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AI and Universal Basic Income: Cause and Consequence / By: Flavia Michelan

“Prompting” is the word being used nowadays to explain Artificial Intelligence. It is the input of a code that is able to do critical thinking for humans. In the past, such a statement would generate panic, but the fallacy of a machine taking over human jobs has been proven wrong decades ago. The same was said about the wheel, sewing machines, the industrial treadmill, cars, telephones, and computers. The misconception of machines replacing humans is not something that scares us anymore. Throughout history, we have learned that the only real implication of a machine increasing productivity is the expansion of an economy. More intellectual jobs are going to replace manual labor and the economy is going to adjust.

The key word, “prompting”, explains how the new wave of AI is different. When we use Google to “search” information, “searching” implies that the thinking part is in charge of the process; however, “prompting” means something different. Oxford Dictionary defines “prompting” as “the action of saying something to persuade”. This implies that the human says something to persuade but the machine is in charge of the critical thinking itself. 

We are talking about a new world that is already changing before our eyes. The Hollywood strike showed us that every sector is feeling threatened by AI in the near future. So many are wondering, “What is going to happen to us?” According to a report by Goldman Sachs, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have “a major impact on employment markets around the world” and could replace the approximately “300 million full-time jobs” (Goldman Sachs, 2023). Because of this belief, it has been suggested that there is no other alternative other than implementing a system of Universal Basic Income (UBI). A UBI is a concept where the government regularly pays every adult citizen the same amount of money. This concept should be implemented alongside artificial intelligence in order to maintain human livelihood in a world that is powered by AI

According to Annie Lowrey, author of the bestselling book, Give People Money- How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World, “about 41 million Americans live below the poverty line and a $1000-a month would push many of them above it” (Lowrey, 2018). One approach to understanding UBI is not to look at it as a way to eliminate work but to eliminate jobs, to let the machines do the unintelligible jobs and leave humans free to work and create. According to Andy Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union and a UBI booster, says “a tsunami is coming, maybe someone should figure out if we have some storm shutters around.” 





List of resources and interviews:

Resources: Lowrey, Annie. GIVE PEOPLE MONEY: HOW A UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME WOULD END POVERTY, REVOLUTIONIZE WORK, AND REMAKE THE WORLD. Crown Publishing Group, 2018.

Interview: Poluru, Sudheer. Personal Interview. Second of August, 2023

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