A good article and also a good recommendation on the book. I’ve owned a copy since it came out and referred back to it a number of times.
As Brynjolfsson and McAfee write in the book, Voltaire stated “Work saves a man from three great evils: boredom, vice, and need.” So the big problem is that we must solve all 3, not just the one.
In a sense, cutting a check for everyone via a UBI or some other mechanism is actually the *easiest* part of the problem to solve (it solves the ‘need’ part). ‘Boredom’ and ‘vice’ are much more difficult to solve. Assume that we taxed the robots or did whatever to generate the cash necessary for something like a government-run UBI. Will everyone, assuming that they were given a check every month to live on, find something that gives their life purpose (a hobby, a volunteer project, part-time work, etc.)?
The evidence isn’t encouraging. In communities where there are a high number of people drawing on existing welfare programs because of joblessness, there are also high degrees of purposeless boredom, crime and drug use (to the point where heroin, etc. is killing people at a furious rate now). Another good book here which has now gotten a lot of attention is “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance.
Some of us have warned about this for years, but were laughed off (maybe because people found it too scary). It’s too late now to go back (which never works anyway). We’d better work together and figure this out soon. Wishing upon a star and listening to political charlatans isn’t going to fix this problem.