Robots were on parade recently in Zurich to demonstrate in favor of a basic income for all citizens, a referendum item which is slated for the June 5 Swiss election.Whether you agree with the solution, it’s refreshing to seepeople debating the socially transformative problem — what are humans supposed to do for income when half or more jobs are done by smart machines over the long term? As NYU Professor Gary Marcus remarked last Labor Day, “Eventually I think most jobs will be replaced, like 75 or 80 percent of the people are not going to work for a living.”That’s a social apocalypse headed this way, and most political leaders are on snooze-mode.It’s particularly disappointing that the debate-filled presidential campaign has had zero discussion about a likely cause for the jobless recovery — surely automation is at least partially (largely?) to blame, in addition to excessive government regulation. Clearly the recession caused many businesses to switch to machines to save money, and the result is being seen in lower employment. (See my Social Contract article: Presidential Candidates: Why Is Automation’s Job Destruction Not Being Debated?.)As I have described, only two governments have grappled with the approaching automation behemoth: Tennessee and Israel. More attention in the states would be welcome, as well as in Washington, if the people in the Congress aren’t too busy with fundraising for re-election.The idea of a guaranteed basic income as a remedy to technological unemployment has been floating around on the internets where the automation future is being discussed, both pro and con. The strategy was included in Martin Ford’s important book, Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. He cites Hayek as a conservative proponent of the proposal.Of course, a government that controls and dispenses incomes sounds a whole lot like socialism, and we know how well that hasn’t worked. If anyone can come up with a capitalism-based response to the robot catastrophe, inquiring minds would be love to hear it.It looked like the Zurich robots had a good time, at least.Naturlich, the robots should also advocate for an end to immigration in Switzerland, because foreign workers will not be needed in the near future, if they ever were. In fact,
‘Robot’ activists in Switzerland demand guaranteed income for all humans, RT.com, May 1, 2016A “robot rally” has taken place in Zurich, with more than 100 activists wearing cardboard costumes in the streets as part of a major call for the introduction of Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) in Switzerland.The Swiss are set to go to the polls on June 5 in a referendum on a guaranteed income for everyone. The sum proposed stands at 2,500 Swiss Francs ($2,500). The Swiss people will be voting on a new article in the country’s constitution which stipulates that the federal government would have to implement the UBI with an “amount high enough for people to live off in dignity.”According to the organizers of the first rally of its kind in the world, activists from the Unconditioned Basic Income (BGE) movement, claim that the main idea of an UBI is to secure the basic needs of human life unconditionally. Calling themselves “the robots”, they argue that humans should be free and not struggle for basic income.“We want to work for the humans to relieve them from the struggle for income. We are really good in working. But we do not want to take away people’s jobs and thereby bring them into existential difficulties,” a BGE declaration adopted earlier this year reads.Fearing that soon the dangers of robotization in the workforce will cost humans their jobs, the “robots” decided to play an active role in defending the idea to introduce “an Unconditional Basic Income for all humans.”“I beg of you, dear human friends, go out and fight for the unconditioned basic income. Convince your friends that we robots are not enemies but friends. Because it is you who created us,” one robot said at the rally.Despite strong robotic advocacy, according to Friday’s poll by Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, the push for a basic income safety net will be rejected in June. Currently only 24 percent support the idea, while 72 percent oppose it.“Despite a most interesting campaign, the promoters don’t stand a chance with their ideas, even if it is the first nationwide vote on such an issue,” Claude Longchamp, head of the GfS Bern institute, told Swiss Info.