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IEET > Security > Eco-gov > Rights > Economic > Life > Innovation > Vision > Futurism > Contributors > Dick Pelletier

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Automated Systems set to steal Teaching, Healthcare, Governing Jobs


Dick Pelletier
By Dick Pelletier
Positive Futurist

Posted: Apr 22, 2012

Experts believe this could be the final straw driving society towards a work-free life From assembly line robots, to ATMs, to self-checkout terminals, each year automated systems take over more jobs formerly held by humans. Now, experts predict that many professional jobs are at risk. Teachers, doctors, and governing officials, could all be replaced by intelligent systems in the near future.

Could teachers become automation’s next victims? Economist Kim Shin-hwan at South Korea’s Hyundai Research Institute says, “By 2015, robots should be able to assist teachers in the classroom. By 2018, they should be able to teach on their own, and this will cause many teachers to lose their jobs.”

Will the quality of education remain the same, or might it even improve with robot teachers? Although the first robot models may appear clumsy and crude, experts predict future versions arriving in the 2020s will be fully capable of performing all the functions of a human teacher, and potentially a lot more.

In healthcare, computer programs are already wielding a positive impact. ‘Smart’ software can now assist doctors with patient diagnosis. An automated system called the Artificial Neural Network helps Mayo Clinic physicians diagnose patients more accurately, and reduces the dangers of human error.

In addition, the much-hyped nanorobots, tiny machines that can whiz through veins replacing aging and damaged cells with new youthful ones, expected by the 2030s, could become the ultimate automated medical tool, keeping patients healthy 24/7, and eliminating much of the need for doctor supervision.

From becoming world chess champions to winning on Jeopardy, artificial intelligence systems are proving they can compete in our world. With electronic systems and robots assuming more and more jobs, even politicians, judges and police may soon join those who’s duties are taken over by automation.

The recent U.S. Congress debate over deficit reduction exposed the inadequacies of human governing. Democrats and Republicans refusing to consider each other’s positions placed America at risk for a lower credit rating assessment, which eventually became reality, causing world financial markets to plunge. Futurists believe an artificial intelligence reasoning system, circa 2040s, would have averted this danger.

Naysayers, though, see allowing machines to make choices for humans as a threat to our dignity. They argue that we should not let computers replace positions such as law makers, judges, or police officers.

However, on a recent PBS News Hour interview, National Science Foundation consultant Pamela McCorduck countered that “I’d rather take my chances with an impartial computer,” referring to conditions where she would prefer to have automated law makers, judges, and police that have no personal agenda.

Cisco Systems analyst Dave Evan predicts that robots with advanced artificial intelligence could one day replace most workers. Although today’s unemployment hovers around 8-to-10 percent, this is mild compared with what we can expect as robots become more mainstream. It is estimated that by 2030, 50 million jobs will be lost to machines, and by 2040, robots could grab more than half of all human jobs.

So what’s the solution? Futurist Marshall Brain in his Robotic Freedom Blog examines the problem and offers suggestions that would provide humanity with all the benefits from tomorrow’s advanced automated systems, while protecting us from the financial devastations of unemployment.

Brain believes that America should create a $25,000 annual stipend for every U.S. adult, which would be phased in incrementally over two-to-three decades. The stipend could be paid for through a variety of possibilities that may include ending welfare programs, levying a tax on automated systems, adding a consumption tax, allowing ads on currency, creating a national lottery, and authorizing a tax on emails.

Equitable wealth distribution such as this stipend, would allow consumers to spend without fear of losing their jobs. This increased spending could drive the economy into its biggest boom ever.

How might people spend their extra time in a world where work is no longer a part of everyday life? Some may further their education. Those who enjoy traveling could visit distant points on Earth, or hop a Virgin Atlantic ship to the ISS; or leave Earth permanently for communities planned on Moon and Mars.

Arrival of human level automated systems marks a transformative time in history. These automatons promise a utopian future as they create an incredible world filled with leisure and adventure for everyone.


Dick Pelletier was a weekly columnist who wrote about future science and technologies for numerous publications. He passed away on July 22, 2014.
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COMMENTS


I do not think that jobs can be “stolen” - contrarily from what most unionists keep on repeating. The rhetorics of “stolen employment” has always represented an inhibiting factor for our social, economical, and technological development. New technological structures have always changed the very structure of human societies, at times dramatically. During and after these social metamorphosis, of course, someone had to revolutionize his or her habitual activities, and someone had even ended up worse off, or permanently unemployed.

From Luddites onwards, countless groups of individuals demanded external protection, special grants, and monopolistic privileges - against destabilizing technological advancements. They wanted to freeze a certain social, and economical structure, to maintain their habitual source of income. This happened not only with poor, manual workers, thanks to their unions. It also happened thanks to cartels of large corporations.

The immorality of protectionist actions stems from their proponents’ desire to force other people NOT TO use certain technologies. Their personal, economic advantages depend structurally on their particular historical role - on the fact that other people count on their services. By blocking the development of a new technology - Luddites of all kinds are almost literally destroying the well-being of the rest of the population, forcing everybody to depend still on them. We should always bear this fact in mind.

In this time of global crisis governments seem to be primarily concerned with high unemployment rates. So, public officials try to keep unemployment rates as low as possible, by funding industrial carcasses, and agonizing sectors. But this might be a very, very dangerous approach. I recommend William Hutt’s contribution on the subject. He demonstrated how a technologically advancing society MUST produce, together with new gizmos, also new unemployed workers. New technologies makes someone’s skills obsolete. So, it is just natural that old lines of productions get dismantled. In the end, overspecialized workers, those whose skills are structurally tied obsolete technologies might not even be able to relocate themselves. There is a risk connected with specialization, and dangerously high risks connected with overspecialization. Those who took their chances, must also bear the consequences of their choices.





I see a future unfolding during this century that could produce a ‘work-free’ world.

Every task that humans perform today will one day be turned over to a more efficient automated system. As we march through the decades ahead with molecular nanotechnology providing much of our household needs – food, medicine, clothing, appliances; even transportation vehicles and homes; first at low costs, later at no costs; our requirements for money will soon disappear.

Bridging into this futuristic scenario could require a temporary stipend as mentioned in the article, but eventually, even this radical solution would not be necessary.

Stipends have proven successful in many countries throughout the world, including Brazil, Mexico, Tanzania, and others. These conditional cash transfer programs increase consumption, lower poverty, and increase school enrollment and use of health services.

As future technologies provide more and more of our human needs, we may see the day when we will consider ourselves a ‘work-free world.’





The sooner the better.





@Dick Pelletier

Sorry, but I really do not think those stipends would be useful. They cannot represent a stable source of income for large segments of the population in a technologically advancing society. That “free” money has two come from somewhere. The options are essentially two. It can be new fiat money, i.e. money created out of thin air by a monetary authority. Or, it can be someone else’s money, obtained trough taxation. This means that all the recipients of those stipends are merely consuming someone else’s capital (the fiat money option), or exploiting someone else’s labor (the taxation option). This is not going to take us very far - especially because you are taking away resources from the most productive and technologically innovative sectors of the economy, just to hand them out to strictly unproductive consumers. You can do it, sure. But not on a large scale, when virtually all uncreative human activities will be performed by automata.

I suggest a different approach. Consider, for example, ancient Mediterranean civilizations. Slaves represented the basis of the structure of those wealthy societies. A citizen, a free man, was not really supposed to work. Of course, his freedom depended on aggressive military actions, predations, and enslavement of entire peoples. But let us imagine that we arrive to the point were robots can be as versatile as human slaves, and possibly more durable. Imagine a single robot that can perform more or less every standard human task for twenty or thirty years. We just imagined a non-human slave. So, we might just be able to replicate the ancient model, without its immoral elements. Who would need a stipend when you can send your robot (the robot you bought) to substitute you at the factory/office? Of course the stipend is a more attractive option for the recipient, because someone else is going to pay it. But that stipend is functionally equivalent to a smashed piece of machinery : it represents a damage for the productive, technological sector of the economy.

My point is that - freedom is an expansive, precious good. You can either buy it with your labor, or steal it with force. In the end, someone must pay its price. In ancient times, slaves and war victims paid that price. Nowadays most people buy some freedom with their work (while war victims abroad, far from sight, still pay their share). Tomorrow we might just predate what robots will be producing - and leave humans (and other animals, hopefully) in peace.





@Andre

Your suggestions might make sense if we were to transplant today’s world into tomorrow’s future; but the future I envision includes technologies, not robots, that provide all human necessities automatically and at little or no cost, thus reducing the need for money.

Molecular nanotechnology; the ability to build things from atoms similar to how life builds its miracles – plants, animals, and us – holds great promise to provide humanity with all its needs. Most experts predict this amazing technology will begin to mature by late 2020s or 2030s.

Today, we are already ‘printing’ goods; even biological parts; using modified ink jet printers; and one day, experts believe, we will have countertop ‘replicators’ that can build nearly anything on command; labor-free and eventually, resource-free.

Our only need for stipends in this positive future would be to serve as a bridge, as automatic systems take over more of our jobs. This isn’t so radical, as we already have a system in place – welfare – to protect the poor. Stipends would only be a temporary measure to protect the unemployed whose jobs have been lost to automation, and they would be easily affordable as commerce begins to fade.

In fact, by the end of the 21st century, a few bold future thinkers believe we could become a commerce-free world. Will this future happen? Comments welcome.





You all make excellent arguments. @Dick, I agree with about 80% of what you have said. @Andre, while you have some good observations, there are more problems with your argument. Flaws on both sides have their root in how any such system functions economically.

The primary problem, is the assumption that at some point production does not require human labor, and as Peter Diamandis believes we are on the verge of creating great abundance. In that scenario, the value of things will plummet, including the value of labor. If an automated factory can churn out a million flawless widgets per day, and a person using human labor can produce 1 unit per day, what is the value of that human labor? It is going to approach zero. Another problem is the use of a robot as a surrogate laborer, much as of owning of slave labor. Robots will become a commodity, while human slaves are not. Why would the producer of goods hire your robot to do work, when they can just buy their own robot, and amortize the cost? The market for hired robot labor as a surrogate will never appear.

Now, Dick. As for the use of a stipend, you did say temporary so I will give you credit for that, because there are some very big challenges that will prevent that method from working long term. The number one problem is that it must come from somewhere as Andre stated. Most likely, the source will be some form of taxation to retrieve the excess productivity from automation so that it can be redistributed. Such a tax will be a burden on the producers of goods. Even in today’s world, the producers of goods, the owners of capital arguably have near absolute control of the government. Their only restraint on control is to maintain an image of democracy and prevent a popular uprising. That will be so much more the case in a few decades as corporations consolidate their political power as the sole holders of wealth that every elected politician depends upon to maintain their position. They will therefore resist a tax on their productivity with all their might, and there will be no one with the power to stop them. Just as they fight today to eliminate the small safety nets we provide the poor, they will make those same arguments tomorrow with renewed vigor.

The other problem I have with the stipend (or any guaranteed basic income), is that it creates a permanent lower class. Those who receive the stipend will have a fixed standard of living, determined by those who possess all of the wealth. Think of what it was like for the sharecroppers in the South who became dependent on the cotton plantation owner to provide for their needs. They were free technically, but suffered greatly at the whims of the plantation owner. In addition, that was in an economy where the plantation owner depended on their labor. Once the owner obtained new technology that could harvest their cotton, they kicked all those sharecroppers off the farm. What leverage will future citizens be able to bring to bear against the owners of production to keep them fed and clothed with their stipend? To have consumers, and maintain the consumption economy, you say. In the absence of a need for human labor, the consumer become unnecessary also. Why take from profits just to create a consumer to buy your goods and produce profits. The whole cycle of using the consumer may be seen as inefficient, a waste. The owners will say, why not eliminate the tax/consumer cycle, reduce production to their personal needs, and eliminate the consumer altogether. That sounds like a horrible thing to happen, but think about it. The owner of production has no stake in keeping any people around that do not provide something positive in return. It is what will happen.

If not a stipend, and not robot slaves working for us to make a living, what then? The ultimate goal must be toward a Resource Based Economy as described by Marshal Brain in the second half of his book ‘Manna’, which can be read free here: http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

A major problem, as a few critics of a Resource Based Economy on this site have pointed out, is how do we achieve such a complete transformation without great upheaval or hardship? Making the transition evokes visions of the Bolshevik revolution 100 years ago; revoking the right to own private property, and enslaving the population with a totalitarian government. I believe there is a way we can get there on a voluntary basis, with no coercion, or totalitarian governments. This is where the stipend may be a temporary measure that permits society to continue to function a little longer on a monetary system while we work this out and develop a transition. We could set up special economic zones, where new cities can be built. These new cities could experiment with RBE techniques to determine what works and what does not work as they continue to automate all labor. People could move to the new cities on a voluntary basis, or leave if they wish.  No one is forced.  There are many details that I’m glossing over for the sake of brevity: for example how to maintain a democracy, promote freedom, and fairly provide for everybody.

Why would the current political order permit such an experiment to take place on their soil? Unemployment. Every citizen in the new city is one less person competing for fewer and fewer jobs in that nation’s monetary economy. It gets people out of the economy, therefore it reduces the states cost for support. In fact there is a high likelihood that the new cities will rapidly become massive producers of green energy which could be traded to the outside for resource that are not available inside the cities.

The problem we will face in the future will be that there are a lot more people than jobs. Increasing national debt means that the country cannot afford the expenditure needed to support those in need, and corporations will fight higher taxation. Each city in this special zone will be like an island where the excess population can migrate, taking the pressure of the old capitalist economy as it declines more gracefully. Eventually the population in these special zones will exceed the population of those left on the outside. The owners of production cannot control people in the zones because those people have become self-sufficient with their own automation. Let the owners of production eventually reduce the population they support to zero, no harm, as the people all become citizens of the RBE economy.





@Kelly Balthrop,

Your logic seems accurate and quite reasonable, especially considering how today’s humans might react to this radical future.

However, I prefer to multi-track the future. That is, to consider the effects of every science and technology advancement as we progress through the decades ahead.

Indefinite lifespan could be achieved by the 2030s, and even more important, unraveling the mysteries of human consciousness, which some predict could happen by the 2040s. These breakthroughs will be followed by non-biological neuron enhancements, which promise to increase intelligence and speed our thoughts by billions.

As we trek though the second half of the 21st century, society could become as different from 2012 humans as we are to our cave-dweller ancestors.

Add advancing molecular nanotechnology, which by mid-century could provide the resources to support up to 100 billion humans comfortably, and we see a future unfolding beyond the wildest imaginings of science fiction.

In this futuristic environment, it’s easy for this writer to imagine humanity transforming into a peaceful, technology-enabled global village – commerce free – ready to scatter its populations to the stars.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that the future will unfold in this positive way, but the opportunities are there.

Comments welcome.





I agree that if given the chance, we will eventually evolve to probably merge in some way with our technology. I not as hopeful however, that we can get there before the current socio-economic Capitalist system suffers a serious collapse. Being in my mid-fifties, I just hope they get they get the growing old bug fixed in our software in time, so I can see how it all turns out.





You’re right, Kelly. Serious challenges face humanity in its drive towards achieving a positive future.

However, things like weak economy, unemployment, and rogue nation threats may not be the most disastrous struggles we face. I believe convincing the world that a radical future is about to transform our lives may be our biggest challenge.

Most of our mainstream world does not believe that artificial general intelligence will one day surpass humans in thinking ability, nor are they aware that conquering death has an excellent chance of becoming reality within their lifetime.

But promising events indicate that this barrier will not last forever. Last Friday, the PBS News Hour interviewed several members of a recent Singularity University Conference, talking about many of our futuristic topics; and more and more sites like this IEET group are attracting new readers. The dream continues!

Regarding older people surviving to enjoy this future, Kurzweil believes that by 2020, affordable biotech upgrades will be available to add more than one year of life expectancy every year.

I suggest the following plan to keep yourself in line for these therapies: Maintain the best health and exercise regimen you can, and then wait for new technologies to give you a boost. Grab a life-expectancy calculator and find out what year you could die. Then become aware of the technologies available that year, which would rejuvenate your body, enabling you to live an extended lifespan.





@Kelly Balthrop
“Robots will become a commodity, while human slaves are not.”

You make several good points, however I disagree with part of your analysis.  First, human slaves have always been a commodity, they have more or less the same rights that cattle have - and cattle is a capitalistic commodity by definition (and etymology).

“Why would the producer of goods hire your robot to do work, when they can just buy their own robot, and amortize the cost?”

This would be true only if producers could count on an infinite amount of capital, or credit. This is obviously false. Also, if your statement was correct there would be no leasing/renting/loaning enterprise in the market. Who would pay a rent for something, when they buy, own, and amortize costs?

So, I maintain that there is no logical impossibility in my scenario. It is difficult to know which kind of technology will be developed on mass scale even in the near future. So nobody can make particularly accurate predictions in the field. However, I insist that labor is not a commodity, and is not something particularly necessary for the functioning of a developed societies. Alternatives strategies are possible, I think





“Our only need for stipends in this positive future would be to serve as a bridge, as automatic systems take over more of our jobs. This isn’t so radical, as we already have a system in place – welfare – to protect the poor. Stipends would only be a temporary measure to protect the unemployed whose jobs have been lost to automation, and they would be easily affordable as commerce begins to fade”

Yes!

In a closed system, using the fiat money system or even an equivalent credit/points system should work. It is only when monies/capital are drained out of the “closed economic system”, (global market), that hyper-inflation leads to potential economic catastrophe?

Presently the sound bite and method applied by global banks to overcome world recession is “Quantitive easing”, which is just a PC way of applying controlled inflation, without admitting this and devaluing nation credit status - yet this is still inflation, this is still printing monies non-the-less?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantitative_easing


Problem is.. the world is now a “globalized economic community”, with no one nation serving the needs of its peoples nor exclusive use of planetary resources, so no nation can apply this stipend, (Basic Income Guarantee), without capital filtering out abroad - leading to hyper-inflation?

“Now, Dick. As for the use of a stipend, you did say temporary so I will give you credit for that, because there are some very big challenges that will prevent that method from working long term. The number one problem is that it must come from somewhere as Andre stated. Most likely, the source will be some form of taxation to retrieve the excess productivity from automation so that it can be redistributed.”

The best way out of a recession is to spend and invest your way out?

Purchase tax is the ideal way to provide revenues for central government, the provision of basic needs for infrastructure and human needs, and stimulus for credit/start-up loans for business and technological enterprise?

If central government inflates, (prints monies), to provide for the stipend, (Basic income guarantee), beyond merely welfare/state support, the increase in spending power, flows of capital and free market stimulus should create demand, leading to increased innovation, enterprise and supply for this demand?

There are many other ways to retrieve taxes, basically from any transaction where monies change hands, are transferred, taxation may be introduced, (the Tobin tax is also an example).

Certainly, if there is no employment, and no wage prospect for the future anyhow, then income taxation is no longer a viable means of collecting taxation to support mass unemployment and infrastructure? With a stipend applied, (even to supplement those that are still in employment), income tax on wage can be removed altogether, pleasing most libertarians, venture capitalists and further stimulating enterprise and business start-up?

The ideal must be to prevent the “boom and bust” cycles by ensuring capital flows are maintained at all times and that market stimulus perpetuates, this way businesses do not fail unnecessarily and without due reason, and not just merely because customers/demands fall, and loans/mortgages are repossessed?

Some questions to reason with..

1. How do you stop stipend and capital leaving the “closed system”, possibly through corruption, market/commodities manipulation, (hey they got loads of money over there! Let’s stitch ‘em up for every coffee bean?), criminal cartels and drugs runners/money, or at very least through tourism, (as folks decide to spend their stipend abroad?), Tax havens etc

Legislation must be introduced to prevent greed and avarice through markets commodity fixing, although the price of all goods and services within an inflated system will rise, at least in the short term, (until the technology drives the cost and price of these downwards?)

2. How do you stimulate folks to get out of bed in the morning, or will they just get fed up with shopping, spend too much time submerged in stuff and activities they’ve already purchased, and not bother and fail to stimulate the free market capital flows that are required to support business, enterprise and innovation and the economic system?

One solution is stimulation of market entertainment and physical activities, which are non-commodity goods, yet use/deplete energy and resources non-the-less? Taxation of leisure activities may be used to stimulate innovation and market enterprise by the return of stipend revenues to business and governments, (Democrat donkey rides)? These activities would also help prevent stagnation and physical and mental health problems, and hopefully prevent a culture of ill health through the pursuit of “more healthy” endeavours?

2. How do prevent inflation leading to hyper-consumerism and possible sociocultural problems which backfire?

Like any control system, strategy and negative feedback mechanisms are essential to “smooth” overshoots for goals, ideals and setpoint?

3. What if people just “sit on their stipend” and do not help provide market stimulus?

Regardless of whether you spend your stipend, (basic income guarantee), or not, the funds/entitlement will return to source, (to government), for redistribution - think, effectively at the end of every financial tax/reconciliation year/term - unused stipend is both retrieved and redistributed - effectively all stipend monies, (electronically accountable), are reset?

Therefore, and once again, it does not matter if the stipend is not spent, as the revenue still returns to source - “within a closed system”, (refer once again top priority number one above!)

I am still contemplating problems and solutions for international trade of goods and resources, but have not yet thought these through properly, (however, a hint is that in a technocracy, innovation and expertise will be a highly prized export commodity by the rest of the globe, including and especially, healthcare innovations leading to human longevity?)

Eventually the use of this stipend will.. overcome suffering due to increased and mass unemployment, provide for all basic human needs and more, end poverty and ease disparity, improve quality of life for all, end wage servitude, disvalue of self worth and ease depression/neuroses in unemployed humans, and provide a perpetual market stimulus to overcome the present Capitalism cycles of “boom and bust”, as hopefully the market pertaining to supply and demand never, ever, fails?

How much stipend monies do we provide peoples with? You decide.. as Dick has hinted a tiered introduction, (to avoid unnecessary inflationary market pressures), would be practicable. One could imagine a bell curve of slow introduction, leading to greater market stimulus/spending power, leading to decreased need for stipend revenues as technology and automation drives the price of goods and services downwards?


“In fact, by the end of the 21st century, a few bold future thinkers believe we could become a commerce-free world. Will this future happen? Comments welcome.”

Hope so! The goal is to provide market stimulus and increased enterprise and innovation for a technocracy where there is no need for monies at all?





@CygnnusX1, you are on the right track with your analysis of how the Stipend/GBI may be used to create a transition. I only have a few concerns:

>“Purchase tax is the ideal way to provide revenues for central government, the provision of basic needs for infrastructure and human needs, and stimulus for credit/start-up loans for business and technological enterprise?”<

Whether you call it a purchase tax, sales tax or transaction tax, it is the same thing; a tax on the consumption of goods. Such a tax is regressive, in that it places a greater proportionate burden on the poor than on the wealthy. Now, if the bulk of the population is in this same income category then they are all equal in that regard, but there is still a huge hole. The problem is that the owners of production will be receiving a higher and higher proportion of the world’s commerce as their personal income because of productivity gains; income, which may no longer be taxed at all. They would consume goods at a small fraction of their income, saving the rest.

The wealthy savings effect can be seen even today because of lower taxes on capital gains give no incentive to reinvest gains, rather they take it out of the company as income, with the result that those excessive savings are being used in speculative investments such as oil and wheat driving up prices all over the world. This pooling of money at the top, effectively takes that money out of useful economic circulation for the bulk of the population. The funds available for a stipend would shrivel, requiring more economic easing to increase the money supply. That cycle is not sustainable and rapidly becomes unstable.

An alternative to the consumption tax is needed; though I don’t have a recommendation of what else to use.





@CygnusX1

You describe the issues quite accurately.

How effective are stipends? Brazil probably boasts the most successful program today. From 2003 to 2009, the income of poor Brazilians grew seven times more than the income of rich Brazilians. Poverty has fallen during that time from 22 percent of the population to 7 percent.

Contrast this with the U.S., where from 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the increase in Americans’ income went to the top 1 percent of earners. Productivity among low and middle-income American workers increased, but their incomes did not. If current trends continue, the U.S. may soon be more unequal than Brazil.

The World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank are working with individual governments to spread these programs around the globe, providing technical help and loans. Conditional cash transfer programs are now found in 14 countries in Latin America and some 26 other countries. Each program is tailored to local conditions. Some in Latin America emphasize nutrition; Tanzania is experimenting with conditioning payments on a community’s behavior.

Stipends fight poverty in two ways. One is straightforward: it gives money to the poor. This works. And no, the money tends not to be stolen or diverted to the better-off. The other purpose is to give children more education and better health.

Although stipends can prove valuable in today’s world, in tomorrow’s world – let’s say from the 2040s on – science and technology advances promise to deliver a world filled with abundance for all and an enhanced human, living life radically different from today’s hum-drum world.

I can easily envision a future where all commerce has disappeared. A world without money interfering with our happiness. Humanity deserves nothing less!

Comments welcome.





@ Kelly.. thanks for important points


“Whether you call it a purchase tax, sales tax or transaction tax, it is the same thing; a tax on the consumption of goods. Such a tax is regressive, in that it places a greater proportionate burden on the poor than on the wealthy.”

I do not believe a purchase tax is regressive. In the model I proposed the “closed system” relies upon revenues, via taxation returning to source for redistribution - on the premise that the “priority” is that capital flows are maintained continuously to prevent “boom and bust” cycles and market, supply and demand downturn. The resultant ideal is that investment, innovation and enterprise thrives and guides towards an envisioned technocracy?

The purchase tax, or moreover, transaction tax for every occurrence where monies change hands is not only essential, it is crucial?


“The problem is that the owners of production will be receiving a higher and higher proportion of the world’s commerce as their personal income because of productivity gains; income, which may no longer be taxed at all. They would consume goods at a small fraction of their income, saving the rest.”

Yes this is problematic. Let’s just assume this “closed system” is a nation here for the argument, (the rest of the technocratic world society will be unified under a closed economic or post-scarcity/non-monetary system eventually, and hopefully all nations will strive for envisioned technocracy?)

“Every” citizen, (above legal/responsible age), employed or not, receives the stipend, and not merely as a basic welfare contribution as we have now, but to participate in free market support, which drives investment in technological innovation towards the post-scarcity society, (where there will eventually be no need for the stipend as goods and services will be free at source, beginning with basic needs and sundries, the “right to internet access” and increasing broadband speeds for leisure and education being just “one” example?) This stipend income is provided by the central government (benefactor/bank combined), in return for citizen participation and adherence to social contract - in the same manner as we utilise today.

Ah.. but then what is the incentive for humans to work or strive, or for will to action at all? This is a somewhat philosophical point of argument, and my premise is that humans strive for not only money and financial reward, but for endeavour and status, and yes, fame and power also. “Randian Objectivism”? perhaps so.. yet we need to encourage meritocracy and most importantly reward effort - so those that strive for society/for themselves must receive reward, be it financial remuneration or other reward sanctioned by the “central government benefactor” (the government/bank benefactor)?

Without digressing too far, please note also that there are many other forms of reward other than monies - real estate location and healthcare privileges, citizenry status, (without implied cronyism and abuses of political power and status), I’m sure you can imagine for yourself all kinds of rewards pertaining to human sociological needs?

So let us assume that an entrepreneur has applied for funds from the central government benefactor, (or private business consortium residing within the “closed system”), has made his business case, and receives budgeted funds to start his business? He may wish to employ humans to assist and pay them wages “above and beyond” their guaranteed stipend income, (again I am making an assumption that humans do want to “work” for goals and ideals, learning, education, and personal development?)

His innovation and commodity becomes successful, citizens use their stipend to flock to buy it, (purchase tax flows back to the source and market stability is maintained), costs of production, energy and resources used are reconciled, and there is “profit” or capital gains left over to be shared or re-invested in further innovation, or for investment in other business enterprise etc.

Savings? Indeed these may be viewed/deemed as monies stagnant and idle and as removed from the “closed system”. So there must be capital gains taxation for funds remaining idle, and one measure may be that savings are only permitted where they are reinvested in business and innovation for the benefit of society, (once again monies returning to source in the “closed system”?) Tax havens and laundering monies abroad must be outlawed, and limits in purchase for goods, real estate abroad must be imposed, (in the same manner that lottery winners are not permitted to abscond with winnings abroad without heavy taxation?)

What would John Galt profess? “This is my effort, my profit, my money, you shall not have it?” Yet the “flaw” in Randian objectivism is that no man is an island, and that we all stand on the shoulders of giants? We are not born educated nor skilled, and our rewards in life, (profits and savings), should be viewed as within the ideals of striving for the benefit of not only ourselves, but for humanity as a whole, (towards envisioned technocracy and post-scarcity society)? My point is that socioeconomic Capitalism philosophy will require re-examination within this “closed system” where citizens no longer need to “save” for future welfare and pensions, nor strive for status and power to overcome adversity and protect from poverty, because the philosophy and social politic is that a stipend is provided as a means and basic right of every citizen.. and in return each citizen will contribute..?

Market competition, (human competitiveness), is still necessary within the context of striving for personal goals, success and to support meritocracy, (and innovation), yet still this market competition, rather than being exploited by corporations as we have presently for position and power, may be guided towards the collective and cooperative goals and ideal of technocracy?

Competitiveness + Cooperation = symbiosis?

Is this all a bit too much Gene Roddenberry? Maybe? .. it’s all in my head, (doh!), my dreams? But I watch these dreams frequently on my dvd’s at home? The ideal is not mine alone? The ideas are not “solely” mine by revelation, they appear in my mind from others, from elsewhere, and for the benefit of sharing?

Checkout this presentation for “Universal Basic Income” .. and note my previous comments there also!

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/basicincome20120129


@ Dick.. Thanks for your comment, I was unaware of these successes. I think all governments and world citizens are beginning to realise that in the coming age of mass unemployment, a basic welfare support will not be sufficient to provide for human needs either physically, (healthcare included), nor psychologically.

I think we all here at IEET are on the same page with regards to views towards the ideal of techno-progress and technocracy, and provision for humanities future and prosperity.


Apologies for the length of this comment - and thanks for reading





@CygnusX1,

You said:
I do not believe a purchase tax is regressive. In the model I proposed the “closed system” relies upon revenues, via taxation returning to source for redistribution - on the premise that the “priority” is that capital flows are maintained continuously to prevent “boom and bust” cycles and market, supply and demand downturn. The resultant ideal is that investment, innovation and enterprise thrives and guides towards an envisioned technocracy?

Unless you tax high-end items at a different rate, how is a purchase tax not regressive? Lets say I receive $10,000 per year as a stipend, and spend $9,000 on goods, paying the other $1,000 in tax. I am paying of my income in tax to support the system. Another person owns a company and receives 10,000,000/year from profit. They have a better lifestyle but still only manage to spend $1,000,000 on goods and paying $100,000 in tax. They are only paying 1% of their income in tax to support the system.

The other $9,000,000 gets invested/saved. That $9,000,000 just was removed from circulation. Sure, some will filter down as commissions on investments, and some may find its way into the capital available for a company to expand, but that takes time, as there will be a large lag in time where that money is out of circulation for consumption, lowering demand, which then reduces the need for the producers to expand.

One possible solution, which is more radical, is an additional tax on personal property. This would be a progressive tax on personal assets, including cash and investments. It would place an effective cap on becoming too wealthy, creating instability in the economy, while still permitting one to excel. An example may look something like:

Assuming everyone gets ~ $100,000/family stipend: Tax on personal assets
<100,000 5% tax
100,001 – 500,000 10%
500,001 – 1,000,000 15%
1,000,001 – 10,000,000 %
>50,000,000 P

This would create in an incentive to live a simpler lifestyle and prevent excessive accumulation of wealth. It would also create an incentive not to own assets, which will make the switch to Technocracy easier. Your ability to get richer would depend on your ability to make your wealth earn a higher return than the rate of taxation. If you receive let’s say $100,00 per year stipend under this system, and you spend $50,000 on consumption like food and travel, then invested the other 50,000 in your residence, your assets would then be valued $50,000, and taxed at 5% or $2,500 each while they live there.

A property owner who invests in a $100,000 house for renting it out will pay $5,000 per year in tax, and so will need more than that to create a return on investment. $800 per month might be reasonable.

I will admit I am just throwing this out there off the top of my head; I have not looked at the dynamics or psychological impacts on society, or the impact on markets and prices. It would certainly come under extreme resistance from those who hold power now. However, it is less severe that an immediate transfer to Technocracy which has no property rights.





I appologise, the editor here does not like certain %-character combinations and removes them when you do a cut and paste, so my text has a few spots that appear to be missing something.





A few corrections to fix % symbols:

@CygnusX1,

You said
I do not believe a purchase tax is regressive. In the model I proposed the “closed system” relies upon revenues, via taxation returning to source for redistribution - on the premise that the “priority” is that capital flows are maintained continuously to prevent “boom and bust” cycles and market, supply and demand downturn. The resultant ideal is that investment, innovation and enterprise thrives and guides towards an envisioned technocracy?

Unless you tax high-end items at a different rate, how is a purchase tax not regressive? Lets say I receive $10,000 per year as a stipend, and spend $9,000 on goods, paying the other $1,000 in tax. I am paying 10% of my income in tax to support the system. Another person owns a company and receives 10,000,000/year from profit. They have a better lifestyle but still only manage to spend $1,000,000 on goods and paying $100,000 in tax. They are only paying 1% of their income in tax to support the system.

The other $9,000,000 gets invested/saved. That $9,000,000 just was removed from circulation. Sure, some will filter down as commissions on investments, and some may find its way into the capital available for a company to expand, but that takes time, as there will be a large lag in time where that money is out of circulation for consumption, lowering demand, which then reduces the need for the producers to expand.

One possible solution, which is more radical, is an additional tax on personal property. This would be a progressive tax on personal assets, including cash and investments. It would place an effective cap on becoming too wealthy, creating instability in the economy, while still permitting one to excel. An example may look something like:

Assuming everyone gets ~ $100,000/family stipend: Tax on personal assets
<100,000 5% tax
100,001 – 500,000 10%
500,001 – 1,000,000 15%
1,000,001 – 10,000,000 25%
>50,000,000 50%

This would create in an incentive to live a simpler lifestyle and prevent excessive accumulation of wealth. It would also create an incentive not to own assets, which will make the switch to Technocracy easier. Your ability to get richer would depend on your ability to make your wealth earn a higher return than the rate of taxation. If you receive let’s say $100,00 per year stipend under this system, and you spend $50,000 on consumption like food and travel, then invested the other 50,000 in your residence, your assets would then be valued $50,000, and taxed at 5% or $2,500 each while they live there.

A property owner who invests in a $100,000 house for renting it out will pay $5,000 per year in tax, and so will need more than that to create a return on investment. $800 per month might be reasonable.

I will admit I am just throwing this out there off the top of my head; I have not looked at the dynamics or psychological impacts on society, or the impact on markets and prices. It would certainly come under extreme resistance from those who hold power now. However, it is less severe that an immediate transfer to Technocracy which has no property rights.





@ Kelly..

“Unless you tax high-end items at a different rate, how is a purchase tax not regressive?”

There is in fact no reason why high-end or luxury goods cannot be taxed at a different rate? And used to avoid/offset the effects of inflation, these transaction taxes can be continually adjusted – after all, what does it matter to you how much money a commodity costs if you are receiving your annual stipend income from the central government benefactor whom is continually readjusting transaction, (purchase), tax levies to achieve as close to sum zero return as possible, and to reconcile the “closed system”?

The reason I am continually using parenthesis here is to highlight, is that this economic model will fail if monies and capital leak out and do not return to source, (this includes monies hoarded and absconded abroad into real estate and tax havens). Of course no national economic model can be totally isolated from globalisation and international trade for commodities and resources, so there must be legislation used to protect against market commodity fixing, as well as initiative towards ensuring that GDP is maintained. Also national debt still needs to be paid back within negotiated international terms.

As I hinted above, the goods, services and innovation/knowledge achieved through technological enterprise will be a highly prized export commodity? (although obviously even nations outside of any such “closed system” will also be aspiring towards and achieving similar levels of innovation – this is merely the reality of free market competition).

Here in the UK purchase tax, (Value Added Tax – VAT), is currently 20% on most items, up from 17.5%, (Gordon Brown, previous UK PM decreased this level to 15% to stimulate retail growth before the Conservative party became elected – this did not work however, and it should have been obvious that peoples would not spend in an uncertain climate of growing redundancy, unemployment and mortgage liability). We also have energy tax here charged at 5% Other European countries have even higher purchase tax rates?

This purchase tax is effectively a “property tax” which you pay up front? So I do not believe you should pay tax twice for items or services purchased. I do believe however, that tax should be paid/acquired through every transaction where monies and capital change hands – thus all is transaction tax in reality?

The principality of Monaco applies high property tax, with no income taxed, (hence a tax haven). Yet their infrastructure is supported by workers from outside travelling each day into Monaco, these peoples cannot afford to live in Monaco with such high property taxation?

“They have a better lifestyle but still only manage to spend $1,000,000 on goods and paying $100,000 in tax. They are only paying 1% of their income in tax to support the system.”

Not necessarily so, as any profits will be required to be reinvested in further enterprise and innovation, and infrastructure, (enforced by legislation – invest it or you lose it?) and aimed towards/encouraging the technocracy. Capital Investments may be applied immediately towards projects, I don’t see why monies and capital should reside in accounts accumulating orchestrated market interest rates without being applied directly and swiftly towards infrastructure and innovation?

And once again, there are many types of rewards for effort and to conciliate success and profit? Hoarding of capital? – what is the point of this in an envisioned society aimed towards building mega green technologically advanced cities? Such a reward for obliged investment may be the priority of receiving prestige accommodation within such a city which you helped contribute to build with your own profit? (And I am not suggesting here replacing one plutocracy with yet another, nor sanction of the wealthy alone in the benefit of such infrastructure. The technocracy will be for the benefit of all, and I believe the way towards it is to ensure that capital flows and investments are always maintained as priority?)

“One possible solution, which is more radical, is an additional tax on personal property. This would be a progressive tax on personal assets, including cash and investments. It would place an effective cap on becoming too wealthy, creating instability in the economy, while still permitting one to excel”

Yes, your ideas for tiered tax levies seem reasonable. I’m glad to see you suggested a high stipend income of $100,000 pa. Because it is these types of levels that will be required to continually and artificially stimulate capital flows and market stability? Again, if your income originates from the central government benefactor, what worry do you have if purchase tax rates on certain luxury commodities are as high as 50% ?

Land Value Tax also seems a worthy application and methodology as proposed here at IEET by Edward Miller, although I do not think it can be successful in application alone? Tiered rates of property tax could be applied to apartments and condominiums in prestige green mega cities for the successful? Here, Leasehold property could replace Freehold property and landlords altogether, and profit applied to prestige rent for the wealthy? What would this imagined technocracy, infrastructure, intelligently controlled living environments and stability be worth to you? How much of your profits would you be willing to pay to reside in these imagined habitats?

As long as monies return to source for circulation, redistribution, (central government benefactor), it matters not how they are applied?

As I am writing this Sky news has announced that the world’s wealthiest have increased their total accumulated wealth to over $414 billion during the current recession, up 4.7% on last year? Our socioeconomic philosophy must change, yet the coercion must be one of convincing these wealthy that reinvestment towards a technocracy is not only worthy but logical, (and I’m certain these folks are not stupid)? Currently status and power seem to be intrinsically linked within our capitalist model, and it’s up for purchase with capital and monies – this philosophy needs to change as amicably as possible and to the benefit of society as a whole. Investment towards technocracy seems the rationale to achieve this accord?

“This would create in an incentive to live a simpler lifestyle and prevent excessive accumulation of wealth. It would also create an incentive not to own assets, which will make the switch to Technocracy easier.”

We need not live simpler lifestyles, albeit more healthy and peaceful and secure within a more efficient technological environment? But you’re correct, in such a future society what is the need for increased accumulated wealth?

A side note regarding stipend incomes and market stimulus leading to “hyper-consumerism” and human sociocultural problems..

Using the bell curve analogy once more, we may well see increase or hyper-consumerism arise and peak before technology drives goods prices down to free at source, and no doubt there will be social issues/concerns that need to be addressed? Yet I do feel that once peoples realise that the “stipend is guaranteed” to support their needs, then this “rush” and “overindulgence” to acquire goods, commodities, services and entertainment will quickly subside?

Stimulation of the housing market and the needs of peoples either to purchase or rent accommodation is but one way to offset stipend income towards purchase of sundry goods and squandering on needless items, and on gambling etc. (although even casino’s may be key players in the circulation of revenues back to source?)

Illicit and illegal drugs and narcotics marketing will need to be addressed. One way is to legalise all non-lethal drugs, (how can you sanction the legal use of drugs that kill so easily with overdose, and which may be used for malice, murder or cause death by misadventure? – yet even this is open for further argument and debate?) The main priority is that drugs cartels are not drawing monies and capital abroad and illegally from the “closed system”, ( more “Holes in buckets”)?





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