Artificial Intelligence (AI) is widely discussed at the moment, e.g. on numerous occasions at the World Economic Forum 2017 and 2018 in Davos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rw4aWeL3v5g) (2018 example: see below)

Many people have pointed out existential risks AI poses to humanity (probably the most prominent example of whom was Stephen Hawking: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540)

Some politicians have shown an interest in the topic (e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3lzEQANdHk&t=53m0s) but at least in the media I consume, that topic is still heavily underrated. As far as I know, it did not play any role in the US presidential election in 2016 and also not in the subsequent elections in any other country that I have followed.

If I got the picture right that politicians are generally not asked to answer the question "How many and what kinds of jobs will there be for children born today?", then it's even worse: they actually could not answer this question! E.g. Theresa May's WEF 2018 speech addressed that question https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNhsm0oDkSw (11m45s) and admits that she cannot provide any answer to it other than general notices of intent.

Sure, there will be many new jobs in the development and application of AI at first. But these jobs will by default not be sustainable since they work on their own replacement through AI in the long run, not to speak of all the other jobs that do not experience a temporal increase of demand during the initial phase of AI.

At the end of the day, if most human workforce is unnecessary: then what? Universal Basic Income? Are any other serious ideas, ideally actually in political debates?

edit: This is distinct from What is the capitalist answer to automation? because here I ask about

  1. answers to the threat AI might pose to the job market, which in terms of the linked question could be called "self-accelerating automation".
  2. any possible answer, not necessarily within the context of capitalism.

Especially the first point shows the two highest-ranked answers in the linked question cannot be given to the question here since they essentially state "There will always be something to do that has not been automatized yet".

AI is increasing its capabilities exponentially (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3PV9xMSfSs, I know this is not the best reference, but I am sure you could find some real scientific review on that) and so far it appears to be possible that these capabilities might become universal. This is very different from e.g. the Industrial Revolution where machines were introduced, but it was clear that the machines could only ever take physical tasks, i.e. the machines were dumb.

This question is therefore more specific than the linked one concerning the term "automation" and more general in terms of the possible answers.

  • 1
    It’s difficult to predict the future. Imagine a hundred years ago, when in many countries 90% of the population were working in agriculture, someone had asked a politician: “Technical progress will soon render almost everyone in agriculture superfluous. If most human workforce is unnecessary, then what?”
    – chirlu
    Feb 3, 2018 at 23:49
  • In retrospect (of course) that could have been answered by: "New fields of economy will emerge". But universal AI aims at outperforming any human in any job, even in the future jobs, whatever they might be. I'm not saying this will definitely occur, or even just that it's possible. But some prominent people say that the probability is there. So I think that if it becomes reality we better be prepared.
    – y0m0mm4
    Feb 3, 2018 at 23:57
  • I assume that you mean under capitalism? Because under most other system, less work would not be a problem that requires a solution. If you do mean under capitalism, this seems like a duplicate of What is the capitalist answer to automation?
    – tim
    Feb 4, 2018 at 0:04
  • Funny that the top answer there starts with my agriculture example. :-)
    – chirlu
    Feb 4, 2018 at 0:11
  • 1
    Edited the question. Hope I could make it clear why this example and especially the duplicate candidate do not apply.
    – y0m0mm4
    Feb 4, 2018 at 0:38


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