Is Automation: RPA, AI going to end jobs and necessitate Universal Basic Income?

Elon Musk recently came out strongly for the Universal Basic Income because he believes that over time, computers will take over most jobs and people will loose jobs and to sustain this living, people will need to be given a Universal Basic Income.

Watch the video: Elon Musk on Universal Basic Income

But how true and workable is this idea?

While I am not personally against such an idea, I think there is a need for searching better alternatives. Jumping to a simplistic solution like Universal Basic Income inhibits creativity. Here are some reasons why Switzerland, a very rich country that can afford such a decision, actually decided against it (News Link for details).

  1. Disconnecting the link between work done and money earned would have been bad for society; clearly communist/socialism attempted and failed.
  2. The idea Elon moots is that with automation, efficiency will improve and everything will become cheap and a low Basic income would suffice to sustain. However there are challenges to this statement
    1. Efficiency will reduce cost of goods and services but everything will be expensive for an unemployed
    2. Universal basic income may only provide enough to survive, not enough to meet aspirations of the generations
  3. Who would pay for Universal Basic Income? If companies are taxed, then improving efficiency will not result in lesser cost

While those problem exist, I think India has figured out what people will do if they don’t have to earn for their living.  India once was a very rich country and marginal utility curve meant that doing anything more to earn more didn’t yield more happiness. Here are things we could do

  1. Spirituality
  2. Pursuit of Knowledge
  3. Family focussed
  4. Minimalist living as a way of life

But I think the world won’t get there very quickly! There is a lot of work that isnt happening today that needs to be done!

  1. Are all diseases cured?
  2. How many houses are designed by  expert architects?
  3. More sustainable living innovation
  4. zillions of more problems are yet to be solved and Human kind also enjoys luxury of war to go back to ground zero … regressive growth.

What do you think?

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Advertisement targeting kids – is it fair?

My son was asking me to put on his favourite YouTube channel. I selected one video and treamed it on the TV. It looks like a very usual video and I allowed him to watch it but just after 10 minutes of watching he came back and said he wants to buy eggs, gems and gold fish! I was surprised hearing his requests and enquired how he came up with them and he showed me how in the video a father and son make a pizza using all these stuffs. The video explicitly advertises Ben and Jerry ice creams by Unilever, some jelly stuff which I haven’t come across in India. (Don’t ask me why they are putting these things as pizza toppings!)

A video that at first looked very usual YouTube for kids turned out to be an elaborate advertisement getting kids to ask their parents to buy stuffs they shouldn’t be. The video that followed this one was all about two Kids trying to make McDonald’s burger and ice cream for a dinosaur.

Advertising for adults is good because in a way it educates consumers about goods. But consumers are mature enough to make decisions for themselves but kids are not. Search elaborate advertisements should be mark as spam by parents and should be removed by YouTube.

Note that there is a YouTube app for kids – it’s curated but still needs monitoring.

Every work that passes through me gets my stamp

Mr. Joe was pulled into a meeting early in the morning. Mr. Joe wasn’t too excited about the work nor was he too keen but he couldn’t say no to it. So Joe decided to just sit through it and did ‘class participation’.

I was in a meeting where my colleagues was complaining about the agenda not being circulated in advance. The required data was not available. He was complaining that he is clueless why he is there in the first place! I hushed him and asked him to drift along in the meeting… afterall we had senior executives in the meeting and if their time could be wasted – we can’t be complaining!

Does the above happen to you?

While most of us react this way for work we are not transparently accountable for, this leads to poor organisational performance. We take our work so seriously, we go carefully to select people for advise and insight. So when we are pulled into a meeting- someone else is in our position seeking advice.

What goes around, comes around! So participate in every meeting carefully and give your best. Your presence in the meeting is not accidental. If you don’t understand need for your presence, ask! But once in, give your best.

Seeing through the clutter

A year ago when I was in London, I read an article on how Unilever would move from a dual headquarters, UK and Netherlands, to a single one to become more agile. The article also made it amply clear that Unilever would choose London as their only home given more employees sit in London and for a bunch of more reasons.

Today in Bangalore, I read that Unilever has decided to rather choose Netherlands as their home. The tone of the article was more about London loosing than Netherlands winning. It spoke at length how Brexit has gotten UK into this looser position and how Prime Minister May’s vision to make UK more global after Brexit is backfiring. The article also spoke about the CEO being a Dutch, which is ridiculous given today more top officials consider themselves global citizen. Another ridiculous argument was that the current Prime Minister in Netherlands was earlier working in Unilever. I call all these as clutter.

My reading of articles from a dozen newspapers is rather simple:

  1. Having dual HQ was causing Unilever agility

  2. Unilever’s biggest concern is hostile takeover (Kraft foods eg)

  3. Netherlands gives better protection over hostile takeover. Netherlands CM worked closely with Unilever to make it more ‘at home’

Unilever decided to go for the decision that was more favorable. Period.

A lot of articles today are adopting a storytelling approach and in doing so they add all kinds of information to make the story compelling. Don’t fall for it.

When winning, even a WRONG often looks RIGHT!

In cricket, a fielder is should never try to field using legs. One should dive if absolutely required but not try doing the football. This is basics.

But in a match that India went on to win, the indian skipper and bowler applauded Ashish Nehra for doing just that. When winning, the wrong looks quite ok and when loosing these things start to sting.

click to Watch the clipping:

Link: https://mobile.twitter.com/BCCI/status/925764820128882688/video/1

So it’s very important that one sticks to the basics and does the right thing.   Afterall one never know when we get on the loosing side!