Designing a super leisurely society

The spread of AI will bring forth a super leisurely society. We must find new ways to live that do not involve labor.
There is much that we can do: eat and drink, love, art, study, or even volunteer.

Having said this, it is unrealistic to think that all of our work will be taken over by AI and robots. As predicted by some, it is best to assume that only half of our workload will be taken from us.
The theme of this discussion is massive: will this super leisurely society function as an economic system?

When we say that half of our workload will be taken from us, we mean AI and robots will take over half of production. With us only having to do half of our jobs, and assuming that the world’s production output and GDP will stay the same, will society continue to function? This may be actually a problem of distribution rather than one of production.

One answer to this problem is a basic income system.

For this system, all citizens are provided a basic income regardless of their employment status. It has received attention in recent years as a bold policy designed for a super-aging society with ballooning social welfare costs, but the rise of AI and robots has also influenced the trend.

In June 2016, Switzerland had a national referendum on adopting the basic income system. For their program, adults would receive a monthly income of 2500 Swiss francs (approx. 275,000 JPY). This income would also be paid to foreigners. In exchange for implementing this system, the Swiss government planned to eliminate pension plans and unemployment allowance. The proposal was shot down with approximately 80% of voters voting against it. The arguments for basic income were ambiguous and the government itself opposed it.

However, I believe that a basic income system has potential. Because it is a bold measure that will completely change the current social security system, its feasibility must be analyzed. The first formula to work out is how much of a basic income must be paid in order to eliminate social security benefits.

Next, we would need to find out what effect paying all citizens a basic income would have on their willingness to work, and what effect it would have on the economy. Should it turn out to be feasible, then maybe AI and robots can go ahead and take our jobs, and only those who want to work will.

Professor Shigeki Morinobu of Chuo University has collected data for his study on this very matter. His results show that it would require 60 trillion JPY of taxes to pay each citizen 100,000 JPY a month. Remarkably, he also delved into policies that could be effective for procuring the funds. The sciences and humanities must come together to debate theories like these, AI technology, socio-economies, and find a solution that works for all parties.

How will we realize this AI society?
Murray Shanahan writes in his book The Technological Singularity that for an AI society to come about, a major social and political will is required.
Setting aside whether or not the future of AI is a bright one, I agree with him. I also believe that the time has come for us have a serious discussion about the issue and make key decisions.

In The Technological Singularity, Shanahan examines the possibilities held by digital personal assistants and discusses giving rights and personalities to AIs. It reminded me of when Ken Akamatsu brought up the subject of AI personalities at the Intellectual Property Headquarters.

How will AI personalities work when you consider that AIs will be copied, divided, and combined? What is there to be said about how civil rights are tied to the government? All of this is covered in the book. Designing the system is anything but easy.

From the topic of emulating brains, we reach the topic of uploading our consciences. This could very well lead to the creation of lifespan extending devices. Shanahan touches upon this, noting both the possibilities and dangers.

While most of AI technology still resides in theory, we must anticipate its implementation and mobilize our expertise from the areas of sociology, economics, politics, philosophy, religion, and other disciplines. It is no longer simply a problem for the researchers; it is a problem for everyone now.
A labor-less society and basic income. We must take our knowledge of disciplines such as economics and politics, have an international debate, and figure out the workings of a realistic system.


Awaiting the super leisurely society

There is a fear regarding the super smart society, also known as Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0, made by AI, IoT, and robots.
People worry that AI may go out of control like HAL. They talk about how some bots are already starting to spew hate speech. There are even cases where robots have hurt or killed humans.
But the scariest aspect of all is the theory that the popularization of AI, IoT, and robotics will steal half of the world’s jobs. This has been predicted by a number of influential studies, giving the theory credibility. 70% of financial transactions are already handled by AI, showing that the supposed takeover may have already begun.
However, economics teaches us that when old jobs are lost, new jobs take their place. MIT Professor Erik Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s book “Race Against the Machine” has a long-term optimistic view of the situation, comparing it with the Industrial Revolution’s Luddite movement.
Many jobs were made by the popularization of the steam engine and electricity in the two phases of the Industrial Revolution. Brynjolfsson theorizes that the third phase, which brought computers and the internet, will create jobs in the long term as well.
Other books make claims about certain jobs that will soon be lost. It is easy to think of jobs that are not competitive. However, it is difficult to imagine what new jobs can be created. This is because these jobs do not exist yet. For humanity’s survival, we must have the power to create these new jobs. Perhaps AI will do that job for us.
However, will AI and robots truly create more work for us? If they were to replace a human worker, then an AI would function as the brain while the robot would function as the body. Is so, then would this not break the previous trends seen with technology and simply result in less work for us?
The farmers who previously tilled their fields with hoes obtained tractors and agrochemicals, making it significantly easier for them to produce large amounts of crops. AI and robots will shoulder our burdens, allowing us to gain income without so much as lifting a finger. We should see this not as having our jobs stolen from us, but being freed from our jobs instead. It is an important implication.
Frankly speaking, that is what I forward to.

I have given a presentation on this at workshop for children, and told them, “If AI and robots do half of our work, then we will just double up. What jobs will the future have?” But in truth, I actually wonder what society would be like if none of us had to work.

It would be a super leisurely society.

Murray Shanahan is the author of The Technological Singularity. In his book, he gives his view as a professor of Cognitive Robotics on the future of AI. Shanahan carefully analyzes AI technology with approaches from the fields of neuroscience and robotics. After thoroughly analyzing brain emulation and copying from the perspectives of physiology and informatics, he discusses the impact that AI will have.

This is Shanahan’s explanation: The total amount of paid labor is guaranteed to decrease in the future. We will reach an age where products and services can be spread through even the poorest levels of society. In this age, everyone will have an equal opportunity at education. It will be an age of unprecedented cultural expression.
I look forward it.