Monday, March 06, 2017

6 Big Ideas from the WGS #4) The Fourth Industrial Revolution will have losers – we need to take care of them

                     Would Hillary have won if she’d engaged as much as Trump with people who felt so disempowered and disenchanted? 

                    Quite  possibly.

                     If there is one clear lesson from Trump and Brexit, it’s that governments need to show more wisdom and compassion to those threatened by changes.

                     A Universal Basic Income has been proposed whereby everyone is paid by the state a sufficient amount to cover basic needs. In an age where robots take over jobs, this might sound sensible, but as Elon Musk recognised, it  is not  sufficient.

                “I think universal basic income will be necessary” said Musk  “but the much harder challenge is: How will people then have meaning? A lot of people derive meaning from their employment. If you’re not needed, what is the meaning? Do you feel useless? That is a much harder problem to deal with. How do we ensure the future is a future that we want, that we still like?”

              Suppose that  there are no more truck drivers, for example, in 5 years time.  
              How will truck drivers gain any meaning from their life? 
              Bread and circuses?

              We need better routes to meaning and we need to be thinking about this now. 
              An important development is increased psychological research on meaning in life.

              Books like  Emily Esfahani Smith’s The Power of Meaning  will help this cause, as will the First International Meaning Conference to be held at Roehampton, UK in June 2017.  

                     If the first wave of  Positive Psychology focussed on happiness, the second wave needs  to focus on meaning, virtue  and flourishing– how to live a good life. 

                    Psychologists need to help us understand  conditions that are correlated with meaning, virtue and flourishing as well as happiness, and then politicians – at least the ones who choose to listen to experts- can then propose appropriate compassionate  policies.

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