How do we build a society when most jobs are automated?

#automations #jobs #universalbasicincome

As automation increases more people become unemployable. However we have built a society that assumes that most people have jobs. How do we prepare for a world where that’s not the case?

Bill Gross defends in this article the idea of establishing a Universal Basic Income of, eg: $10k per year per person in the US and argues that it could be paid for with 1) raising taxes, 2) issuing more debt via the private market and 3) selling debt to central banks at low interest rates that would be paid back to the government.

Can the excess productivity of a few pay people for the sustenance of the rest of the world? For example, as of 2015 in the US alone 20% of Americans have 93% of the money. Paying for the UBI sounds in principle like a solvable problem.

And, more interestingly, once something like this is feasible, what would do the world look like? What will civilization do with all the millions of new man hours per day of cognitive surplus?


Your life in weeks

Using a grid of checkboxes to represent our lives in terms of number of years, months or weeks looks very useful to remember that the clock is ticking and that it’s up to us to decide what to do with the time we have left. Here are the pictures from waitbutwhy but I recommend reading the whole article.




Do what you think you should do, not what you want

Doing what you think you should do means doing what you think a better you would do. It is not doing what others tell you to do or what you think others expect from you.

And not doing what you want means ignoring your instinctive responses which is likely inappropriate (system 1 reactions) or plainly wrong (cognitive biases). It is not ignoring the inner voice that tells you what makes you really happy or that tells you that your body needs rest and that you are done for today.

The larger the difference between what you want and what you should do the larger the difference in terms of outcome.

For example: you work for a company or a project that excites you but when you get home or you wake up you are still so excited that you frequently want to continue working. However for you life is a balance between various areas of attention and you know what happens when you spend all your hours awake working and none with family, friends or leisurely. Asking yourself this simply question “What do I want to do right now and what should I do?” makes it easier to stop yourself from taking actions that you will later regret.

Science & how it helps us understand the world better

Here are some extracts of Neil DeGrasse’s recent opinion piece on the Huffington Post:

What is the essence of science?

Do whatever it takes to avoid fooling yourself into thinking something is true that is not, or that something is not true that is.


How do you “do” science?

Conduct experiments to test your hypothesis and allocate your confidence in proportion to the strength of your evidence. Since then, we would further learn not to claim knowledge of a newly discovered truth until multiple researchers, and ultimately the majority of researchers, obtain results consistent with one another.


How does it help you learn more about the world?

Science finds objective truths (can be verified anytime by anyone) regardless of whether you believe then or not.

Eliminate the unnecessary, do what’s essential

If you seek tranquillity, do less. Or (more accurately) do what’s essential — what the logos of a social being requires, and in the requisite way. Which brings a double satisfaction: to do less, better.

Because most of what we say and do is not essential. If you can eliminate it, you ‘ll have more time, and more tranquillity. Ask yourself at every moment, “Is this necessary?”

But we need to eliminate unnecessary assumptions as well. To eliminate the unnecessary actions that follow.

— Marcus Aurelius, “Meditations”

Is there anything you can do today to remove something non-essential?

Before replying to every email ask yourself: what happens if I don’t reply? Is it really that bad? What happens if I don’t check in on Facebook, Google+, Twitter or Instagram every hour? Or even every day? Is the fear of missing or not being up to date really out worth my time? What happens if I stop watching this or that TV series? Can I honestly say that the TV series is making my life better? What happens if this or that item in my todo list don’t get done? Is it going to severely affect my happiness?

Are any of those tasks worth more than spending more time playing with my kids, my friends or my aging and loving parents? Are those tasks worth more than going on a hike, traveling, mastering a new skill or practicing my favorite hobby?

Overcoming your fears

A long time ago I used to play as a DM in a roleplaying game called Dungeons & Dragons. I played it during weekends with my high school friends. I loved it. We created stories together that transported us to fantastic worlds for hours, my friends and I were using our creativity to the maximum, we had such surrealistic and fun situations that we ended up laughing so long as to get muscle aches. But years passed, our other interests shifted and we parted ways ending the campaign.

During the last 8 years or so I yearned for playing again but I always had that little guy sitting by my ears telling me things like: “you don’t have time to play, it’s a lot of time, you’re not in a Spanish speaking country, with your heavy accent and your lack of medieval vocabulary in a foreign language how are you supposed to do it? It won’t work, it won’t be perfect, bla bla bla.” And he kept hammering me and keeping me from trying to play again.

But enough was enough, a few months ago, after moving to Dublin I decided I would give it a try. This Stoicism 101 post by Tim Ferriss as well as his The 4-Hour Workweek book and the “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” question inside it helped me overcome that little guy. And boy did I like playing again! It was not comparable to my teenager times but it was at least as fun as in the old times. If you are curious about how it went it’s all more or less recorded on our campaign’s blog: Zhymballa.

Would you like to try something new or something exciting and your fears are keeping you from doing it? I invite you to imagine the worst case scenario. Now imagine yourself in your death bed lamenting never having had the guts to try it. Rate from 1 (just a little bit happy) to 10 (nirvana) how well do you think you will feel by doing it and rate from 1 (just a minor inconvenience) to 10 (you risk dying if you fail doing it) how bad the worst case scenario is. Compare both numbers and decide by yourself. In my case I had at least a potential 7 or 8 happiness against feeling embarrassed in front of some strangers and myself (something I would rate as 1 or 2).