australian jobs existing today have a moderate chance of disappearing within 15 years as a result of automation. While technology doesn’t necessarily reduce employment, UBI may allow for a softening blow for low-skilled workers (Whigham, N. 2016). Wells states that if automation does significantly impact the capacity of employed individuals, our economic system may ultimately experience an overproduction/underconsumption crisis.
Following the displacement of work within the manufacturing industry following the industrial revolution, increases in clerical employment dismissed the idea of technological unemployment (Hughes, J. 2014). Hughes floats the idea that we may entering a techno-utopian period, and thus no solutions to technological unemployment due to ‘superabundance’ are advantageous or required, as through access to 3D printers allowing low-socioeconomic individuals the capacity to build whatever they want. Perhaps through techno-utopia we may commit the grave sin of idolatry.
However Wells (2014) demonstrates that we are brought back to the moral ground of the protestant work ethic which I have discussed thoroughly in previous posts, embedded by Western religions may prove to be the ultimate hurdle. Since the economy is a foundation of various constructs that make up a measurable value, it would be wrong to apply any ethical or religious imposition upon economic achievement of further value for society.
CEDA (2015) Australia’s future workforce? Committee for Economic Development in Australia, viewed 03.04.16 <http://adminpanel.ceda.com.au/FOLDERS/Service/Files/Documents/26792~Futureworkforce_June2015.pdf>
Hughes, J. (2014) A Strategic Opening for a Basic Income Guarantee in the Global Crisis Being Created by AI, Robots, Desktop Manufacturing and BioMedicine, Journal of Evolution and Technology – Volume 24, Issue 1.
Whigham, N. (2016) Should Australia seriously consider a universal basic income? NEWS.com, News Corporation, viewed 04.05.16 <http://www.news.com.au/finance/economy/australian-economy/should-australia-seriously-consider-a-universal-basic-income/news-story/d35635c64bd5f089c92ebba54852bd3d>
Wells, T. (2014) The Robot Economy and the Crisis of Capitalism: Why We Need Universal Basic Income, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/07/17/4048180.htm>