The Cost of Freeing Humanity

Real data analysis by Hawksworth (2018) confirms this trend, as more corporations invest in A.I Technology. Hawksworth (2018) explains that with the current growth in A.I, that there will be more jobs available than more jobs lost, as new systems need to be built, maintained and updated.  To this point however, I would argue that these jobs will require a specific set of skills, let’s suppose the transport system is run by A.I, this would include cars, buses and trams etc. Now suppose we have thousands of workers without employment, of how many of these do we presume to be skilled in engineering, software development and programming.  I cannot say for certain, but I don’t believe that it would be a stretch to assume very little.

Usually, in science fiction the technological advances were either setting humanity free by removing mundane tasks, or the robotics and A.I were turning on us.  Weber (2016) also addresses these points, and focuses on the technology aspect, on how humanity could be set free of labour intensive jobs, however, this would not be a choice.  As technology advances, A.I, automation and robotics are becoming more adept at completing tasks superior to human standards, this in-turn will drive the economy down as the workforce is replaced by this aforesaid approach to business.  


 First Halligan does raise some interesting points, one of them being that because UBI is distributed evenly to each person of the state both rich and poor, the total sum for spending is less, which will affect the poor more, this view echos Hanna (2018) who also raised similar concerns over the same issue. I understand their point of view, in which they are implying that the poor will somehow suffer or be oppressed. Here, I would call into question their definition of UBI. UBI must meet three conditions which are unconditionality, liveability and for every citizen (McGee, J, 2018). Under this definition UBI is an unconditional living wage for every citizen, meaning yes that rich do receive UBI, but this does not mean that the poor will suffer, in fact going by this definition they would no longer be poor as they would have their basic needs covered, and to be poor means one can not meet their basic needs.  Putting a measure in place to prevent certain classes from receiving UBI, means that it is no longer Universal, and is instead a conditional income as Hanna (2018) also discloses, and a common issue with conditional income, is that people fall through the cracks, people that should receive, don't receive, causing unnecessary suffering.

There are good arguments on both sides of this topic, and I would err on the side of an optimist, that yes, a large proportion of the population will be affected and lose their jobs.  Despite the job losses, I would entrust in the state government to introduce new social policies such as Universal Basic Income (UBI). A policy such as UBI will allow citizens the time to gain new desirable skill sets, they could start their own businesses, there is opportunity to innovate and explore creative endeavours such as art, music, theatre, film, game development and more.  UBI works by affording all citizens of the state a basic income that covers a citizens cost of living regardless if they are employed or not. Waldman, L, 2018 describes this proposed hypothesis as an inevitability.

Coming from the other-side of the spectrum Halligan, L (2018) covers many claims against UBI and thinks it is a dangerous idea, stating how it relates to Marxist doctrines which led to Soviet communism and oppression. Halligan explains how easily the UBI argument can be picked apart in specific to the scenario I outlined regarding A.I, Automation and Robotics. I’ll address these issues.


I partly agree with this claim, and believe that retraining and better preparing graduates and school leavers could only lead to positive results, and could be a answer to Patel et al (2018) and Makridakis (2017) on their statements on what can be done with this impending crisis. However, I don't believe that because something is an easy way out, that it is not a good idea, in fact one could easily argue that this is the entire point of A.I and robotics, to make life easier.

Halligan also argues that crime, drug use and other antisocial behaviours would spiral. I would counter that the opposite could be true, perhaps not having a basic income is contributing to anti-social behaviour, but this is a slippery slope fallacy, if UBI was implemented, it is not clear what the end results will be, or if they’ll be this extreme.

Halligan has another objection stating that UBI is an easy way out of the A.I, automation and robotics crisis, and that retraining and preparing graduates for the hi-tech world is a better answer.  

who ushers on the side of optimism, that with A.I managing daily monotonous tasks, we humans can innovate, get creative, explore hobbies and spend more time with loved ones.I understand Halligan and Patels arguments, I can also see the potential stated by Makridakis, and although i’m optimistic, the answer is probably somewhere in between, but also raises the question, “What if A.I and robotics can also be creative?”

One final point I would like to address from Halligan, is his view that if people decided not to work they would lose meaning, self respect and friendships in life. I too worried about this claim, as an article by Patel, et al (2018) articulates the pride we humans feel in accomplishing goals and achievements, and the sense of purpose we get from working. his is countered by Makridakis (2017)


Hanna, R. & Olken, B. A. (2018) Universal Basic Incomes versus Targeted Transfers: Anti-Poverty Programs in Developing Countries. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 32 (4) Fall, pp. 201–226.

Halligan, L (2018) Sunday Telegraph (London, England) (2018) ‘Universal basic income is a dangerous idea’. 

Makridakis, S. (2017) The Forthcoming Artificial Intelligence (AI) Revolution: Its Impact on Society and Firms. Futures, 90 June, pp. 46–60.

McGee, J (2018) Why We Should Support a Universal Basic Income [Online]. Green Left Weekly. Available from: <> [Accessed 2 February 2019]

Patel, P. C., Devaraj, S., Hicks, M. J. & Wornell, E. J. (2018) County-Level Job Automation Risk and Health: Evidence from the United States. Social Science & Medicine, 202 April, pp. 54–60.

Waldman, L O. M. (2018) The Inevitability of a Universal Basic Income. Challenge (05775132), 61 (2) March, pp. 133–155.

Weber, R. M. (2016) Where No One Has Gone Before: When Science Fiction Inspires Technology. Journal of Financial Service Professionals, 70 (4) July, pp. 43–46.