The Problem with Universal Basic Income

UBI is widely touted as the solution to what to do with society once automation takes over and renders the vast majority of people economically useless.

Putting all the problems of economic feasibility aside and assuming it is doable, there’s a problem that such a solution brings up that is not getting enough attention but that strikes at the heart of the issues we will face in the age of automation.

What are people going to do with themselves once they no longer have to work?

Initially it seems like a wonderful problem to have as it will free people to do what they really want to do with their lives. But we define ourselves by how we contribute to the societies we live in. Our jobs become part of us, for most people their careers are the answer to who they are and what they do. When our function in society becomes obsolete how will people derive purpose and meaning from life.

The hope is that people will take their hobbies and past times and turn them into lifestyles that give them their new identities. But just look at how most people today choose to spend most of their free time, watching tv, playing video games or surfing the internet. Will people find fulfillment and happiness from a lifetime spent in such trivial pursuits?

Liberating us from the need to make a wage to survive will be the true test of humanity, there’s no telling how we will fare but it will certainly be interesting to watch.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”

– Mark Twain


  1. The Star Trek universe shows one way – self fulfilment for those on Earth. Space exploration for others. Everything we used to do down here will be needed up there somewhere. It’s the process of getting to this next stage of human life that worries me. Star Trek had WWIII – I hope we can do better.

  2. The transition period is the scarier part. Given that neither government or most competitive corporations are coming up with solutions fast enough.
    A ubi or citizen dividend will become essential to distribute money, in the absence of wages /work income to do it.
    So far politicians are still pitching “full employment” as mass unemployment is just not a good message.
    How to make current economics work with a ubi is a flawed question, Because a ubi cant work without a whole new approach to the concept
    money creation and its functions . The laboriousness economy is here.

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