The Future of Employment in the Age of Automation

I'm fascinated by the discussion taking place re: the automation of the workforce and the related topic of a "basic income". A few weeks ago I shared an interview conducted by Recode's Kara Swisher and Johana Bhuiyan with future Governor of California Gavin Newsom (embedded below: see 19-24min). Newsom comments that many politicians don't want to proclaim "the robots are coming, the robots are coming," although, in fact, the robots are coming. Our politicians keep promising jobs to people in fields of work that will be best done through automation. We've seen this happening, but it's likely to increase speed.

A couple days ago Bill Gates discussed the need to begin taxing machines that replace jobs (see: "The robot that takes your job should pay taxes, says Bill Gates"). This is an intriguing concept. Taxing robots would provide some economic resources for the many people whose jobs will no longer exist in the coming world. This could allow governments the opportunity to provide a basic or starter income for all citizens. This wouldn't be a deterrent for innovation—wouldn't future generations prefer to own the robots rather than be replaced by them?—but it could prevent the dystopian future where the automated workforce leads to a disenfranchised, impoverished populace with nothing but time and dissatisfaction to offer.

Most intriguing for educations: Mark Cuban stated in an interview a couple of days ago that the future workforce will be best served by.....ready for this....a liberal arts education (see: "Don't go to school for finance—liberal arts is the future"): "Cuban highlighted English, philosophy, and foreign language majors as just some of the majors that will do well in the future job market."

But Newsom is correct: politicians don't want to run on the platform of "sorry, you're jobs aren't coming back here, but we will prepare you for a future when the nature of work has drastically changed!" That's unfortunate, because the future is coming whether or not we're ready.