Meet Flippy, the burger-flipping robot

Yeah. It’s a high heat, high grease environment. Does it have to be de-greased every once in while?

This is wrong.

Early results from just giving people money have worked pretty well.

There should be more research done, and I’m positive that the design matters significantly, but to categorically state, evidence-free, that humans “just don’t function well” is feeding into a cynical narrative of human motivation that hasn’t been born out yet in practice.

The root of the issue here is this internalized Calvinism that leads to someone viewing spending money on “immoral” things as somehow indicative of an overall moral failing of the person that cannot be remedied. This judgement then serves as sufficient reason to dehumanize them and allow them to die if they’re not going to spend their money the “right way.” It’s a toxic kind of elitism that condescends to know what is best for people.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. “Cigarettes and Lotto” are psychological crutches for a hope-crushing life.

Abandon the idea that you can paternistically tell people what they should spend their money on, and accept that some people will spend it unwisely. The important thing is that, even when they do, they are fed and educated and cared for by the rest of us.


See also Chaffetz’s idiotic and thoroughly debunked comment re: iPhones and health insurance. This smug Calvinism is a big trope amongst conservatives and, ironically, Libertarians. When they’re finally forced to accept a UBI due to Flippy and his cousins, they’re going to make sure that the bulk of the money is only spent on moral and proper things (which – surprise! – will mainly benefit landlords and large corporations).


There’s still room for humans in the nanny business…


Which leads to the question of whether all of us, or just some of us, are entitled to spend taxpayer’s money on our individual psychological crutches of choice.


The idea of basic universal income is that it is universal, after all.

But that doesn’t sound like your major concern. Your language here is dripping with sermonizing. “Entitled”, as if basic human dignity is something that not everyone deserves by virtue of simply existing? “Crutches,” as if we all don’t self-medicate in ways large and small?

What makes you a better person to decide what my money should be spent on than me? We trust individuals with a vote, with a gun, with a car, but somehow trusting them with $10 is a bridge too far?

That’s the kind of paternalistic attitude that breaks these things before they even get off the ground.

There’s still a lot of unknown details to work out in the design of the thing, but the truth is that “human nature” doesn’t seem to be the major stumbling block. The major stumbling block seems to be people who imagine that they are better at deciding what a person needs than that person is, often under the guise of not wanting to be “taken advantage of.” This can actually be the case in certain narrow instances (illness, criminal activity), but those narrow instances don’t invalidate the whole thing.


Should have seen that coming w/ the excess cord loop but didn’t LOL


My concern is this: Given a basic universal income, lots of people will spend it on shelter, food, education, etc.

Some will not. I don’t care if they spend their check on liquor, lotto tickets, or weed, as long as they don’t come back asking me for more when they run out of money to buy food. For those who fall into that category, it makes more sense to provide them with a dormitory and a cafeteria than a check.

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I can agree that the way we design the systems that supply these basic essentials is important, and I can get on board with free housing (a la Utah’s initiative to house the homeless) and free kitchens.


…Why not both? I mean we all agree that section 8, WIC, and social security don’t actually exis…

Wait a second. I see what I did there :smiling_imp:


So maybe we should counteract this with other things besides jobs. It’s like we are stuck inside the box here. People talk about guaranteed minimum income; maybe it would work. Sure, it would offset any productivity gains from robots – but at the same time, the (quasi?) utopian goal of robots is to release you to do other things, not only reduce costs. Besides, a highly productive society that has no one to sell to will have its own problems – and the GMI could be low*, given that robot-produced goods should be really cheap.

It is not a simple matter, but in the end, things will work out.


So, what you’re saying is, you’re willing to say “screw it and forget it, this is a bad idea and we should never implement it,” when a small minority of people will abuse their taxpayer-supported privilege in a way that you disapprove of?

Then why do you keep supporting American cops?


OMG ! My childhood store… Just drive by with the car’s windows open & you could smell it from a block away !

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But isn’t that the life you get with a dole payment? I just can’t see anybody having a good life (good for themselves or others) without some sort of meaningful employment.

I like having a job. When I was out of work I was miserable, even though money wasn’t a problem for me. I don’t plan to retire. If I didn’t work I wouldn’t exercise. And without exercise I will die.

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Yeah, but most people’s jobs aren’t like that. Shit, I’d be all over UBI like white on rice, then do something fun & interesting for the extra cash needed to make life nice.


So, essentially, you’re extrapolating from your singular example to be universal? And that’s your citation for how human beings don’t function well with UBI? Okay.


I think you’re conflating having “a good life” with “meaningful employment.”

Consider the guy who must chisel away at the deposits of fat and human excrement that build up in our sewers. He literally unsticks shit clogs for a living. His job is lousy (a good candidate for a robot!). He doesn’t do it because it’s meaningful, he does it because it’s profitable and maybe he’s got a strong stomach. What he finds meaning from is his wife, his kids, the old car he managed to refurbish, his kickass barbeque…those things don’t pay the rent, but they’re where his meaning comes from. I’d LOVE for him to just be able to do more of those things, and not have to clean human excrement to be able to do them. Maybe people pay him if he does a good job refurbishing a car, they buy the car from him, he uses that money to go buy another rustbucket to fix up. He goes to his son’s baseball games and so raises a kid who has a great relationship with his father. Those are big gains to the place he lives!

On the other hand, consider someone with meaningful employment - like a teacher. Her satisfaction doesn’t come from her paycheck. If could just push a button to get a house and a car and food for her family, she’d do it - and she’d still do her job, because what’s rewarding to her isn’t the “employment,” it’s the students she’s working with and the generation she’s helping to shape. And, arguably, anyone who is teaching for a paycheck (treating it like the sewer-clearer does his job) probably shouldn’t HAVE to do it! If they want to quit, they should be able to, without negative consequences! The people I want teaching my kids are the people who WANT to be teaching my kids!

It’s not often in this world where you find a job that is both very rewarding for you financially, and very rewarding for you personally, where the intrinsic motivations match the extrinsic rewards. According to free market fundamentalists, that’s what a free market would produce, but it doesn’t, because free markets are subject to manipulation by those with a lot of capital, and they will never pay the shit-shoveler and the teacher more than the investment banker and the IT expert (though by all rights, in a fair market, they would!)

I think everyone in this world should find things that they want to do, and then they should do them. If those things can be profitable, excellent. If those things cannot be profitable (because someone is going to have to care for that autistic kid and that austistic kid probably ain’t gonna pay you for it), you should still be able to do it, without giving up your basic rights as a human being to be fed, to live safely, to have an education, etc…

Mike Rowe has some interesting insights here, and while I don’t 100% agree with everything he says here, I think his take is a refreshing and necessary antidote, and all too relevant for the roboticized world.


That right there is where conservatives and Libertarians run into problems with the concept. Given the changing economy, a lot of them are coming to terms with the concept of a basic income, but only for the “deserving.” For most American conservatives and many Libertarians, “deserving” usually means white, often means male, and sometimes means Christian. Right-wing populist regimes are built on offering goodies like a UBI to “deserving” supporters, and denying them to everyone else.

Absent a real descent into fascism, that’s not workable. Instead, the neoliberal twist to a UBI will be to specify “acceptable” ways to spend (but never save) the money and “deserving” vendors: landlords, “trust” (i.e. crony) corporations like Walmart, for-profit health insurers, consumer debt companies, etc. Thus, people aren’t starving and rioting, a sham consumer economy chugs along, and the rich get richer.

Back to the post to which you were responding, I’m sure that tobacco companies and for-profit lotteries will be designated “deserving” vendors under that scheme, places to spend the meagre funds left over once the landlord and the (for-profit) power and water utilities and the Walmart grocery store have been paid by the mandatory proportion of the BI. If this scheme comes to pass, he’ll be changing his tune assuming that he’s still the libertarian Rotarian Socialist he is now and will claim that the system “supports capitalism.”