Automation: Why We Need A Universal Livable Income
(posted 2004, updated 2011)

"the economic goal of any nation as of any individual,
is to get the greatest results with the least effort...
It is for this reason that men use their ingenuity to develop
100,000 labour saving inventions. ...
The progress of civilization has meant the reduction
of its employment not its increase."
— Henry Hazlett, Economics in One Lesson, 1946

"CyberGuard always (and automatically) shows up for work every day, never calls in sick, never sleeps on the job, and always gets its paperwork in on time. People can't be expected to maintain peak performance when engaged in a tedious task for long periods of time.  CyberGuard loves tedium and is just as alert at the end of its shift as the beginning." [from 2006 website, no longer available]

Most of these links are out of date. See for up-to-date info.

Foxconn to replace factory workers with 1 million robots by 2014 - 2011

NASA and GM have developed robots that can replace humans in manufacturing autos and other industrial products. - 2010

Retail jobs are disappearing as shoppers adjust to self-service (LA Times 2011)

"As you’ve probably noticed with this idea of technology replacing humans in the workplace there is a giant paradox. ... By removing people from this process and replacing them with technology the people will be unable to raise the income needed to buy goods from the firms. As a result of this demand will fall for the products and the whole system collapses as there is no one to buy the products or services. " - Josh Hunt - Technological Unemployoment The Futurist 2011  

rosie the robot riveter

Robot Arm Video - 2006

Automated car Video

A Robot Stole My Job - Singularity Hub 2010

Will Robots Steal Your White-Collar Job? - 2011

Automation and Unemployment - (video) Marshall Brain 2009;

Robot Nation Blog (updated robot news )

The Key to Automating Everything - RFID Scientific American - 2008

From 2004 - Marshall Brain's list of jobs and sectors that can be automated

Robotic Nation by Marshall Brain (future fiction?)

A Robot In Every Home? 2004

But a funny thing happened while we were pressing our noses to the grindstone - Wired Magazine 2005

rfid tags"Study: RFID saves money, displaces workers... efficiencies driven by technology will ultimately mean fewer jobs." - EE Times 2004

How Stuff Works - RFID Tags

The Future of RFID - think of an RFID tag as a physical URL - RSA Laboratories

2004 - Jobless Recovery ? (Robotic Freedom)

"West Vancouver grocery-store owner locked in a bitter strike battle has unleashed his latest weapon -- automated checkout machines." 2006

Solution to Technology - Jobs Dilemma

Robert Theobald


"My first suggestion is that everybody is entitled to a guaranteed income, sufficient to live with dignity as an absolute right-an absolute constitutional right. That at a time when the machines can turn out enough production for everybody, it is no longer necessary to force people into factories, or into offices, or into jobs unless they want a beer."
- Robert Theobald 1965


"Only a guaranteed basic income can ensure economic growth, technological innovation and social James Hugheswelfare. ...democracies can provide universal economic benefits while advancing the technological innovation necessary to pay for them. I think that it’s time we all got onboard the bus to robotic freedom" Getting Paid in our Jobless Future
- 2004 James Hughes Ph.D., Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, bioethicist and sociologist at Trinity College in Hartford Connecticut USA.

"Unless we send humanity on a permanent paid vacation, the future could get very bleak. ... Or we can avoid this bleak future by re-embracing the techno-utopian vision and consciously striving to shrink working life by reducing the work week, mandating paid vacations, raising the minimum wage, improving workplace protections and providing health insurance and a basic income as a right of citizenship." - Embrace the End of Work - James Hughes 2004

Rick FalkvingeExcerpts from The Coming Swarm Economy: "The industrial model is dead and it is not coming back. ... The job market is never going back to lifetime employments. Industry-critical work such as free software or Wikipedia is not counted as value at all. Today’s economic model has failed at reflecting real value and at promoting industry-critical fundamentals. Job policy and economic policy is based on this faulty model. ... One model for the swarm economy could be a basic unconditional income for every citizen. This would solve many problems, such as the Iron Law of Wages, and promote the industry-fundamental nonpaid work. It would not fundamentally change society’s economy model, as everybody is already guaranteed basic food, board and necessities through welfare systems, but making it unconditional would remove a whole lot of costly red tape. This would enable society as a whole to remove the Iron Law of Wages and allow entrepreneurs to employ people for five hours a week, as well as allow somebody to work five hours a week paid and the rest on nonpaid but society-positive contributions, if they prefer. I don’t believe in doomsday prophecies that nobody will want to work when guaranteed a basic sustenance: again, Wikipedia and GNU/Linux, and case closed. It is true that about 10% of the population will choose to not work and become “professional slackers”. On the other hand, these are — if I am allowed to be blunt — people that don’t work while employed either, people that employers would rather keep out of the workforce, so it doesn’t really change anything in terms of actual production. They avoid work already where they can." - Rick Falkvinge, READ FULL ARTICLE - The Coming Swarm Economy 2011

Universal Livable Income most viable option

Despite the conventional excuse that technology doesn't cause unemployment, it creates "higher-value jobs" - the evidence that advancing technology is going to permanently displace millions of jobs is overwhelming.

There are few viable options to address the technology/jobs dilemma other than immediate implementation of a universal livable income (guaranteed livable income, citizen's basic income, or as it was called in the 1960s and 70s, guaranteed annual income).

Other than smashing the machines (and trying to do everything with our bare hands ????);
leaving people to live and die in poverty while continuing to believe in the 'job fairy' (as we do now); or creating vast make-work schemes (the most costly way to suck up people's lives and resources);
the only practical solution is the implementation of a guaranteed livable income in every country in the world. (Sorry nice Zeitgeist folks, but an immediate switch to a Resource Based Economy is logical but it is not immediately practical - see critique of Zeitgeist Moving Forward)

And quite contrary to the idea that 'we can't afford it', it is actually the least-costly solution in every sense of the word "cost" when we factor in environmental and human costs (and perhaps ethical/moral costs for going down in history as being obtusely, myopically, and tragically stupid), and especially when we factor in the costs of lost opportunities for innovation in all fields of human activity.

However technology is not the only job-stopper. When the economy 'heats up', monetary policy is used by the "1%" to deliberate create unemployment to protect their wealth. Next: Deliberate unemployment

(written and updated by C.A. L'Hirondelle Nov.2011)

See also: Crapitalism and A Tale of Two Memes