If the forecasts are right, many of us could soon be automated out of the workplace: refugees to robots that can do jobs faster, cheaper, and with fewer complaints. If so, the future could be an insecure one—a constant scramble between gigs, odd jobs, and whatever-you-can-get.
For a somewhat humorous taste of what that might be like, see The Robots Are Coming Today?, a new board game on Kickstarter. Your goal is to surf the waves of insecurity and come out ahead with enough "alternative income" to meet your expenses.
You start the game by choosing a profession card—postal worker, massage therapist, accountant, and so on. Then you choose a means to carry out your work, from starting a new business to relying on government benefits. Then, you turn over event cards that throw you in all kinds of directions:
Your best friend starts a successful cuddling business. When she needs an extra pair of arms she hires you to platonically hug strangers. Increase your alternative income by $500 per month.
Pirate hackers hold your business for ransom. Pay $400 to buy them Bitcoins in the hopes they leave your business alone.
Your country decides to start phasing in a basic income. Increase your alternative income by $500 per month.
The game is being developed by Sarah Rogers, a games enthusiast (and independent contractor) living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. "I just thought it might be fun to have some things that a normal person could do if they're concerned about having their job automated away," she says in an interview.
You start with $1,000 and can borrow money, or downsize, as the game goes on (for instance, by getting rid of your car). The player to your right acts as an auditor (to make sure you don't cheat) as well as a financial adviser (so you don't put your money into something stupid). The player most in positive territory by the end of the game—which is time-limited—wins.
It sounds a little too close to work for comfort, but the game may have educational as well as entertainment value, like, say, Cashflow (which Rogers says is an inspiration). One way or another—whether it's through games play or a basic income—we need to start preparing for a more automated future.
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