Massive Technological Unemployment Without Redistribution: A Case for Cautious Optimism

Science and Engineering Ethics:1-19 (forthcoming)
Bartek Chomanski
Northeastern University
This paper argues that even though massive technological unemployment will likely be one of the results of automation, we will not need to institute mass-scale redistribution of wealth (such as would be involved in, e.g., instituting universal basic income) to deal with its consequences. Instead, reasons are given for cautious optimism about the standards of living the newly unemployed workers may expect in the (almost) fully-automated future. It is not claimed that these predictions will certainly bear out. Rather, they are no less likely to come to fruition than the predictions of those authors who predict that massive technological unemployment will lead to the suffering of the masses on such a scale that significant redistributive policies will have to be instituted to alleviate it. Additionally, the paper challenges the idea that the existence of a moral obligation to help the victims of massive unemployment justifies the coercive taking of anyone else’s property.
Keywords technological unemployment  universal basic income  automation
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-018-0070-0
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Equality as a Moral Ideal.Harry Frankfurt - 1987 - Ethics 98 (1):21-43.
Is There a Right to Immigrate?Michael Huemer - 2010 - Social Theory and Practice 36 (3):429-461.

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