TED Talk Discussion: How We’ll Earn Money in a Future Without Jobs

Machines that can think, learn and adapt are coming — and that could mean that we humans will end up with significant unemployment. What should we do about it? In a straightforward talk about a controversial idea, futurist Martin Ford makes the case for separating income from traditional work and instituting a universal basic income.

Martin Ford at TED2017
How we’ll earn money in a future without jobs

Useful Vocabulary

Explosion of interest
Displace workers
on the brink of social and economic upheaval
False alarm
had nowhere else to turn

Comprehension Questions

  1. What is the Triple Revolution Report?
  2. Which worker has been left without employment as a result of automation?
  3. So I can ask a very  _____________________ question: Is it possible that at some point in the future, a significant __________________ of the human workforce is going to be made __________________ in the way that horses were?
  4. Martin believes that the future of work will be full of machines that are very similar to what we have today?
  5. Martin believes the future will have machines that can copy what people can do?
  6. What is Google DeepMind and what can it do?
  7. Martin believes that only 10% of jobs can be automated?
  8. Martine believes jobs like financial analysts, radiologists, journalists, lawyers will have the jobs taken away by automation?
  9. How will automation change the economy?
  10. What does Martin refer to in order to tackle the economic problem with mass automation?

Comprehension Answers

  1. A prominent report that was given to Lydon Johnson which describes the result of industrial automation.
  2. Horses.
  3. provocative,  fraction, redundant.
  4. False. The machines of the future are going to be thinking, adapting, and learning. Far different from anything we have or had.
  5. Yes, because machines are beginning to encroach on human abilities, like adaptive learning and etc.
  6. It is a piece of software which can play the ancient game of Go.
  7. False, he believes that it can be half of all jobs.
  8. Yes, because newer machines are able to have thinking capabilities.
  9. If there are fewer jobs then there will be fewer customers and businesses will make less money.
  10. Universal Basic Income

Group Discussion

  • Do you think that machines and automation will change the structure of our society?
  • Would you be in favour of having an income without going to work to earn it?
  • Will automation lead to dangerous consequences? What do you think will happen and why?
  • Do we only get some meaning in our life through our work?
  • Do people value money far too much?
  • Can all work and by extension jobs be defined by our passions? For instance, would someone become a soldier, construction worker, plumber just because they enjoy the type of activity?
  • Has technology become too powerful for us (as a society) to manage?
  • What alternatives can there be to help people who cannot compete with machines?

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