IMAGE: E. Dans

There’s none so blind as those that will not see

Enrique Dans
Dec 11, 2016 · 2 min read

The progressive substitution of people by machines to carry out an increasing number of jobs is arguably the most important social evolution in the history of mankind, much more important than the first industrial revolution, if only because of the rapid speed with which change is taking place.

And yet, despite its enormous relevance and increasingly palpable impact, many people, particularly politicians, are opting to bury their heads in the sand.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are making more and more people unemployed as they take over a growing number of professions. Each time a company or sector adopts these innovations, each time they incorporate robots and machine learning, their performance becomes the new benchmark that their competitors cannot ignore.

Let’s be clear, we’re no longer talking about boring, mechanical, dirty, dangerous or demeaning jobs: white collar professions are increasingly under threat. No doubt, over time, new professions will appear, the nature of which will change the very way we define work, but in the meantime, many professions will simply disappear. And for large numbers of people, retraining will, in many cases, be very hard or impossible.

Simple logic dictates that the system of subsidies and protection that many societies have developed will collapse. The safety net that was supposed to protect the excluded has become overly complex to administer, and importantly is unfair The only option is to redesign it based on the idea of basic income, thus avoiding absurd marginal tax rates to people who not deserve them, and to ensure that in an era of more abundance, wealth is distributed so as to provide the greatest good. Prolonging the agony of our current system will only increase exclusion, as we stretch pyramid schemes unsustainably, generating a disenchanted majority willing to vote for a savior, or clown, as their last hope.

As events throughout 2016 have shown, burying our heads in the sand will only bring political disaster. As the saying goes, there are none so blind as those who will not see. As long as our politicians refuse to discuss basic income, we will continue to rely on a dysfunctional system. In short, we will be trying to build the future with tools from the past.


(En español, aquí)

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

Enrique Dans

Written by

Professor of Innovation at IE Business School and blogger at enriquedans.com

Enrique Dans

On the effects of technology innovation on people, companies and society (writing in Spanish at enriquedans.com since 2003)

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