Automation Will Be Not Only About Functional Production But Also About Experience.
Jeremy Rifkin, author of “The society at no marginal cost“, describes what seems to be one of the possible futures for modern capitalism in the coming years: the advent of pervasive automation in all industries driven by Artificial Intelligence, i.e. intelligent models of data manipulation and management and by the development of the ecosystems of the Internet of Things, able to produce on a massive level a quantity of structured data critical to power and definition of intelligent models.
What exactly does this mean? When you are able to produce at no cost, the price of a good or service that you define on the market will tend more and more towards 0 because of competition.
One of the first models that come closest to this type is that of Facebook, where the final service is offered free of charge thanks to the logic of scalability and sustainability guaranteed by the exploitation of information obtained from users.
When it is possible to enhance the value of the end user to the point of covering the costs of the company, a good or service can be offered free of charge to the latter.
This is especially the case when there is a potential mass of very high-volume individuals and low costs guaranteed by the automation (which make the cost of the service per person ever lower).
The problem of this scenario, where it becomes more and more difficult to compete to guarantee goods and services offered by fewer and fewer companies, which in turn are more and more efficient and able to cover larger and larger markets, is manifested in the inability of individuals to obtain a earning from their work, especially when the training received is not highly specialized.
As a result, the profits of the few companies that manage to operate in the market are managed and divided between fewer and fewer high skilled workers, making the income from work increasingly elitist.
This is the case, for example, of Instagram, sold to Zuckerberg for about $ 1 billion, which at the time of the transaction would satisfy more than 200 million users with only 13 employees.
In a society pervaded by automation and the now impending Artificial Intelligence will need fewer people to meet the entire market and it will be increasingly difficult, for the same trained and skilled employed, to be able to compete for an income from work.
To solve this problem, many solutions are being devised and tested: one of the most quoted is the UBI – Universal Basic Income – which corresponds to the idea of offering a constant and indiscriminate income throughout life to all citizens for the simple fact of being born.
Clearly, this solution could work in an already fully automated world, where it is actually impossible to work for the majority of the population.
A gradual process, which does not attack meritocracy by not discouraging those who already work through higher taxation, could reside in an “income-for-training” that is indexed to the future skills that are estimated to be more in demand/relevant for the labor market.
Individually, in a free market and in a globalized world, the income of training, so as not to become a welfare system that encourages parasitic free-riding (moving to a foreign country following the training received at the expense of taxpayers) should be provided through a virtual credit to the “student”.
The virtual credit would be accumulated on the basis of the amount paid to the student to cover the costs of his studies and would be scaled down on the basis of a percentage of the tax revenue provided and paid in his own country.
When the specialized student moves to produce income in another country, the virtual credit would be transformed into a real credit to be paid back in a different form than the tax revenue, to which the interest rates on the market apply.
This would also make it less convenient for talents to move abroad because the actual salary received would be reduced by the share of bonds to be paid to repay the loan obtained for his education and at the same time would support the reduction of unemployment generated by the skills gap between supply and demand for labor and the development of new industries on the ground.
This process will be necessary up to the point in which the “Company with marginal cost 0” will not be reached, where at a productive level the decisional process of the IA becomes more and more efficient, to the point of having a reduction of the Cognitive Bias with respect to the individual decisions, making the private organic competition less and less convenient with respect to the development of algorithms for the optimisation of the decisions of the consumers, which will lead to a gradually reduction in the number of enterprises, arriving to the concept of “consumer-producer“.