February 19, 2018

Universal Basic Income seems to be the most neutral and efficient tool to handle the unknown upheavals the use of artificial intelligence and robots will bring.

Sir, Rana Foroohar writes: “A McKinsey Global Institute report out on Wednesday shows that, while digitalisation has the potential to boost productivity and growth, it may also hold back demand if it compresses labour’s share of income and increases inequality.” “Why workers need a ‘digital New Deal’” February 19.

That sure seems to make the case for a Universal Basic Income, a Social Dividend, both from a social fairness angle and from the perspective of market efficiency.

To preempt that really unknown challenge at hand, Foroohar proposes something she names “the 25 percent solution” based on how Germany tackled an entirely different problem, the financial crisis. What it entails makes me suspect it could risk reducing the growth and productivity that could be achieved, and waste so much of the resources used to manage the consequences, so that only 25 percent, or less, of the potential benefits of having artificial intelligence and robots working for us would be obtained.

I worry sufficiently about a possible new Chinese curse of “May your grandchildren live with 3rd class robots and dumb artificial intelligence”; to also have to add “May your grandchildren have to serve the huge debt derived from technocrats defending your generation from artificial intelligence and robots.

Sir, I had more than enough of besserwissers trying to defend us and when doing so causing much more harm. Like when regulators, full of hubris, promised “We will make your bank system safer with our risk weighted capital requirements for banks”.