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  • 12.23.16

Watch Out, There’s A Robot Behind You: 2016 In Automation

The only solution to robots is a basic income.

Automation continued to be a hot topic in 2016. It backgrounded the political campaign and stoked fears of unemployment. New artificially intelligent devices (you know, robots) appeared constantly, stacking boxes, patrolling parking lots, diagnosing disease, looking after old people. American factories continued to produce more goods, but with fewer people. Automation made our lives easier, and increasingly safe, but also reduced the need for human beings and the need for humans to think for themselves.

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In this context, in 2016, people began to argue for more radical solutions beyond the normal responses of training and education. That includes a universal basic income (UBI)–a stipend paid to every man, woman and child to cover fundamental expenses. By the end of the year, several cities and countries, including Utrecht, in the Netherlands, and Finland, were planning full-scale trials of UBI. 2017 is likely to see growing discussion of the idea, with other pilots on the drawing-board.

1. How Soon Before Your Job Is Done By A Robot? This Handy Chart Will Tell You
What’s your job’s “automation potential”? Hint: It’s very high!

[Photo: Flickr user Mike Mozart]

2. Walmart Is Testing A Robot Shopping Cart, So You Can Do The Job Of Low-Wage Workers
The cart is designed to guide shoppers around the store—and eventually, even let them check out themselves as they shop.

3. The Goal Of This Board Game Is To Survive The Automation Wave
Can you find navigate your way through a world without jobs?

3. A Dutch City Is Experimenting With Giving Away A Basic Income Of $1,000 A Month
Utrecht is one of four Dutch cities trying to figure out what happens if you give your citizens free money.

4. The Last Cowboy Standing Is Going To Be This Cattle-Herding Robot
Automation is coming to one of the world’s most iconic jobs.

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5. What Do Uber Drivers Think About Being Replaced By Robots?
Uber says its drivers can shift to other jobs, but picking up passengers is far easier than training to be a self-driving car mechanic.

[Photo: Flickr user Brett L.]

6. Instead Of Just Eliminating Jobs, Automation Could Usher In A More Fair Economy

As robots become smarter, they are replacing more and more jobs. Does that have to mean people are out of work? Or can it mean that people work better and safer?

7. How Finland’s Exciting Basic Income Experiment Will Work—And What We Can Learn From It
Talking to the scientist designing the national experiment that could change the way governments take care of their citizens.

8. Here’s Why You Should Support A Universal Basic Income
Take back your life from the tyranny of working to survive.

9. This Cheap Robot Does Boring Lab Work, So Scientists Can Use Their Time For Discoveries

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At big labs, robots perform the menial tasks of science. The $3,000 OT-One makes that possible for small-time researchers, so they can move more quickly toward big discoveries.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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