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Aristotle was clearly a futurist. In his Politics he says: “If every instrument could accomplish its own work … if … the shuttle would weave and the plectrum touch the lyre without a hand to guide them, chief workmen would not want servants, nor masters slaves.”
Aristotle saw that the human condition largely depends on what machines can and cannot do, and we can imagine that machines will do much more of our work in the future. How then would Aristotle respond to today’s technology?
What happens to the steel mill and auto factory workers, to the butchers and bank tellers, and, increasingly, to the accountants, professors, lawyers, engineers, and physicians when artificial intelligence improves?
So a question we now face is: what happens to the extra people—which will soon be almost all of us—when technology does all the work or the remaining work is unpaid? Do we need to completely re-think our economic goals? Do we need a universal basic income (UBI)? If robots do most of the work, then this frees people to: choose their own creative projects, and use their free time as they see fit. We need not be slaves to the 40 hour work week, which is “the antithesis of freedom.”
How should we think about the work that machines can’t do. If we don’t care about human expression in art, literature, music, theatre, sport or philosophy, then why care about the people who produce it?
Universal Basic Income: For: http://www.basicincome.org.uk/reasons-support-basic-income and against: https://www.ft.com/content/100137b4-0cdf-11e8-bacb-2958fde95e5e