Why losing your job to AI automation could be the best thing to happen

McKinsey reported that 400 to 800 million jobs worldwide will be lost by 2030. That’s only 12 years away. Not enough time for an entire generation to retrain for completely new jobs. As co-founder of Transhumanism Aus, where we investigate systematic changes to society and humanity, I know only too well what exponential technology is doing to jobs.

Mass job cuts are already happening

In Australia alone, some of the nation’s largest employers such as NAB will be slashing 6000 jobs over the next three years, while ANZ has already cut over 5000 people from it’s workforce. Job automation is real and happening right now. Many people think it won’t happen to them, but even developers and data scientists are at risk. For others, panic is settling in.

Forget about working dangerous, dirty and useless jobs

Questioning whether there are better alternatives and examining jobs with a critical eye may make us realise job automation and mass unemployment from AI is a good thing!

A job is a means to put a roof over our heads and food in our mouths. However, if governments and society were to expand their thinking, we may come up with better solutions to ensuring every person has access to these necessities, such as through universal basic income.

Many people are working mundane, dangerous, and dirty jobs, that are better performed by AI and robotics. If those jobs were automated, it would free people up for jobs that have a significant and positive impact on human lives.

Job automation is also a great means of clearing out redundant jobs that are of artificial consumerist and capitalistic importance, and which add little value to society.

Of course there is also the mental health aspect that we need to take care of, as we may feel a loss of purpose when we lose our jobs. However, we might be able to give people the choice to work because of passion rather than necessity.

People see a job as a necessity and fact of life, but what if it isn’t? If job automation is already happening, we need to embrace it and get real about solutions now to deal with the fallout.

There will always be jobs just not in the form we know today

As long as humans are alive and are in control, there will be jobs. They may just not be activities that we classify as jobs today such as caring for children.

It’s likely future jobs will fall under two categories:

  • Necessary jobs to sustain human life and improve healthspan and intelligence (science, food production, child rearing etc).
  • Passion jobs that people do purely for pleasure and which happen to produce services and products that others assign value to (fashion, beauty, sport etc).

Its also likely more people will begin working for themselves, rather than being employed, as society becomes less reliant on jobs in large corporations being the major source of income.

We need better solutions to provide basic needs

It’s time we thought of better ways to ensure basic human needs are met. At Transhumanism Aus, we encourage people to take an active part in shaping society through private industry or politics.

There are several solutions being explored around the world to support societies and to create sustainable economies:

  • Universal basic income: all citizens get a basic payment, regardless of their income, assets or employment status, that is just enough to cover basic needs such as food and rent. Finland, the US and Canada have trialled this model.
  • Monetisation of data: make companies pay for the data that they take from us, and allow people to sell any data they generate to any one who wants it. Hut34 enables AI, bots and IoT to connect, interact and monetise data.
  • Tokenisation of assets: where all real world assets including your house and data can be put on the blockchain. The IBM-Batixis-Trafigura project for crude oil transactions is an example of moving towards tokenisation.
  • Asset and resource sharing: where homes, cars, offices, human labour are all shared and spare capacity is minimised in marketplace models. Airbnb, Uber and Airtasker are part of the sharing economy.

These solutions are big topics and I’ve only begun the scratch the surface. In future posts I will explain each of these in detail.

I only write about exponential tech and transhumanism. Follow me on Medium if you also want to know how to make sense of a world impacted by AI, blockchain and other exponential technologies.