Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Negative Taxation Lottery

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In our future the robots will be doing all the work and increasingly we will not have jobs and therefore no earned income. One of the topical problems with this is that world governments are increasingly going to have to be paying people to be unemployed, which is psychologically demeaning.

Arguably, most jobs today are pointless, and exist mostly to process the output of other people’s pointless jobs. This equilibrium has value, keeping people earning a pay packet to buy rent, food, phones, game consoles, televisions, vehicles. This keeps the wheels of mass consumerism and manufacturing turning, helping make each country look economically viable.

Instead, why not have a national lottery which everyone is entered in, and quite frequently wins. Thus, paying people to simply exist should be accomplished unevenly (much like the ownership of the robots that do all the work in the future will be). That way, the stochastic handing out of money to pay for the tail end of the consumer age won’t be quite so insulting.

Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015

Your job is pointless https://youtu.be/o_tqNNyg-ZU
[Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015]


       In theory, a government could run a functioning, viable economy through running a number of lotteries, 419 scams and Ponzi schemes. Money would be collected and distributed in a pseudo-random way, taxes would be collected and money would flow around the system while robots get on with the real work.
hippo, Jun 23 2015

       Isn't that how they do it now ?
FlyingToaster, Jun 23 2015

       If one imagines industrialization as a roller coaster, we're in the climbing part of the curve, and so we're whittling down jobs, automating everything we used to not be able to automate, and we're not nearly at the top -- self driving cars are nearly here, but talk to me when fruits and vegetables are being picked solely by robots.   

       But then there's another part to the coaster ride, where you're flying down at terrifying speeds -- we cannot truly imagine those changes -- I would think you'd need more than a lottery to figure that out. I would read (or reread) Snow Crash and the Diamond Age -- I think that's as good as any guess as to where's we're going.
theircompetitor, Jun 23 2015

       I don’t doubt what you say, but as for the curve, we’re quite a lot closer to the top than it seems. Fruit picking by robot is not the main differentiator, cheap unemployed humans can always do that. Information economy jobs taken by expensive people can be replaced by robot labour more economically than cheaper unskilled labour, because paying all our doctors, salespeople, broadcasters, reporters, photographers, advertising creatives, chefs, gardeners, teachers, lecturers, pilots, designers, etc. is all quite expensive, so they’ll be the second to go (after the initial wave, a few decades ago, of factory workers).   

       The important thing to bear in mind is that the recent recession has caused optimisations in economy of many industries. Getting rid of deadwood job occupations, job refactoring, etc, outsourcing, all meant that during the recession, jobs could not be found. Now we’re arguably on the way up again, people are not so scared they’ll never see money again, but yet, the jobs are still thin on the ground. Some employment action is returning, but not to the scale it would have been expected before the recession, if you’d imagined a post-recession future scenario back then. This is because during the recession a lot of industries have had to optimise their processes, or go bust, and now they’re still optimised and running well, why go back to the flabby wasteful way of before? A lot of jobs simply won’t return — ever. This is what I mean about being nearer the top of the curve than you think. The robots don’t have to be here yet, in our daily lives, to have that effect. The jobs are gone, replaced by no jobs, and the people are not in full time employment. This will increasingly be the case, as the robots actually do materialise in our daily lives.   

       When we say “robots”, I honestly don’t think it’ll be in the form of humanoid form — two arms, two legs, one head — for a variety of reasons. One: we’re very general, but do we need general purpose robots? Why not have specialised robots. Human form factor might seem to be good for compatibility with us, but we’d hit the uncanny valley almost all the time if that’s the way we went. Robots could be any form factor for tasks, deviating from evolution. Biological development can only increment from what it had before, it can’t suddenly sprout an entirely new novel mechanism from nowhere, nature only has what it already has to fan-out from. We don’t have that restriction. We can imbue robots with anything we can imagine and build.   

       What I mean by a robot is not necessarily a machine, either — not necessarily a thing with arms, hands, grippers, vision systems, whirring sounds, hydraulic sounds, etc. What I mean by a robot is something that can operate toward goals in a highly variable high ambiguity situation, without much prior knowledge of what is happening and will happen. It is festooned with sensory input, even though we focus (especially in fiction) on the actuating output. A conventional machine (toaster, washing machine, aircraft landing gear, escalator) is not that, it is designed to actuate a task or set of tasks in a specific scenario, with limited or no senses, so by design it has a “script” if you like, but it is not a robot.
Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015

       //festooned// I am nominating "festooned" as word of the week. More things should be festooned, by expert festooners.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 23 2015

       We used to festoon back in the day but now robots do all the professional festooning, any festooning we now do is just at the hobby level, same as programming or accountancy.
Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015

       The economic relief-valve for robot-induced unemployment is surely the production of *positional* goods and (increasingly) services. Having other people do stuff for you is a positional good in a way that having robots do stuff can't be.   

       That's not a good direction to be heading in - positional "goods" aren't really very good; but it doesn't imply, in itself, any catastrophic breakdown. I suppose, in that context, this idea might be quite good, making the background dystopia a bit more bearable - but not in so far as it diverted resources away from something more interesting, like exoplanet colonisation, which could generate non-positional goods.
pertinax, Jun 23 2015

       The trouble is, that’s assuming that having a person quaintly and expensively doing stuff for you instead of your normal robots, is equivalent in quality. What if the person, by now out of practice and not up to speed, increasingly makes mistakes and errors in a way that robot optimisation would trend away from? Is that a desirable thing to signal? I suppose it might, in the same way that flaws are an indication of artisan, which is a rebelling against mass production.   

       Also, what is there to indicate via positional goods? Hardly anybody will be working, therefore hardly anybody will be earning money, therefore hardly anybody will be buying much. Maybe money will go out of fashion.
Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015

       //positional *goods* aren't really very good// I'd only half agree with that. On the one hand, I've sat in a very expensive office chair which could be adjusted in any one of six different ways, which meant that it was virtually impossible to adjust it into a comfortable position unless you were a helicopter pilot. On the other hand, the electric seat in my jag has a memory and positions itself wonderfully.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 23 2015

       It was just a supposition.
Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015

       I would suggest that handmade or luxury goods that aren't equal to the quality of machine made are a part of the solution to wealth inequality.   

       If someone is rich enough that they'll spend an average citizens monthly salary on a traditional hand forged Katana (for instance), there is no reason why someone shouldn't making their money on forging that katana. Yes, a machined and oven tempered sword might be more functional, but that's not why the rich buy it.   

       And if a hand thrown mug doesn't last as long as a machine made one, that's one more sale for the potter, and one more bit of cachet for being able to afford a complete set every time the old one breaks.
MechE, Jun 23 2015

       But nobody will have jobs, and nobody will earn an income. The amount of rich people who own the means of production (the robots) really will be in such a minority that you can count their effect as noise. The people in general won’t be able to count on their wealth as a reliable source of income. In other words, there might be a few exceedingly rich people (and it really will be only a few), but for most people, there’s absolutely no way of benefiting from their wealth — no real way of getting at any of it by offering some sort of value: products, tomfoolery or jestering, or sex. There’s not enough of the people with any wealth at all. Those that are wealthy because they own the production and robots are not going to be wealthy for long, either, because nobody can buy their products — they have to be pretty much given away or subsidised by national governments. What will happen is a chasm between the ridiculously rich, and the unbelievably poor, with a huge wide dead quiet flat dry desert in between.
Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015

       [Ian] it doesn't matter if rich people own all the robots, because poor people don't need access to robots to survive and have a good quality of life. They do need access to land and resources, but rich people have monopolised those and charged extortionate rents for allowing access to them, for centuries, so this is not really a new problem.
pocmloc, Jun 23 2015

       // I think in general innovation is drying up on the consumer front, purely because its all been done.//   

       Really? I would suggest the smart phone was a fairly major innovation, and it's not that old. In the past two decades or so, we've gone from having a limited supply of knowledge available at the local books store or library to having access to most of the world's knowledge through a device I carry in my pocket. Prior to that, the last jump of that magnitude happened in 1440 (when multiple copies of books became readily available). Before that, probably around 1000 BC, when a true alphabet was created.   

       Technological change is definitely not slowing down.   

       Self driving cars are just over the horizon, and will be a huge step for consumers. It doesn't really class as consumer, but there are some fairly innovative and exciting medical treatments in research right now. And no, I don't know what the next actual consumer breakthrough will be (I like fully immersive video games, but that one's been predicted for a couple of decades), but someone is working on it right now.
MechE, Jun 23 2015

       pocmloc,- That is true. There’s a lot of our robot future that seems unprecedented but in reality has happened before, or already, or has been the case since before our generations. What is totally new to us, though, is the impending sudden disappearance and supplanting of the entire middle class. Almost all of it. There wasn’t much of a bourgeoisie before the enlightenment anyway, but now there is, and we’re about as used to this relative equality, as much as we’re not used to serfdom anymore. In effect, the reward of studious working at an education and specialist achievement is about to disappear. What incentive is there to do well and improve if anything we can study at and make a career of, can be replaced by tomorrow’s super-deep versions of Siri and Cortana?
Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015

       // I think in general innovation is drying up on the consumer front, purely because its all been done//   

       Things that haven't been done yet:   

       (a) Almost anything to do with DNA. All we can do so far is read it (with very trivial exceptions).   

       (b) Almost anything to do with computers. All we can make them do is what we already know how to do (with very trivial exceptions).   

       (c) Almost anything to do with transport. We can only travel in two dimensions, with the exception of a few experts with huge resources, and we can only travel slowly.   

       (d) Almost anything to do with engineering. We can only work with homogeneous, unstructured materials with the exception of very simple things like fibre composites and found materials like wood and rope.   

       (e) Almost anything to do with medicine. We can barely treat the simplest diseases, and have yet to take the first steps in dealing with ageing.   

       (f) Almost anything to do with food. We still use whatever ingredients nature has furnished us with, (with some trivial exceptions).   

       (g) Almost anything to do with Milton Keynes. We have only theories as to why it exists, and nobody understands its topology.   

       So, plenty of room for growth left in these shoes.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 23 2015

       Oh, talking about (d), the more I think about it these days, the more I realise that although paper is an ancient invention, it’s probably underlies where a lot of our future innovation is, too.
Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015

       I don’t know, I think I’m still regarded as a tool.
Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015

       (a) Once we can actually do something with DNA instead of just looking at it, we have a generalizable cancer therapy; a retroviral therapy; viable gene therapy; preventative genomics (for example, preventing Alzheimer's); and ultimately consumer and cosmetic genomics.   

       (b) It's not garbage in. Show a computer a Monet and it will have the same response as if you show it a Macdonald's wrapper.   

       (c) //Personal aviation for a budget is just not going to happen.// Of course it is, silly. Just not for some time.   

       (d) //Our best bet in the last decade is composite laminates used in aircraft// Very primitive.   

       (e) //If you remove all reason for living, why would people want extended life ?// Quite so. And if you remove my fingers I won't want a piano. Your point?   

       (f) ?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 24 2015

       (g) recent evidence suggests that it was left over from Wales, when the the planets formed and began their continental drifting (which will probably transpire to be an Extremely Low Frequency and I do mean ridiculously unbelievably low frequency hidden message) (for which we’d need to build an ELFAIDMRULF receiver).
Ian Tindale, Jun 24 2015


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