Business Insider spoke with O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly about how a robot workforce can improve the lives of everyone, not just the very rich.
Full transcript below
Tim O’Reilly: There’s a wonderful idea that was articulated by Google’s chief economist Hal Varian he said: “If you want to understand the future, just look at what rich people do today.” And when you first hear it, you think “What a heartless, libertarian comment.”
But then you realise rich people once had running water and poor people didn’t. Now everybody has running water pretty much, at least in the developed world. Rich people used to go on the grand tour of Europe now soccer fans follow their teams around Europe. Only rich people had mobile phones not that long ago and now everybody has mobile phones.
So, what do rich people do today? First off, they have great education with small class sizes, intensive teaching, they have concierge medicine. They have incredible opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the good life. Why wouldn’t we want that for everybody?
If we had the machines doing more of the work we could all live like rich people and that I think is kind of the vision.
John Maynard Keynes expressed this beautifully in 1929 in his essay “Economic possibilities for our grandchildren.”
What we have to solve is what he believes was mankind’s true economic problem, how will we use the fruits of this productivity to live wisely and well? I think that’s what we have to solve for.
We have plenty to go around, it’s just not going around.
Produced by Jasper Pickering
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