Can basic income and good karma/credit system provide a way to cope with AI’s automation?

In 2017, a lot people and various parts of different countries are talking and experimenting with basic income.  Automation — comes naturally and intelligently through artificial intelligence — is the new thing that has gotten people worried.  Some people argue that AI’s automation will replace human beings with robots/programs in all sorts of jobs.  Dumb automation probably has already replaced humans in many cumbersome, repetitive jobs/functions.  Intelligent machines/programs through AI can probably replace many white collar jobs already.  When too many people are out of work, this could become a huge bother for many powerful people who carry important positions in our society.  Displaced people would want to be able to survive and strive in a society in which they’re no longer productive, but this could mean standing up against the factory owners, corporations, and even the governments.  If not careful, a world of full automation could mean a bloody revolution.  Thus, basic income becomes an urgent question for many leaders in any country in our time.

Nonetheless, in the West, we have a thing that was being taught since the fall of Soviet Union is that communism has failed utterly.  We look at China as if Chinese communistic society is the new capitalist society.  How can basic income fit into a Western society in which communism has been taught to be disgusted upon?  After all, basic income is about rationing, splitting equal income for everyone in a single society.  Isn’t communism is also about rationing and splitting equal things for a community, a society, and in biggest case a country?  I guess, we could argue a mix of basic income with capitalistic values won’t lead to new communism, but it could morph into an entirely different beast.  I guess we should ask, can a strong supportive basic income be an uplifting element for the despondent citizens?  I guess we should consider the humming capitalistic tunes of the middle class in this situation.  Can basic income give the despondent ones a chance to reach the middle and eventually the upper classes within this beastly creation?

Perhaps, basic income may not be the only solution.  Perhaps, we require many more parts of a larger, more creative solution in order for us to tackle the AI’s automation revolution.  Imagine in a society in which doing good things promotes good karma, and this karma translates into real monetary credits.  Can this route take us to a Nirvana?  Basic income to support a crumpling foundation, and on the top of this reparable foundation we decorate it with good karma.  The double edge sword of a good karma/credit system is that the implementation of punishments, punishing the good people who have bad karma/credits.  Then the question should be asked such as what could be the punishments for the people who have bad karma/credits?  This won’t be a good thing if new harsh punishments are there to wreck havoc in lives of good citizens.  It could literally lead to a society in which looks very much like a Nazi one.  Perhaps, karma/credit system should be used for the implementation of a positive, credit/monetary system only and not much more, and no punishment should come along with this very system.  This way, good folks won’t be affected by stupid punishments.  Just imagine good karma/credit system provides even more basic income on the top of the basic income?

I couldn’t let this go. Imagine a society in which isn’t too different from a fantastical Star Trek’s one, because a replicator alone could conjure any item out of the thin air.  Perhaps, a replicator could replace basic income and money and credits altogether?  If such a society and technology exist, this could mean the end of being desperate in a more intelligent universe.  Perhaps, if this to occur, people won’t have the need for ancient money/credit system, because a replicator alone could conjure up anything.  It’s magical.  Anyhow, the summation of all is that an interesting time is upon us, and AI’s automation may be replacing us humans in all sorts of jobs.  The old system isn’t providing an answer to how to create new jobs in an AI universe.  A jobless society would be very different in nature, because people need money to survive.  Without providing jobs to a hungry population, a society could face an upheaval of all sorts.  Can basic income and good karma/credit system provide a way to cope with AI’s automation?

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Should Minimum Wage Be Raised Or Not?

For pure intellectual reason, I got interested in the debate of should we raise or not raise the minimum wage.  After watching Walter Block and Bill Quigley debate on minimum wage, my interest in this topic can only be enhanced.  The video of this debate is right after the break.

In my opinion, minimum wage is good when you apply it in good time.  The key is good time.  What is good time?  Good time is when the economy is doing good, low inflation on basic need prices (e.g., food, clothes, education, etc…), strong purchasing power at home and abroad (i.e., high living standard in term of strong currency value without the need of devaluing the currency for strong export market), and whatnot.  Minimum wage is effective in good time as it can apply some justice on punishing greedy corporations that just only want to maximize profitability rather than pay livable wage to their employees; punishing them to pay appropriate wage for their employees.  In good time, higher minimum wage encourages poor people to save less and spend more, but this is a redundant effort since good time doesn’t need the spending of the poor to elevate the economy.

In my opinion, minimum wage is bad when you apply it in bad time.  The key is bad time.  What is bad time?  Bad time is when high inflation prices into everything to raise the prices of foods, everyday needs, rents, housing, and whatnot.  Even high inflation in currency would be a bad thing too as it devalues the currency power (i.e., purchasing power), leading to a lower standard of living, comparing to a normal standard living of course.  As the weaker the currency the more you have to slave away for money to just get what you need.  An example would be high inflation of $1 would require $2 or $3 to buy one lollipop instead of $1 a lollipop.  You probably think I have digressed with the inflation talk, but I just want to emphasize that raising minimum wage in bad time can encourage the inflation to go on steroid.

Why raising minimum wage in bad time could supersize inflation?  Let’s assume that you are an employer of a small shop.  You cannot really afford to hire too many workers.  Thus, you want to make sure each worker you hire does have high productivity rate even though you may not be able to measure such a thing in real number.  Nonetheless, you want to have a feeling that a specific worker you hire is doing a good job for your business.  You know each worker would cost you a lot in term of wage if you have to pay the worker a higher minimum wage.  When a government mandates that you need to pay higher minimum wage, it makes the choice of firing a worker easier for you since you have to think about sustaining the profitability, minimizing the cost of doing business and whatnot.  Furthermore, you would probably include the cost of higher minimum wage for an employee in the products that you are producing, servicing, selling, and trading.  The employees who work for you got higher minimum wage, but they don’t have more money since the purchasing power of their wage hasn’t changed much for the prices of the products they may buy would go up.  Not only the employees but the employers themselves are customers, thus the costs of doing business such as buying materials for business would go up.  Simply put, raising minimum wage in bad time invites inflation to become hyper inflated.  It would be bad for the whole economy.

Big corporations love to have a good public relation image, because they think good public relation image will popularize their brand even more.  Furthermore, corporations believe that the more popular a brand is in image, the better the brand would perform in selling whatever.  It’s common sense really!  Thus in bad time, big corporations won’t mind raising minimum wage for their employees, because their profit margin is already high.  At the same time, their brand’s image gets a boost by paying higher wage for their employees in bad time.  Smaller businesses will have harder time in playing the PR game of raising wage, because their profit margin isn’t high enough to comfortably raise wage for their employees.  Thus, minimum wage encourages big corporations play PR game without taking the inflationary effect into the account.

Should we abandon minimum wage altogether?  Once minimum wage got raised, it’s really hard to undo the minimum wage’s level.  Don’t you think it’s really ugly for a government to tell her people to work for less than yesterday minimum wage?  Lowering the minimum wage isn’t going to be popular at all.  Abandoning it isn’t the solution either.  I think many things are relative, and minimum wage is definitely relative to changing time (i.e., good or bad time).  This is why I think raising minimum wage in good time would look good, and lowering the minimum wage in bad time invites protests.  I think since minimum wage is already in effect, the best thing to do is to not messing with it at all.  This means you better have a really good reason to raise the minimum wage.  Instead of messing with minimum wage to help the poor out, why not aiming for low inflation prices of foods, clothes, and whatnot.  Lower inflation would help out the poor in term of purchasing power as long the currency of a country isn’t already devalued to the point of near worthless.  After all, cheaper foods and whatnot would be a good thing for the poor and everybody else!

In conclusion, I don’t think minimum wage is the same thing as high productive wage.  I think individual company can do good by paying high productive wage (i.e., paying more) for employee who has done a stellar job in his/her role, because retaining a good employee from leaving the company for a competitor would be a good thing, in the consideration of having good, long term, business prospect.  When raising minimum wage without thinking about the consequence in having inflation on steroid would be extremely irresponsible thing to do.  In my opinion, instead of messing with the minimum wage, the government should worry about controlling the high inflation in everyday needs for the poor.  I don’t think the argument of minimum wage encourages productivity makes any sense, because productivity is a self-fulfilling-prophecy kind of thing.  Higher productivity will always be in demand in the business world, thus the competition for higher productivity will be abundant.  Higher minimum wage may encourage employers to fire employees easier and hire employees with better productivity rate.  Without raising minimum wage, the employers may give the employees with low productivity rate a second chance in retaining their jobs.  After all, retraining new employees would disrupt the flow of productivity anyway!  In general, the less poor people out there on the street, the better the economy and the society will be more stable.  If raising minimum wage can make inflation goes on steroid, then raising minimum wage is just an illusion for having done something good.

Starbucks Manager Goes Crazy On Customer

Lately, Starbucks got some bad lucks.  From the news, a cop was suing Starbucks for spilled hot coffee.  Another news reported that hackers are targeting Starbucks’ customers who use Starbucks app.  Just in, a manager exploded and accused a customer of stealing a straw.  The whole incident was recorded and now is being shared on the Internet.  Check out the videos right after the break to have a glimpse at the incident.

I got free coffee from Starbucks before, and so I’ve had great experience with Starbucks.  Nonetheless, I definitely don’t want to ever have to experience something similar to the customer who was at the receiving end of an angry Starbucks’ manager.  Fortunately, so far I have not yet had any crazy incident like that at anywhere I have gone to.  Oh wait, there was one time that I went into a Subway sandwich store near the closing time, and a stranger gave me a peck (a brief kiss) on my cheek for no apparent reason.  I think she was drunk or something of that sort.  I felt uncomfortable of course, but everyone was laughing in the store.  I laughed along, but I got out of the store as quickly as I could after I had my order fulfilled.

When Robots Are The Real Employees, What Will Be Of Humankind?

Recently, I came across an article with the headline Building work starts on first all-robot manufacturing plant in China’s Dongguan by scmp.com (South China Morning Post), and since then I have been thinking to myself the implication of this development for a future in which I’m going to be around, still.  To speak the truth, I don’t want to pretend that I’m a somebody and having a stake in this development at all, because I’m a puny human being with insignificant footprint on this earth.  Nonetheless, I’m a curious human being at the same time, and so I like to scratch an itch which contributes to me being noisy (not nosy, but maybe…).

I can’t help but wonder the state of a future in which human beings are going to delegate most jobs to robots.  To tell the truth, this would be a heavenly condition for some people, but this implication for most people would be rather scary.  The implication of losing jobs to robots will be scary since you can only get angry at the company/corporate that employs robots only, because robots have no emotion, whatsoever, to care for your well being at all (i.e., humanity’s well being).  If you throw in the smart robots that have stellar artificial intelligence, even these guys are not made of blood and sweat and probably taking commands from the company/corporate to the letter unless the robots decide to dominate us humankind.

When robots get to the level that they can feel, think, and empathize even though in reality they are manufactured by us humans, I bet humans will have laws that prevent robots from being destroyed by a human being.  To destroy such a smart, near humanlike being is like murdering a sentient being.  If this scenario becomes real at a point in the future, what will humans do when protesting against robots for taking humankind jobs?  Perhaps, by then, the humankind will have to face two dilemmas, one of the dilemmas is the human traitors who only think of profits and the other dilemma is the robots who consider to have sentient rights.

Perhaps, I have overly fantasized the scenario in which robots rule over humans, but in near term it’s no less scary to see stupid robots take away human jobs.  Will humans be able to cope with massive layoffs around the world?  Will humans be able to cope with poverty when losing jobs to stupid robots?  What will be the future political system for a country if robots get to work and humans get to live in poverty?  Will there be a system in place to ensure humans stay above the poverty line when robots become more productive than human beings?

Imagine in a zoo where bananas keep popping out of thin air, the monkeys don’t really have to go pick bananas off the banana trees themselves.  If this scenario is real for the monkeys, these monkeys have few choices in this zoo.  One of the choices may be that the monkeys would become really fat and lazy, because the monkeys don’t need to get sweaty for picking the bananas.  Another choice may be that the monkeys become more productive in other areas since they don’t have to worry about gathering bananas anymore.  Perhaps, the monkeys would get sweaty for picking other foods other than bananas for spicing up their meals since bananas could be obtained from thin air?  The question is if the robots produce everything humans need, is it necessary for the humans to slave away like robots?  The fear is that humans might get lazy and fat, and one day robots or whatever will discard the stupid, fat, lazy humans.  If the humans get smarter and be more productive since making a living is no longer a requirement for there are robots that fill this role, then I guess this is a positive thing to have going.

If companies all over China decide to install robots and fire off human employees, I think companies in China will be able to generate bigger profits and outcompete non-Chinese companies.  Robots might not need to be maintained that often, but these robots can slave away without asking for higher wages.  Chinese companies can attain gigantic saving by cutting away the costly, sentient wages.  By investing the savings into cutting edge research and development programs, Chinese companies can outcompete not only in pure manufacturing process but also in innovation arena.  Since China is known as a manufacturing hub for the world, other countries may as well install robots-only-factories to compete against China.  This will lead the whole world into a vicious cycle of laying off the less productive, high cost human employees.  Even though it’s only one company in China is doing this right now, how do we know this won’t be the prefer solution for our near future when it comes down to hiring (i.e., hiring robots and firing human employees)?

Besides other scary calamities that may occur in our near future, us humans may have to face a future in which robots will slave away for some human masters.  Not all humans can master over robots since it will take money to produce and configure an army of robots to slave on whatever.  If that isn’t enough, artificial intelligence might get smart enough to become the master of the humans.  Of course, robots as master over humans scenario is still in the realm of science fiction.  The question is will such a scenario be possible?  In my opinion, you can never say never to anything!  Nonetheless, since this topic has gotten catapulted into an out of this world stratosphere, I think it’s also possible to imagine that humans may utilize technology to implant hardware that can improve human software (e.g., human brain, strength, sight, hearing, etc…).  Perhaps, this will be the alternative path for humans to compete against highly intelligent, sentient robots.

In summary, we are witnessing a near future in which robotics can become the main workforce and the human employees might not be able to find jobs in this sort of workforce.  As human populations around the world continue to grow in leaps and bounds, what will happen to us all when the robots take jobs away from us human beings?  I have a feeling this scenario will come true in a near future, but I just don’t know which path the humans will take in such a future.  A path to destruction or a path to salvation?  Personally, I sure hope us humans will be more productive in an environment in which robots become the main workforce.  Assuming, us humans are smarter than the monkeys in a zoo with magical bananas that I had described earlier in this blog post.

Middle Class Is The Saint Of The World

I think the middle class is the saint of world economy.  Middle class’ population is always going to be more abundant than the top 1% and 2% elite classes’ populations of the world.  Why?  It is obvious that it will always be a lot harder and rarer for anyone to make to the top of the class, because the higher you go the more competition you have to face.  This means, it’s harder for anyone to make into the top 1% or 2% of the elite classes.  Thus, my conclusion on this point is that the middle class is the middle way and  the best way to attain the abundance of wealth.  Why?  The more people that are wealthy, the more people can spend the money to promote consumerism, consequently boosting businesses in our small world (i.e., globalization).

Basically, I’m not worrying how wealthier a top 1% or 2% elite class has gotten, but I’m more worrying about how poorer the middle class has gotten.  The middle class is the middle way, and it can either go up or down.  Going up is a positive movement, but going down can only increase the population of the poor.  The poorer people get, the more desperate the people are.  The more desperate people get, the more dangerous people are.  By dangerous I mean people can do just about anything to survive.

History has shown us that the heads of elite classes were guillotined just because the poor were abundant.  Someone got to take the blame for all of the sorrows in the world.  Within our history, the elite classes might not have been so ruthless, but their heads were severed from their bodies for being so wealthy.  Lands and wealth were confiscated by new power and sometimes were distributed in the wrong ways that would not elevate society in general.

Within our history, the poor had made wrong decisions that could shatter earth.  One perfect example would be Hitler’s rise.  I could be wrong as I’m not an expert in the history of World War II and Germany in general, but I think the poor elevated Hitler rise for they had believed in his positive persuasion of making Germany more prosperous in the time in which Germany was experiencing poverty and pessimism.  As we all have known by now that Hitler’s rise gave way to an earth shattering war known as World War II.  Millions of people died in such a war.  Roughly around 60 millions people were killed in WWII?

Can we blame the poor for their desperations?  I think not!  The poor don’t have a choice.  The poor have to take desperate measures so they can survive.  Desperation is not a choice!

I think the world will be better off if the middle class can be enlarged.  The larger the middle class gets, the smaller the number of the poor gets.  I think the elites will sleep better when knowing there will be less riots and less people will go after their heads.  Of course, their wealth will always be a big target for everybody no matter the state of the world is in, but at least they won’t see desperate people go after their heads as well.

How To Build An Empire

I’m no expert in world affairs at all, and I know little of what I’m about to spew.  Nonetheless, here I believe some of the things I’m about to expand in this blog post.  There were so many factors that had Europe gave way to the rise of the United States.  For an example, Europe was so divided in World War I and World War II, thus Europe was self-destructive in economics and military.  United States was an ocean away from the self-destructive Europe and entered World War II only after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Perhaps, Europe was so self-destructive in which leaving United States and few other countries as the last countries standing?  After World War II, the world began to see clearly the forming of the two new superpowers, and these were United States and the Soviet Union.  Eventually, we all knew that the Soviet Union collapsed, leaving the United States as a sole superpower until the rise of China as now.

Regardless of how one believes some of the things that had given and may give rise to a nation, state, country, empire, and civilization, but I do think a rising tide cannot rise from nothing.  This means for a country to rise up, the country needs able human resources to find fuels, produce foods, create industries, invent ideas and technology, educate youths with necessary skills and valuable lessons of life in general, and so much more.  With a strong foundation to back a country, this may be just enough to give a country a chance to rise above all others.  Besides a strong foundation, a country needs to feel its purpose such as how to identify itself to the rest of the world for a specific purpose or purposes.  This means such a country needs a leader and able brains around such a leader and sub-leaders to push the rise of a country into a reality.  A tide cannot rise from nothing!  A rising empire has to be built on a strong foundation, and so a tide too must have been rising from something!

Remembering Roman Empire?  Roman Empire started out from an unknown small civilization.  This must have been the case, because many things were usually started out small and then grew larger.  Of course there was, is, and will always be an exception to the rule, nonetheless all babies must start from being small and then growing into adulthood.  This means Roman Empire was not an empire from the beginning.  Most likely, Roman Empire was begun with a strong foundation of a small state, and such a strong foundation had given rise to a strong Roman civilization.  With a stable and strong civilization, the Roman Empire was then sprouting forth.

History had shown us that the Roman Empire success was not the exception, because throughout history ancient people had built many rising empires just so they could see them empires tumbled and crashed into nothingness.  Some few lucky ancient empires were able to extend past influence into modern days through few elements and customs, but most ancient empires are no long exist.  Thus we all should know that empire is to be built and is to be destroyed eventually.  Nonetheless, no empire could rise from nothing.  Then again, ironically speaking, ancient empires had been risen from having nothing in the beginning, but I bet these ancient empires did start out with fiery will in civilization building.

I believe before an empire could be built, a civilization needs these elements in strong foundation building.  I expand as you continue to read on…

Building a strong foundation for an empire, a civilization needs to have a sizable population that live in a favorable geography, thus landmass size is also important but not the exception.  Nothing is exceptional, but many non-exceptional elements take into the account, together these elements can contribute in creating an exceptional event or phenomenon.  In our case, a rising empire may not need huge landmass size, because her people may be able to conquer the world through technology and whatnot.  Nonetheless, if another civilization which has greater landmass size and more resources to consume, this strange civilization may also be able to educate a population to be innovative enough to come up with the same technology or even better technology, and so landmass size and population factors do come into play as important elements that contribute to empire building, eventually.  The non-exceptional elements may be exceptional after all!

Besides a united sizable population and landmass size as the necessary elements but not the exceptions to have building a strong foundation for empire building, the innovation in reinventing and reforming a state/civilization is also very important to the building of a rising empire.  Without fear in absorbing knowledge and apply useful knowledge such as new important and useful technology, a civilization can catapult herself into a grander stratosphere.  We all know that good technology does provide opportunities for improving lives and whatnot.  In war, good technology provides means to victories in battlefields.  In economy, good technology provides means to efficiency, productivity and whatever else.  So on and so on…  Thus, I think as long a civilization can see her own mistakes and abandon such mistakes to accept the changes, this in itself is almost like creating a new technology, providing a chance for a civilization to revitalize.  Without failing in finding ways to reinvent and revitalize a civilization image to fit with time, such a civilization may have a chance in striving for empire building.

We don’t live in a perfect world, thus building an empire is not going to be all about having all the positives and none of the negatives.  This means as long a civilization is able to sustain the negatives and yet being stable still to take the advantages of the positives, eventually such a civilization may be able to build an empire.  I guess such a civilization needs to be more practical and less idealistic.  Once having an empire, such a civilization can then enjoy to be more idealistic in whatever.  Of course, having of too much of something may turn out to be just having too much of something to handle.  Being too ideal won’t lead to good ending in my opinion.  An empire can crash and tumble for being too idealistic in my opinion.

Although we all like to think that the impossible will stay impossible, thus Africa may never become her own empire in the future, but I beg to differ.  China was one of those poorest nations on planet earth in her humiliated time, and yet she is now a rising dragon and had lifted hundred of millions of her own people out of poverty.  United States was a colony and now is still one of the strongest nations on planet earth.  With the examples of China and United States, who say Africa will be forever poor and backward?  Just like anywhere else, Africa needs a spark of fire to begin to build the bricks of her strong foundation.  So, I believe nothing is exceptional, and yet the non-exceptional elements in combination can become rather exceptional!  Building an empire is not exclusive to one group of people or geography, albeit population and geography are the two necessary elements in building empire.

I had emphasized in — population, landmass size, technology, innovation, reform, absorbing necessary knowledge, letting go mistakes to accept changes, and balancing act of juggling between the practicality and ideal — as the necessary elements in building empire.  I also emphasized that these elements are not exceptional, but in combination these elements can generate exceptional phenomenon such as building an empire.  Of course, I had said that I’m not an expert in this field, whatever this field is, but I believe the things I mentioned could be just the things a civilization needs in building an empire.

Why building an empire?  In my opinion, an empire isn’t necessarily evil.  I don’t think greatness can come from a forever nothing, but greatness can be built from nothing!  Thus to build an empire is to build something great from having nothing, and how evil or holy an empire becomes is another story entirely.  Perhaps, the Roman Empire had left something great for the modern world to latch onto?  Perhaps, the Chinese ancient dynastic empires had left something great for modern world to latch onto?  Perhaps, the Egyptian Empire had found a place in our modern imagination?  Of course, all empires were, are, and will be built to last, but the truth is none shall last forever.  Regardless the lasting forever part, whatever left of awesome ancient empires might still be something of use for modern societies.  For an example, Chinese ancient dynastic empires’ technologies helped modern societies to innovate and build modern technology and societies (e.g., gun powder, compass, paper, printing press, etc…).  We could say the same thing about ancient Greece, India, and so on.