Turns out I didn’t need to drop Make Creativity Work or Make Community Work. Once I wrote up the problems I was having with them, I realized that with some changes to the setup and some changes to both parts of the model, most of the problems went away. Below is my quick and dirty, short version of my revised framework. I’ll post a more fleshed out version in the coming weeks.
Many experts believe that between 2025 and 2040, 25-75% of all jobs will be replaced by robots/AI. Given that the rules of our economy already concentrate wealth and power at the top, this crisis could end up devastating the middle class and the poor and destroying our democracy. But not all experts agree that robots/AI could bring about mass unemployment, and there’s no way to know who’s right. So, we need a strategy for building a more just, prosperous economy for all regardless of whether robots/AI create an unemployment crisis.
The solution: Makers All.
To understand why Makers All is structured the way it is, we need to understand the economic backdrop that shapes it:
- Not only robots and AI but also augmented and virtual reality, digital fabrication, wearables, and other emerging technologies are going to become the core of this new economy. The most valuable part of this economy won’t be physical products but the creative works that power them: a robot’s software that lets it cook, the recipe that tells it how to make tomato soup, the patent behind sensors that lets it know when a chicken breast is fully cooked.
- The Internet has given us a sneak preview of what an economy dominated by creative works might look like. With websites, YouTube, and open source software, we have an unprecedented bounty of creative works at our fingertips. But the financial benefits have largely gone to the top: musicians, newspaper reporters, and other makers of creative works have a harder time paying the bills, income inequality has soared, and communities from Compton to Harlan County have essentially been written off.
- But as the postwar consumer economy showed us, technology isn’t destiny. Through their unions, millions of white Americans built grassroots power at the heart of this new economy that ensured this prosperity was more broadly shared. The challenge we face today is how to build grassroots power at the heart of the creative works economy — and do it in a way so this time every community benefits
Makers All consists of 2 strategies:
Make Creativity Work. How do we ensure that in every community, as many people as possible can earn some or all of their income from creative works?
- Knowledge. In every community, ensure that as many individuals as possible can learn the skills they need to participate in this economy both as tool users and tool creators — and rewire tech culture to support it. This knowledge is critical not only so people can benefit financially but also for the second part of Make Creativity Work: building power.
- Power. Organize within and across communities to build grassroots power at the heart of this new economy. The goal: to ensure that everyone, not just a handful of corporations and the wealthy, gets a seat at the table where decisions get made about how the rules governing creative works are structured and who benefits (e.g., “YouTube Done Right”).
Make Community Work. Although every community should benefit from Make Creativity Work, not every individual will benefit enough to pay the bills and not everything we value will pay — and the harder hit our society is by job losses, the more critical this problem will become. So we need another way to make sure nobody starves and everyone has a shot at making it:
- Fill the Gaps. Guarantee everyone security through a mix of a smaller Universal Basic Income and other opportunities that anyone could do and that reinforce our society’s values (e.g., “volunteer bucks”). Provide resources for work that’s critical to our communities but that the market doesn’t value, such as taking care of children and the elderly. And reduce our need for income through personal digital fabrication, creating more affordable housing, etc.
- Make Communities Whole. Create Marshall Plan-style transitions for communities who are hit hard by new robot-driven job crises or were previously Left behind.