Automation has already taken our jobs

In Inventing The Future, authors Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams lay out their vision for a fully automated economy whereby machines “produce all necessary goods and services, while also releasing humanity from the effort of producing them.” This fully automated economy would require minimal hours to run, they say, and would produce enough wealth that the government could dispense a universal basic income (UBI) that would support us financially so we don’t have to work.

If the authors are decidedly post-capitalist in scope, they don’t specify how automated labor would generate wealth without capitalism. Neither do any other of the innumerable texts I have read on the topic. Where is the government getting enough money to pay us a living wage, without first earning it through the taxation of the wealth we generate by working? As I have yet to see a case for not working that includes a tax plan (other than “tax the rich,” which doesn’t have a long play in this scenario), I remain unconvinced that the two things—no work and free money—go together.

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