I have written before about Automation and how a “Job” as we know it is changing. Albert Wenger has written extensively about it. He has also written about establishing what he calls a Basic Income Guarantee and feels it is a much elegant solution:
Basic Income Guarantee (assuming for a moment that it can be made to work, this is what my research project is about) is a much more elegant solution. Why? Because it shifts the bargaining position for *all* labor as it gives everyone a credible walk away point. Yet it still allows for the labor market to clear effectively. For instance, if someone wants to do an unpaid internship (e.g., at a startup) because they value what they will learn this can now happen, whereas a minimum wage requirement will effectively eliminate a whole bunch of these internship opportunities.
The above argument is that we would want to weigh the cost benefits of working vs not working and with a Basic Income Guarantee, anyone can walk away from work but continue to sustain themselves. I don’t think it is a sustainable solution. I really don’t want to believe that as a viable or an elegant solution. It demeans the very nature of a human being. We are all put on this earth with a bigger purpose, some of us recognize it and others not so much. It is in front of us everyday, we can choose to be an automaton and be replaced by a machined one or we can choose to live for something bigger than the “job”. It is true that Automation will displace labor as we know it, but it opens a whole new world of opportunities for humans. To quote Dr.Scott Peck,
“Love is the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth… Love is as love does. Love is an act of will — namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”
― M. Scott Peck
We don’t have to limit the above definition to the love we have for our family, parents or pets or even nature, it can be extended to anything. Machines can be made to do a job but they cannot love, they will not know how to extend themselves to nurture or to act on will. We alone can love our purpose or the will to create something, a startup, a company, a greenhouse, our hobby etc pretty much anything. Getting a business model to work for the above act is the difficult problem but not impossible to solve, it could be made difficult with competition from machines and maybe a Basic Income Guarantee allows for us to pursue our passion or maybe not. Maybe we will become lazy and forget what it means to have the love to create, given our sustenance is taken care of, I don’t want to believe we will move into that world. I want to believe we are spiritual beings pursuing a greater good other than efficiency. I believe Entrepreneurship is a solution, it an act of free will to build an economic model that creates value. I think everyone of us can be entrepreneurs. It is a creative endeavor and it was validated by Tom Kelly one of the co-founders of IDEO and brother of David Kelly who founded Stanford’s d-school. Tom Kelly gave a lecture in Iceland promoting the book called Creative Confidence, to quote the authors:
Too often, companies and individuals assume that creativity and innovation are the domain of the “creative types.” But two of the leading experts in innovation, design, and creativity on the planet show us that each and every one of us is creative. In an incredibly entertaining and inspiring narrative that draws on countless stories from their work at IDEO and with many of the world’s top companies, David and Tom Kelley identify the principles and strategies that will allow us to tap into our creative potential in our work lives, and in our personal lives, and allow us to innovate in terms of how we approach and solve problems. It is a book that will help each of us be more productive and successful in our lives and in our careers.
I tweeted about this during the lecture is the tweet storm:
What do you think? I don’t think we have figured out what the above means for us in our society. We also need to take into account that different regions in the world are in different maturation cycle of this, so there will be a major change coming especially in the more advanced economies. I just heard the news about Detroit where the basic services of water is not being provided to the residents because the public service funding model is broken. This is in one of the richest countries in the world. I think compassion, empathy and love for our fellow humans is much needed now more than ever. We are embarking on a new journey, are we seeing it? Entrepreneurship is a solution for a number of the big challenges that we have in front of us.