The president of SwissICT, Thomas Flatt is in favor of unconditional basic income (referendum on June 5th):
Computer scientists have finally arrived in the real world. We're now part of the establishment. Not only are our representatives suddenly present in parliament, we were also present at the WEF (World Economic Forum). Plus, the main subject of the forum were our very own inventions. Like always, bad news sells better than good news. That's why recently we've seen a lot of headlines stating that in the next few years 5 million jobs will be lost in the industrialized world. This study is rather conservative though, since others estimate that in the next 10 to 20 years we'll loose about 50% of our jobs.
However IT (Information Technology) also creates new jobs, many in fact. That's at least what our optimists say. Sure, IT will create new jobs and it'll be easy to train all the dismissed taxi drivers, industrial workers, and call-center workers into robot specialists and software developers. It's even easier than the job-search for a 50 year old computer scientist. But let's not fall into pessimism. We've survived the invention of electricity, of the steam engine, of the railway, of cars and of many other inventions. Industries and jobs came and went and were replaced by new ones. The same thing will happen this time - or will it? Either way, the winners will be those who anticipate what might happen in 5 to 10 years, and those who prepare their goods and services for this world of tomorrow.
This is also very important when it comes to politics. Politics shouldn't only focus on the present, but also on the future. Politics that anticipates the society of tomorrow, and that guarantees it's functioning. This means that the State should take more responsibility when it comes to new laws, regulations and redistribution. I'll admit that, as a strong supporter of the free market and as a libertarian, it almost breaks my heart. But when I imagine how fast the world is changing and how much the speed of this change is accelerating, I realize that we must imagine the State of after-tomorrow.
This State of after-tomorrow, will have many citizens without jobs like we know them today. However, these citizens will need a goal, something that gives a meaning to their lives and last but not least: money to live. As computer scientists we know the possibilities. And we should thus be in favor of unconditional basic income - we know what will likely happen. So instead of old-fashioned regulation, let's do visionary politics. Combined with businesses and hard-working people, who at least for now earn their living, it will be a huge success. Welcome to 2016.
The column "Seitenblick appears every month in swissITC Magazine and doesn't necessarily share the views of swissITC. (This text was published for the first time on February 2nd 2016)