Money is important but it is not the ultimate aim of life. It is what you do with money that matters. You exchange money for food, shelter, and everything else you need to feel safe and comfortable. You save or invest extra money you earn with the expectation you will use it to buy what you need to be safe and comfortable in the future. Most people use money to meet most of their needs. We call it earning a living, or supporting oneself.
Imagine a world where AI did the work you are doing now. It is the same for your neighbors and the people you encounter in your daily life: grocery clerks, the sanitation workers, doctors, teachers and professors, and even artists and authors.
Where will you be? In that world, it may be true that “the most important decision you can make for your happiness is which parents you choose” as stated by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz said at the 5th OECD World Forum on Statistics, Knowledge and Policy in 2015. Only the few who control AI may have jobs and they may be the only ones who can feed, clothe and shelter their families. You may be homeless, living hand to mouth, hungry, anxious, and, in all likelihood, eventually addicted. Unable to meet your basic needs, you and others like you might fall into a lawless armageddon, filling prisons and fulfilling doomsday prophecies about AI and humanity. Or you may be part of a sustainable community that generates its own food, clothing, shelter and energy. You may find ways to put your talents to work that foster security and a sustainable capacity to meet needs for you and others. You may be fulfilling dreams of utopian societies and a simpler life.
On the other hand, universal basic income may become as ubiquitous as taxes are today. You may have enough money to meet your needs, but no purpose or meaning in life. Instead of being homeless you become hopeless and descend into depression. Or you could take another route, and free income may liberate you to explore and develop parts of yourself so that you fully live your purpose. You may find yourself inspired and driven to create and produce goods or services that help other people, or to take a much more active role than you ever considered in building and maintaining a strong community around you.
In preparation for the almost nearly inevitable changes you will face in your employment status, you can define what support means to you. Support is composed of many things - from food to love, home to hope. Another way to think about support is all the things you need to be happy.
- Written by L. Musikanski