There’s nothing new about worrying that machines will take our jobs. More than 200 years ago, Luddites started taking sledgehammers to weaving machines.
But tech anxiety got a fresh jolt last month when the White House sent out a Council of Economic Advisers report including a projection that people making less than $20 an hour have an 83 percent chance of eventually losing their jobs to a robot. The odds for those earning up to $40 an hour are more than 30 percent.
Not that most Americans would find that very surprising. According to a Pew Internet Survey released last week, more than two-thirds of Americans think that within 50 years, most jobs will be done by robots or computers—although the vast majority conveniently thought that won’t happen with their own jobs.
No matter how this plays out, it’s pretty clear that machines will be handling more and more work, particularly now that increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence is enabling them to take on mental tasks too. And that is raising a big question: When machines dominate the work world, what are all the people they replace going to do for money?
Checks for everyone
Remarkably, one idea starting to gain traction is known as universal basic income (UBI). It’s a simple, if somewhat radical concept—each citizen of a country would receive a monthly check from the government, no matter how much money you make and without any strings attached. You wouldn’t have to meet any conditions to qualify, you wouldn’t have to show you were looking for a job, you wouldn’t face any restrictions on how you spent the money.
Plenty of people think this is a bad idea, or at least a seriously unbaked one. Critics say all that easy money could result in a nation of game-playing, binge-watching freeloaders. But others counter that if there’s a tech takeover of the job market, society will need a safety blanket, not a net. They also posit that those who don’t have to take just any job to cover basic expenses may be able to do things that are more fulfilling or perhaps more beneficial to society.
The truth is that no one knows how people will respond. But there’s a growing consensus that it’s time to start finding out. Next year, government researchers in Finland will begin a two-year study, in which up to 100,000 Finns will receive as much as 1,000 euros a month, without any conditions. The scientists running the experiment will track how often the subjects use public services, such as health clinics, and attempt to get a sense of how much they really want to work. The researchers will also try to determine if a monthly, strings-free check lets people lead happier lives.
Several Dutch cities are considering their own UBI experiments for this year and a yet unchosen community in the Canadian province of Ontario will follow suit this fall. Plus, in June, Swiss voters will be weighing in on a proposal to pay every adult in the country the equivalent of $2,500 a month.
Dregs or entrepreneurs?
The response to UBI in the U.S. has been mixed at best, with much of the enthusiasm for exploring the concept coming from Silicon Valley. One of its biggest proponents has been Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, the firm that has helped startups such as Reddit, Airbnb and Dropbox hook up with investors.
In late January, Altman announced that Y Combinator will be doing its own research—specifically a five-year project in which a random group of people “who are driven and talented, but come from poor backgrounds” will be provided with a basic income.
“I’m fairly confident that at some point in the future, as technology continues to eliminate traditional jobs and massive new wealth gets created, we’re going to see some version of this at a national scale,” Altman wrote in his blog on the Y Combinator site.
So, says Altman, why not find out now if a regular paycheck from the government turns people into dregs or makes them more entrepreneurial, whether it boosts their spirits or diminishes them?
And, in the end, will people be happier if they don’t need to get a job to survive?
“Fifty years from now,” wrote Altman, “I think it will seem ridiculous that we used fear of not being able to eat as a way to motivate people.”
Here are six jobs robots could be handling one day:
1. DRU the Pizza Delivery Robot
Domino’s has unveiled its first pizza delivery robot in Australia. Called the Domino’s Robotic Unit, or DRU for short, the machine is a military-grade prototype retrofitted for pizza delivery. It uses GPS to find customers’ homes and carries pizzas and drinks in locked compartments that are opened by a mobile phone code sent to the customers. DRU also talks.
2. Connie the Concierge
Hilton Hotels & Resorts, in partnership with IBM’s Watson program, has introduced a robot concierge named Connie at its hotel in McLean, Virginia. Connie is able to answer questions about nearby restaurants and tourist attractions.
3. The Robot Pharmacist
A robot at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center is filling prescriptions. A doctor still has to write out the prescription, but then the machine takes over. It moves through the hospital’s pharmacy and, with a mechanical arm, retrieves the medication, sorts the pills and puts them in packets.
Nadine the Receptionist
Scientists in Singapore have created Nadine, a robot that can express a range of emotions and recall a previous conversation. It is currently being used as a receptionist, but could be programmed to care for patients with dementia.
Amelia the Call Center Operator
Several companies are testing an artificial intelligence system known as Amelia as a call center operator. It can pick out key facts from information the customer on the phone provides and use that to determine what question to ask next. It has been programmed to speak in 20 different languages.
Viv the Personal Assistant
The next generation after Siri, Viv will take being a personal assistant to a new level. It will be able to perform thousands of tasks, and unlike Siri, can teach itself. The more a person interacts with Viv, the more it will learn about them. Viv also will be able to be integrated into other devices in addition to phones, such as cars and refrigerators.
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/when-robots-take-our-jobs-should-everyone-still-get-paycheck-180958483/#QXoguH6GblgxmvAK.99
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April 19, 1940 to October 29, 2023
AUSTRALIA – Vera Rae, 82, passed away peacefully after a set of health issues following a fall on Oct. 7, 2023.
Vera was born in Stockport, England to John “Jack” and Alice Gooch. They migrated to Australia following the Second World War, settling in Western Australia.
Vera met the love of her life in 1957, Robert John Rae, and they married on May 30, 1959. They were blessed with two daughters, Jenny and Debby.
Vera loved the Lord, had a strong faith, and was a prayer warrior. Throughout her various illnesses in life, she remained cheerful, gracious, and loving.
Vera was preceded in death by her parents, Jack and Alice Gooch; in-laws, Don and Amy Rae, and nephew, Justin Gooch.
Vera is survived by her loving husband, Robert Rae, Port Kennedy, Western Australia; daughter, Jenny Rae Rizzolo and partner Paul, Bowie, TX, and Debby Rae Harvey and husband Ian, Waikiki, Western Australia; grandchildren, Mandy Jones, Jodie Ehle, Jacilyn Kenny and Bronwyn Has; and great grandchildren, Tahlia, Tanaya, Shelby, Khy, Jordyn, Mollie, Bryce, Brett, Kobe, Lilly, Caitlin, Morgan and Olivia.
Funeral arrangements entrusted to Greenfield’s Funerals, Port Kennedy Western Australia.
Alton “Fred” Allen
March 17, 1945 – May 15, 2022
RINGGOLD – Alton “Fred” Allen, 77, longtime resident of Ringgold, passed away on May 15, 2022 in Bowie.
The family received friends from 7 – 8 p.m. on May 17 at the White Family Funeral Home in Bowie. A graveside service will take place at 11 a.m. on May 18 at Cowboy’s Last Ride Cemetery in Bowie with Richard Allen officiating.
Fred was born March 17, 1945 in Decatur to Alton “Frank” and Zula Prestwood Allen. He was a lifelong worker in the oil field and in his free time enjoyed fishing, hunting and spending time with his grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Dick Allen and Gene Allen.
Fred is survived by his children, Lynn Allen, Ringgold and Zula Carol Dietrich and husband Steve, Petrolia; grandchildren, Blake Allen, Brady Allen, Barrett Allen, Jason Gray, Jennifer Gray, Terry Dietrich and Timothy Dietrich; great-grandchildren Cody and Kendra Harralson and Lincoln Gray; sister Zelta Baker, Bloomfield, NM and numerous nieces and nephews.
Arrangements entrusted to the White Family Funeral Home of Bowie.
Council facing lengthy agenda of new business
Bowie City Councilors face a lengthy agenda of new business on Oct. 25 spanning outside audit proposals, amendments to the personnel policy and six planning and zoning commission requests.
The panel will meet at 6 p.m. in council chambers.
A pair of audit proposals will be reviewed from Edgin, Parkman, Fleming and Fleming, and Mathis, West & Huffines Group.
The personnel policy amendments center on paid quarantine leave and officer mental health leave.
A resolution for repayment of opioid-related expenditures and payment to abate opioid-related harms will be reviewed, along with the 2021 tax roll.
The council also will discuss the Richwood Lake Estates Park at Amon Carter Lake. This topic is a proposition on the Nov. 2 ballot.
An executive session will have the council discuss economic development negotiations on a project. Janis Crawley, executive director of the Bowie Economic Development Corporation, also will give the council an update on the recent Economic Development Administration grant that will provide $1,460,000 to the BEDC for infrastructure work at the Bowie Business Park.
City Manager Bert Cunningham will make his monthly report discussing the asset management program, the audit, search for a new finance director, a program with Honeywell that evaluates facilities on where the city can save money and an update from the Association of Rural Communities.
Public comments and the consent agenda wrap up Monday night’s council agenda.
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