Should we fear or embrace automation? Jol Miskin, Dr Jamie Gough, Colin Hines, William Wilson, Terence Oon and Dave Hughes give their views
John Harris asks what happens next to all the jobs that technology will obliterate (Ten million jobs could be gone in 15 years. What then?, 30 April). He fears that inequality will worsen. Not necessarily. Let robots do the boring, repetitive stuff. Humans can do all those jobs required to create a better life for all, and provide decent pay and good working conditions to boot. It’s not rocket science. We need many more care, support, youth and early years workers. In fact, we pretty much need to reinvent local government and the services it should provide. Our parks, green and other spaces need workers to create pleasant environments (we once had such workers). We know the NHS is in crisis and that without investment – including increasing staff numbers – the future is bleak.
In addition, a progressive government needs to rejuvenate our education system. That means developing a truly comprehensive system under democratic control. And it should enable us to learn for learning’s sake (gone will be the 40-plus-hour working week) as well as offering high-quality education and training throughout life for work, leisure and citizenship engagement. Perhaps a citizens’ income is the way forward, or maybe a genuine offer of decent work, at least for those who can. Either way, a dignified and adequate income for all: bread and roses.
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