Over the decades since the Industrial Revolution, technological innovation and the creation of large scale manufacturing processes have brought about an exponential increase in standards of living and productivity. With the adoption of more and more mechanical machinery stemming from the use of steam power and water power, this led to a rapid increase in the expansion of human civilization. The rise of mechanization has drastically the economic, social, and political landscape. Economically, the rise of highly efficient manufacturing processes meant that companies could produce more products, more efficiently, at lower cost, and with less margin for human error. And beneficially for consumers, the cost of consumer goods such as cooking utensils and clothing also fell as a result (Nardinelli, n.d, n.p). Socially, the falling prices for consumer goods meant that there was now a huge demand for such items. To keep up with demand, more factories and industrial centers were built, and around them, housing was built as well to accommodate the workers employed at the factories. Politically, the invention paper machines able to mass produce paper and steam machines being applied to the printing press led to increased literacy as people had access to more newspapers which in turn increased citizen participation in politics (Nardinelli, n.d, n.p). However, even with all of the benefits to society that mechanization and automation have brought, it hides away dark truths about its true benefits to society. Although industrialization has brought about great changes to society’s quality of life, with each technological revolution, from steam machines to mechanical machines, and now to digital machines, larger numbers of people are displaced as the capabilities of the machines being built grow to take over an increasing amount of responsibilities from humans. With the advent of computers and digital automation, many industries are looking to turn to such technologies in order to reduce their costs of manufacturing and increase profits simultaneously. In doing so, the humans that once performed the job now taken over by robots and computers are now unemployed. In contrast to the 19th century where dozens of industries sprung into existent and replaced the ones that were automated away, the future of the 21st century is one where new industries will be ones built with the absence of humans in mind. As the roles for humans increasingly shrink, the need for a universal basic income becomes more and more important. The solution for the future in order to sustain current and future society is to instantiate a universal basic income for workers that have been replaced by automation. As more and more people become displaced by automation, the universal basic income program should be expanded to provide for more people as industries attain full automation. The program will be funded by the companies that choose to make use of machinery over human resources. Eventually, as all existing industries have finished transitioning to being fully automated, by then the entire population of the world will be a universal basic income program.
Nardinelli, C. (n.d.). Industrial Revolution and the Standard of Living. Retrieved from https://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/IndustrialRevolutionandtheStandardofLiving.html