Just listened to the Sam Harris podcast episode on Universal Basic Income. While running. Legs are acting like they don’t want to run. But I want them to run. So we go back and forth. The UBI podcast says that automation is and will continue to eat away at our jobs. And that as a result, instead of letting let go workers wallow on video games and get hooked on opiates and addicted to booze and off themselves in record numbers, we should provide every American with $1000 a month, which isn’t enough to live on, but it’s a decent supplemental income, so there won’t really be an incentive to quit work but there will be a semi safety net and a little cushion with which to go out on a limb and start that company you’ve always dreamed of.
I’m highly compelled by the idea. Because I agree the world is going AI automated. McDonalds kiosks. Sam Harris brings up radiology and oncology. And the big one is trucking. 3 million jobs in the US are for commercial long haul truckers. Soon these guys will only be needed during the ten miles entering and exiting a major metro area. Otherwise the computer. Some say real people in the truck won’t even be needed. You can have a bank of remote operators in a warehouse in Arizona or Nevada and they can drive the truck remotely during the exit/entry or when the AI fails.
I can see it in coffee. I can see it in education. I can see it most everywhere. Sam says arguably the one profession that would survive the AI apocalypse is massage therapist. So that’s good. I mean I know Thai Massage so wee.
The podcast moves me on non-policy grounds, too. Like it’s sort of a deeply embedded assumption of capitalism that human virtue is tied up in having a job and taking pride in the job and working hard at the job. And yet take the example of a cashier. One philosopher said imagine that you’re a cashier playing a video game of being a cashier. It’d be torture. Imagine doing that five days a week. All day. And then pretend that you’re supposed to get deep fulfillment out of this meaningless task. It sounds so much like so many jobs now. I could easily write a dystopian novel about how we millennials get trained up in our high schools and colleges about the universe and how we’re going to make a difference and this liberal arts bullshit propaganda about the sky is the limit but the real truth is that the march of progress means technology is getting better and better and taking more and more jobs and that means more and more young 20 year old men are living in their parents basements playing World of Warcraft.
I’m rambling but I think you should all listen to Sam’s podcast.
Which is also a way of saying that. I’m now happily employed at a coffee shop down the street splitting my time between the front of the house and back of the house. I’m happy because while it’s like $9.50 an hour or something, it’s honest, and it’s part time meaning I can have a life with my wife and daughter and my running and swimming and writing and dog and baking and fermenting and painting. And it’s something I did in high school too. Which is ironic. Or sordid. Or sour. If you look at it that way. But it’s also just the way of the march march march march.
3 million truckers in the US. And servicing this industry which is 94% men, median age 49, and 50% with chronic disease from spending 4 days a week sitting for 11 hours a day. And for these men who are soon to be out of work, 5 million servers and gas stations and hotel workers and other people who are also soon to be screwed.
The podcast carried me through my run which is great and I’m grateful and the two knee braces came from Amazon so my right knee is feeling tight and might with all that compression.
Kate and I are swell too. Married men must real look and listen. It’s like crossing the street. Look both ways. I haven’t been doing this enough, but I will.
Sourdough is in the oven. Sliced smoked salmon is on the counter. My sister is coming into town this weekend. From Colorado.