We regularly read about how artificial intelligence and robotics are going to do all the work, threatening our livelihoods and leaving us with no source of income.
We hear that jobs aren’t safe and some very obvious questions present themselves.
Such as: how will companies survive if consumers have no way to pay for their products and services? Or put the same question another way: how are consumers going to pay for the products and services companies offer?
Universal basic income
Fortunately, it’s not only you and me that have been plagued by this technology induced conundrum. Several prominent leaders like Bill Gates and others have suggested that governments provide citizens with a universal basic income — a basic sum of money — to support their livelihood.
Finland is the first country to experiment with this idea. Finland has piloted a universal basic income scheme to pay its unemployed citizens an unconditional monthly sum and Scotland is also considering the idea as governments around the world are coming under the impression of the major industrial and commercial changes AI and robotics will herald.
That’s the first sign that we won’t need to worry about money in the future. This scenario is some years off in the future, but the second is already happening.
Dr. Peter Diamandis, Co-founder and Chairman of Singularity University, says demonetization, the ability of technology to take a product or service that was previously expensive and make it substantially cheaper or potentially free, will cause the cost of living to drop dramatically.
In his blog he reminds readers of the demonetization of photography. Remember? You had to buy the camera and film and pay for the development. Today the camera comes with your phone and no film or developing is involved.
The same goes for international phone calls that have been replaced by Skype and other apps; Netflix has replaced the cinema; YouTube has replaced music videos and all sorts of entertainment; Google has become a huge research library; Expedia has demonetized travel agencies and the list goes on.
Just look at what comes free with our smartphones: a camera; a video camera; a CD player, a stereo, a video game console, a cellphone, a watch, an alarm clock, a set of encyclopedias, a world atlas, a Thomas guide, which if you had to buy them, would add up to thousands of dollars.
This is just the small stuff; there is more.
Diamandis breaks down how consumers spend their money into these seven categories: transportation, food, healthcare, housing, energy, education and entertainment and shows how each of these will experience rapid demonetization.
Take transportation for instance. Once autonomous cars take to the roads, we won’t have to buy cars, insure them, pay for fuel or to have them serviced and parking tickets and traffic fines will be something of the past.
Diamandis has co-authored the New York Times bestseller Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think, which provides a positive peek into an exciting future.
He calls this new area where technology takes care of our lives and demonetize living costs, “technological socialism”.
It’s probably a while yet, but it looks like eventually we won’t need to work in order to earn an income in order to buy things and services ad infinitum.