back to article Blue sky basic income thinking is b****cks

How on Earth did this nonsense about a basic income come about, with its inability to understand governments' thinking on paying benefits? There are three parts to the idea. Firstly, that automation is going to kill jobs by replacing blue collar and white collar human workers with automated machines. Secondly, the basic …

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  1. juice Bronze badge

    Haven't we just had this rant?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/10/18/basic_income_after_automation_thats_not_how_capitalism_works/

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Haven't we just had this rant?

      And it's in a better news category. But only just.

    2. You aint sin me, roit
      Angel

      Re: Haven't we just had this rant?

      Yes, but it's nearly Christmas!!

      'Tis the season to expect a plethora of anti-humbug articles!

  2. m0rt Silver badge

    You see, their work is done. You have already equated basic income ideas which mean only idleness will increase. Causation/correlation etc etc. Your thinking seems to follow that of most governments in that you must control people into doing 'good' by not providing the 'bad'.

    But the thing is, the 'bad' which 'causes' the 'idleness' (sorry about the 's) did actually provide a much needed equalisation in society when the various forms were introduced.

    Whereas I applaud the fact you wrote about it. I strongly dislike the manner in which you wrote it. But then, there will be others that support your rhetoric. This is debate in action.

    Fun, isn't it?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I love...

    ...is a good rant about the problem with X, without providing an alternative.

    How about this. Invest more in GOOD education (and I don't mean starting kids in school before they have learn't to eat solids).

    Spend more on crime prevention, drug rehabilitation, homelessness, health promotion and social skills and all those other fluffy things that you can't measure.

    And hey presto, you find all the other budgets no longer require as much money.

    But of course that involves a lot of short to mid term pain and we don't want pay taxes for that do we?

    1. Michael Strorm

      Re: What I love...

      " What I love is a good rant about the problem with X, without providing an alternative."

      In itself, and as a general principle, that's not a fair criticism.

      It's quite reasonable to see that something is a problem- e.g. global warming- without having an easy answer to it. (If nothing else, it stimulates discussion.)

      It's also quite reasonable to criticise someone else's answer to that problem- regardless of whether or not you have one yourself- if that "answer" is blatantly flawed.

      Otherwise, it's the equivalent of- having said that painting everyone's bottom blue and shoving marbles up their noses won't actually solve global poverty- the original proposer responding that they don't see *you* coming up with any ideas and at least they're doing *something* about it.

      What a negative ninny. Hand us the pot and brush when you're finished with it, won't you? :-)

    2. Preston Munchensonton
      Boffin

      Re: What I love...

      What I love...

      ...is a good rant about the problem with X, without providing an alternative.

      Lucky for you that El Reg exists, then.

      How about this. Invest more in GOOD education (and I don't mean starting kids in school before they have learn't to eat solids).

      Speaking of vagaries with no definition, exactly what is good education? Your suggestion is as worthless as the lack of alternatives from the rant that you loathed. The problem isn't investing, as there's heaps of money being thrown at education the world over, but how it's spent. As it stands, any teacher can tell you that the excess of money thrown at education has funded a huge bureaucracy and not addressed the issues in the classroom.

      Additionally, the kids who need the most help tend to have the least help at home, so your solution had better address that side of things too.

      Spend more on crime prevention, drug rehabilitation, homelessness, health promotion and social skills and all those other fluffy things that you can't measure.

      How about we decriminalize victimless crimes like drug possession and stop ruining people's lives because it makes us feel like we're doing something about crime. People don't need more crime prevention, rehabilition, or any of the other fuzzy measures of societal well being. They need peace, domestically and internationally, and that starts with decriminalization. I could go on at length about all the other bad governmental policies causing such distress (minimum wage laws, immigration restrictions, trade tariffs, et al), but I already have enough downvotes as it is.

      And hey presto, you find all the other budgets no longer require as much money.

      But of course that involves a lot of short to mid term pain and we don't want pay taxes for that do we?

      Unless you eliminate governmental agencies, you won't ever (EVER!) eliminate the spending. Politician cannot help but frantically give away government largess to their army of cronies that keep the political machine well-oiled. I think too many incorrectly assume that they would feel significant pain if somehow the government wasn't involved in virtually every area of our lives. It's truly short-sighted, since most of those institutions are a result of the growth of the developed nations and not a factor that caused the growth.

      All of that being said, the article is utter shite, since the author conflates the robot-job takeover crowd with the universal-basic-income crowd, when both camps don't even require each other. UBI is a concept to replace the huge swaths of social services with a stipend, nothing more. It's purpose is to raise the reservation wage. Any article that discusses UBI without mentioning the reservation wage is completely disingenuous. The robot-job takeover crowd have things completely backward economically, since robots wouldn't completely replace humans if no humans can spend on consumption (hence, consumers) unless robots can allow all of us to consume at will without working (and no one will be complaining then).

      /rantover

      1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        Re: What I love...

        "How about this. Invest more in GOOD education (and I don't mean starting kids in school before they have learn't to eat solids)."

        Speaking of vagaries with no definition, exactly what is good education? Your suggestion is as worthless as the lack of alternatives from the rant that you loathed.

        As a starter, take some of the proven workers who have been "aged out" of the workforce and pay them to do all of those things that teachers are currently forced to do for free that take away from actual teaching time -- coaching sports, directing the school band/chorus, organizing the Christmas pageant, doing the bulk of the staffing for the field trips/"Spend An Educational Week in __________" excursions, etc., etc., etc.

        Pay the teachers to concentrate on teaching and either hire people to do those secondary things that you want available for "broadening" your child's world or shut up.

        1. Denarius Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: What I love...

          except this already happens. A lot of us in the retired/outsourced/junkheap categories already do freebie things in our communities. Rewarded of course by necessary bureaucracy, forms and process. Also copping lectures about upskilling at our own expenses (anyone can pay $25K for a crap college course, right?) One wonders how much the undocumented charity services save governments in West? Judging by how quickly the food bank in my small town had its user count climb I suspect the economic efficiency pundits don't have a clue as to how close many of Oz are to completely becoming disconnected to what passes for society. Then the last part of the article does hold true.

          Yet Western gummints, especially in Oz have an ideological fixation with punishing the poor, not the 35% of 100 biggest companies that pay no tax. If you want a recipe for instability, this is it. No doubt the rise of the security estate (yes, I think the spooks are another country inside their countries because they have different laws) is connected to the elites beginning to fear the peasants are restless. Trump being elected by use of persuasion techniques, not policy is a sign of this. Previous Oz PM is another, thankfully failed, example, though his toxic legacy lurks on.

          Now to watch the spook estate in Merkin Land investigate its presumptive El Presidento over Russian hacking, instead of asking the obvious question of why any computer of significance be accessible from anywhere ? /* yes I know, cost cutting by the stupid, but bear with argument please */

  4. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Mixed feelings

    I have mixed feelings about this article.

    Firstly, I agree that the Luddite thinking is wrong: Automation may kill off jobs, but other jobs will be created to fill the gaps. The population will reskill and things will continue as they are.

    However, I believe that a true basic income along with tax system changes would be a way to radically simplify taxation and benefits. If one was to figure out a sensible minimum liveable income (i.e. it would cover the most basic housing, food and bills, no more) and pay that to all, but then applied a higher but simpler tax to all income (maybe a flat rate, even), most would not loose out, and the cost of administering the system (for the government and for individuals) would fall drastically.

    We would, potentially, still need a system to root out the work-shy, but that's always going to be the case while we have a social security system.

    It's not without it's downsides, but the upsides have the potential to outweigh them drastically.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Mixed feelings

      >We would, potentially, still need a system to root out the work-shy

      Work-shy. I think that needs unpacking a bit. There are lots of activities that people do for recreation that are equivalent to paid or useful work. It's just much of the paid work has been made unenjoyable (paperwork, nasty bosses, petite rules).

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: Mixed feelings

        Work-shy. I think that needs unpacking a bit.

        It's not important to my main argument, but I meant "can work but choose not to and just rely on state benefits".

        I do not believe there are as many of these as a lot of people think, but I believe there are more than a lot of other people think. These are the people who choose to have a kid, get a council house/housing benefit, and live on what the state provides. This is completely unacceptable, as it means other people are working to support them in their idleness. I don't know how to deal with this, except for my above assertion that the basic income should only cover what's required to live, but it's something which would have to be looked at (and heavily discouraged if the system was to work).

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Mixed feelings

          "can work but choose not to and just rely on state benefits".

          The number tends to vary with the size of those benefits, since everyone has a different view of what :"life" means. That's a large part of the problem, are Starbucks/beer/cigarettes/Sky TV essentials or luxuries? Who do you pay this basic income to? Do you pay more to large families, and if so how do you stop people creating large families just to get more money? What about single parents? Remember that when child benefit was first introduced it was paid to mothers, because one of the reasons for having it was that some fathers were not providing enough for their children (either from lack or earnings, or lack of willingness).

          It's reminiscent of Marx ""From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" which sounds great in theory, but only works if people don't game the system, and people will always game the system. The only way to fully control it would be to go back to the Dickensien system of Workhouses, and I don't think anyone would want to see that.

          1. Richard Jones 1
            WTF?

            Re: Mixed feelings

            I absolutely agree with your comments and no doubt the other side will hammer in. If anyone takes the time to follow real life, e.g. by watching the flow through the Job Centre they will see what a depressing place it can be. Many come because they are unable to work through no fault or error of their making. Possibly > 90% fall into this group, but you do also get the odd one or two who are a delight for headline writers short of a space filler. the characters who have missed 6 appointments in a row who clearly explain it is not their fault as they "do not do mornings".

            Let me very clear the >90% are deserving of very carefully crafted help, the sort of help that was available back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when the country needed to find people to work at whatever they could do. But back then efforts were made to try to find what was possible, not reasons to find that it was impossible for them to do anything. Job roles were found and some of them were still working and earning when I joined the labour force in the 1960s. Their accumulated skills served them well and they were often well respected members of the workforce, except when other more able bodied failed to communicate with them and used assumption not communication. I know I had to sort out the messes that created. Then of course we started resorting to importing people to try to fill the gaps, there is no intent to denigrate the imported workers.only to worry that today's stop gap is all too easily tomorrow's problem

            So now stop simply ticking boxes, start to deal with people and their issues in a quest for workable solutions to ease their lives. I have a close relation who urgently needs such help, a few hours voluntary work per week breaches their limits all too easily, following a string of medical problems. They don't moan about 'not doing mornings', but they do get hugely depressed about not having any quality of life and no way to improve that limiting situation.

            For the record, they get no unemployment money or any other income either and relay on relations to house, feed, transport and clothe them.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Mixed feelings

              So what do you do when there are 12 people stranded in the middle of the desert but only 6 bottles of water.

              Because that's essentially the problem right now. And putting it this way, it becomes clear there's no happy ending in store.

              1. JHC_97

                Re: Mixed feelings

                Actually its more like they have 12 people and 12 bottles of water but one of the people says he owns 6 of the bottles and you are right it won't end well for that person.

              2. Jason 24

                Re: Mixed feelings

                I'm not sure the bottles of water analogy works, to simple.

                We've one bunch of people screaming that they took our jobs.

                And then another screaming that if EU labour dries up there won't be enough workers.

                Always puzzled me as those 2 statements cannot both be correct at the same time.

                Not sure I can make the water bottle analogy work.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Mixed feelings

                  The EU labour is to provide continuity of labour due to aging demographics of the indigenous but not-so-outnumbered-yet population.

                  If jobs go then EU labour becomes less necessary - the downside is that there may not be enough people paying tax to support all the pensions and health problems with the oldies left behind. Guv'mint spending is pretty hand-to-mouth most of the time and these need to balance off to some extent.

                  Jobs for the old, that's what we need - ok, I'll get my coat...

                2. Rattus Rattus

                  @ Jason 24

                  "...screaming that if EU labour dries up there won't be enough workers"

                  By which they mean there won't be enough workers willing to work for peanuts and they might even have to start offering to pay something closer to what the job is actually worth.

          2. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

            Re: Mixed feelings

            @Phil O'Sophical:

            Firstly, nice name!

            are Starbucks/beer/cigarettes/Sky TV essentials or luxuries?

            Luxuries. Essentials are pretty much shelter (basic housing and power) and enough food to survive. Anything else is a luxury which should be worked for.

            Who do you pay this basic income to?

            Every adult.

            Do you pay more to large families, and if so how do you stop people creating large families just to get more money? What about single parents?

            We are getting into details now, and I don't have all the answers. For this and the rest, most of these issues are present in any social security system. Therefore unless one would argue for the removal of social security systems in general (and I certainly wouldn't), it's not an argument against the basic income. These issues need to be dealt with no matter how "benefits" are dished out.

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: Mixed feelings

              "Essentials are pretty much shelter (basic housing and power) and enough food to survive. Anything else is a luxury which should be worked for."

              What about clothes? Do they come under shelter? What about the sort of smart clothing one might require for a job interview?

              While we're at it, what about enough internet access that someone can find and apply for a job. Does a phone connection come under the same umbrella as internet access?

              When it comes to food, what about something like chocolate? It's not necessary to live, but you'll find a bar in the ration pack of pretty much every army, as they consider morale just as important as physical fitness. Does mental health have a priority?

              1. Pompous Git Silver badge

                Re: Mixed feelings

                What about the sort of smart clothing one might require for a job interview?
                Mrs Git purchases most of her clothes from Op Shops and looks very smart indeed. Typically she pays $5-10 for items that cost north of $100 new.

              2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

                Re: Mixed feelings

                "What about the sort of smart clothing one might require for a job interview?"

                If the interviewer is such a shallow-minded twat that they insist on smart clothes then they can bloody well pay for them. I don't see why the welfare system should foot the bill for the prejudices of a by-gone age.

                1. Rattus Rattus

                  @ Ken Hagan

                  "I don't see why the welfare system should foot the bill for the prejudices of a by-gone age"

                  Because those who don't bow to the prejudices of a bygone age DON'T GET A FECKIN' JOB.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: @ Ken Hagan

                    > Because those who don't bow to the prejudices of a bygone age DON'T GET A FECKIN' JOB.

                    Wear a $1000 suit & tie to an entry-level job interview, it's blatant ass-kissing. You will not get the job.

                    If it's an office job, something a bit nicer than jeans & t-shirt is advisable, to the tune of about $50 new, but anything presentable will do. And frankly I would hire someone in jeans & t-shirt as long as they don't stink to high heaven, if they seem competent.

            2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

              Re: Mixed feelings

              are Starbucks/beer/cigarettes/Sky TV essentials or luxuries?

              Luxuries. Essentials are pretty much shelter (basic housing and power) and enough food to survive. Anything else is a luxury which should be worked for.

              I would agree, but many people will insist that they need cigarettes/beer for medical reasons ("It's an addiction") or that TV entertainment is a basic right since they don't have a job...

              These issues need to be dealt with no matter how "benefits" are dished out.

              Indeed, but then you enter the whole area of eligibility, and "means testing", so it's no longer a flat rate income, but "welfare benefits", and if people can get them in addition to a basic income it's no different to what we have today, it just costs more.

          3. TheTick

            Re: Mixed feelings

            "It's reminiscent of Marx ""From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" which sounds great in theory, but only works if people don't game the system, and people will always game the system."

            Exactly, this silly idea requires that someone somewhere assess both people's abilities and people's needs. It's not surprising that the people making these decisions discover that they, their families and their associates need more than anyone else...

            It's also a philosophy that the current leader of the Labour Party believes in (if I recall, I heard him praise it in a YouTube clip of an Oxford Union debate). Yet I don't see him actually doing it, nor any other of the champagne socialists. There's nothing stopping them voluntarily spreading their wealth about.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Mixed feelings

              You could set the basic income by 1) taxing earners a fixed percentage of all earnings (both labor and investment income), then 2) dividing by all population and handing out cash. That eliminates the requirement to determine or specify need for the most part. There would still be requirements like children going to school, but it could be paid from the allocation.

              This method autoscales the basic income to the level where most will work. Think if the tax is 15% and only one guy in 100 million works, even if that guy makes 1 billion, everyone only gets 1.5. For the small percentage of free loaders, we are bribing to get out of our hair, but we pay today in other services anyway so that isn't so different.

          4. Red Bren
            Pirate

            Re: Mixed feelings

            "It's reminiscent of Marx ""From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" which sounds great in theory, but only works if people don't game the system, and people will always game the system."

            The powers that be always make a big show of cracking down on people gaming the second half of the system, often spending far more than the crackdown actually saves. While at the same time, they turn a blind eye to those gaming the first half of the system, partly because they're at it themselves.

        2. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Mixed feelings

          These are the people who choose to have a kid, get a council house/housing benefit, and live on what the state provides. This is completely unacceptable, as it means other people are working to support them in their idleness.
          So we need to force those who would wish to be idle to work so they can displace those in work, forcing them to be idle. IOW maximise unhappiness/discontent. Why?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mixed feelings

      "The population will reskill and things will continue as they are."

      Good luck with that - ageism is rampant in many sectors. Try getting a job as a (newly qualified) software engineer in your 40s as an example.

      We have to accept that there are people who will struggle to get new jobs once their existing job/career is rendered economically or technologically obsolete. While I think the universal wage is not the solution something else needs to come in to keep these people fit, motivated and not idle. Controversial but how about paying them to do state sponsored work (though not sure exactly what that might include - picking up litter, public gardening that sort of thing?) or take state funded reskilling classes e.g. to do apprenticeships etc.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Mixed feelings

        Controversial but how about paying them to do state sponsored work
        Slavery works well in the USA:
        [prisoners] can be forced to work under threat of punishment as severe as solitary confinement. Legally, this labor may be totally uncompensated; more typically inmates are paid meagerly—as little as two cents per hour—for their full-time work in the fields, manufacturing warehouses, or kitchens.

        American Slavery, Reinvented

    3. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Mixed feelings

      "Automation may kill off jobs, but other jobs will be created to fill the gaps. The population will reskill and things will continue as they are."

      I don't think this is true. Manufacturers don't buy machines so they can pay more people to tend the machines than they used to pay to do the work to begin with. Automation only makes *sense* if it reduces overall jobs.

    4. Richard 12 Silver badge

      "Radically simplify taxation and benefits"

      This is the part that's simply not true in any way, shape or form.

      A Basic Income scheme would have roughly the same complexity as the current benefits system, while having far more claimants. Administering it would cost far more, even ignoring the increased actual payout.

      The complexity in the current benefits system comes from many places.

      The cost of living (esp. housing and transport) varies across the country. Disability. Children. Single or has a partner. Top-up of salary (working tax credit etc).

      Almost all of that is still required under Basic Income - unless you want to hang those groups out to dry?

      Taxation is complex because of the array of exemptions and adjustments - encouraging business and individuals to do certain things, like R&D, save for a pension etc, preventing businesses from paying directors and employees "in kind" (car, house, private jet...)

      All of that is still there, in fact worse!

      1. Richard 81

        Re: "Radically simplify taxation and benefits"

        "A Basic Income scheme would have roughly the same complexity as the current benefits system"

        Why?

      2. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: "Radically simplify taxation and benefits"

        A Basic Income scheme would have roughly the same complexity as the current benefits system, while having far more claimants. Administering it would cost far more, even ignoring the increased actual payout.... The cost of living (esp. housing and transport) varies across the country. Disability. Children. Single or has a partner. Top-up of salary (working tax credit etc).

        A Basic Income system would pay out a set amount per adult. It may be that it would need to be area-specific, especially for London, but should definitely not be inflated for "rich" areas (e.g. housing costs in a high-income area).

        Working tax credit is no longer needed as everyone receives a set benefit.

        Single or with a partner doesn't matter, each individual gets a set amount. There would probably need to be an amount paid to each child's primary caregiver, but this, too, should cover only the basics required to live.

        Disability and a maybe few other types of benefit would still be required, but I doubt their administration would cost any more than they currently do. Therefore there are still the savings on administration of most in- and out-of-work benefits.

        As for taxation, there could then be a much simpler tax system. No personal allowance, fewer exemptions, fewer levels, and (I would suggest) no different treatment of different kinds of income. I believe it could just be done as a flat rate tax on all income (except the UBI, no point giving then grabbing back through tax).

        Your assertions basically amount to keeping the same system but calling it UBI. The entire point of UBI would be a radical simplification of the tax and benefits systems, without which it would be pointless.

    5. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Mixed feelings

      FYI: new jobs are created but, typically, they have not been for those that lost theirs. There was an interesting doco on this a while ago discussing how, when big changes came about, you had a generation that lost their jobs and suffered great hardship and the jobs came about for later generations - it certainly isn't a straight up switcheroo.

    6. David Paul Morgan
      Facepalm

      Re: Mixed feelings

      we've been talking about this really since the late 70's / Early 80's.

      What could have been an opportunity to use automation and re-skilling to share the benefits of a more 'leisured society' became the selfish race to the bottom of Thatcherism/Reaganomics. We know now that pure unfettered capitalism will NOT filter down benefits to the less fortunate, less able and less skilled. (ironic that manual labour and ditch digging still has not been fully automated, but many middle class 'white collar' skills have!).

      In terms of 'the work shy' there will always be a very very small number that don't want to participate. let them. we can carry a small amount of slack. However, my issue with a fixed income is that it's too crude. I would suggest 'negative income tax' and scrap all other allowances and benefits.

      eg. Everyone would have a 'tax code' which would factor in their circumstances. In order to bring them 'up to' a level of income guaranteeing a level of dignity in society, they would receive the correct 'negative income tax' in their payslip. Then, as they are able or skilled to take on more work, eventually, they would get to the 'zero' point and then as their income increases, then 10k @5%, up to 25k @10% etc up to 50% 'private' income tax bands. A better continuum.

      This would all require a re-negotiation of "the social contract". what does industry expect from society (workforc & politics) - what do the workforce expect from their governments? I think at the moment, no-one knows their roles and are too confrontational, rather than cooperative - and in the UK 9& USA?) our political system is 'adversarial' rather than altruistic.

      Of course, underlining this is the fact that we have way to big a population to sustain any of this. An elephant in the room, consuming resources. We need a big push to encourage population shrinkage - especially in the more resource-hungry rich 'west' and as a way to improve people's standard of living in poorer countries.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Global Depopulation is the answer

    Not a civilisation shattering event like world war or zombie apocalypse... just a good old fashioned plague or two...

    1. MrXavia
      Alien

      Re: Global Depopulation is the answer

      I was hoping for an alien invasion myself....

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Global Depopulation is the answer

        The lizard people are now in charge of the UK and US if that helps.

        1. Richard 81

          Re: Global Depopulation is the answer

          "I come in peace. Take me to your lizard."

        2. Nolveys Silver badge

          Re: Global Depopulation is the answer

          The lizard people are now in charge of the UK and US if that helps.

          Lizard people or lizard brains?

    2. Preston Munchensonton
      Stop

      Re: Global Depopulation is the answer

      Not a civilisation shattering event like world war or zombie apocalypse... just a good old fashioned plague or two...

      Why wait? You can do your part right now and depopulate yourself. I'm sure that's just what the world needs. #smh

  6. AMBxx Silver badge
    Pint

    cream macchiato with a double shot not the cappuccino with soy

    So liberating to drink black coffee. None of this BS when ordering.

    1. beAfraid...beveryAfraid

      Re: cream macchiato with a double shot not the cappuccino with soy

      But no-one drinks Starbucks foul and flavourless coffee black.

      It's only made palatable by the addition of flavours, cream and sugar

  7. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Caring for each other is something that we cannot readily automate. OK, some medical procedures can be automated, but I doubt we will get a really satisfactory replacement for the human touch. This holds true in many areas. I frequently fly all over the world and very much prefer eating in a restaurant or drinking in a bar where I can actually chat with waiters or bartenders, ask them advice on the menu or local beers. I do not see that need going away any time soon.

    Given the fact that we live to much higher age than before, one clear area where work will increase is simply in caring for the elderly, and not just the highly skilled job of treating ailments, but just day to day stuff, including such basic things as satisfying the need to talk to a fellow human being. That is something that is not easy to automate. Siri, Cortana or the new Zo are no replacement

    1. Seajay#

      But as was mentioned in the previous article, this does something pretty scary to the job market. The doctor gets replaced by an expert system, the surgeon by a robot. The only human job left is care assistant but that's a) an unskilled job and b) only going to be provided for rich people since it doesn't serve any particular medical need.

      It's not a particularly appealing future where a handful of people designing or managing the automated systems are fabulously rich and everyone else becomes waiters or artisan bakers in the hope that one of those rich people wants a human made, imperfect bread roll for the novelty even though they could have as many perfect machine made rolls as they want.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        I am not too sure people are willing to be submitted to a fully robotic doctor. There may well be a large "market" for persons translating expert system outcomes into a message palatable to the patients. After all, being a good doctor requires far more than being good at diagnosis and treatment. Suppose the computer states: you have a malignant growth. How would it be able to lend you the emotional support you need? Computers can be great tools for diagnosis (they are already so), but I doubt they will be able to give the same level of emotional support to patients us meat bags can. Today, they certainly cannot. Of course, quite a few meat bags aren't that good, but many are great.

        1. Nolveys Silver badge
          Terminator

          I am not too sure people are willing to be submitted to a fully robotic doctor.

          GREETINGS, MEAT SACK. I AM DOC-TOR RO-TOR. PREPARE ORIFICE FOR EXECUTION OF PROCEDURE PROSTATE EXAMINATION. CHARGING INDUSTRIAL HYDRAULIC SYSTEMS. PALPATE! PALPATE! PALPATE!

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