ʻATENISI INSTITUTE

An institute for critical education in the South Pacific

A ʻAtenisi picture

Inducted fellows with Dr Helu and Hon PM Sevele (2009)

April 2019 – Kiwi Ethics Prof. Calls for Wealth Tax to Rescue Sociality in Coming Employment Meltdown

missing picture: agar.jpg

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is worth US$ 131 billion, Microsoft’s Bill Gates retains US$ 97 billion, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet US$ 82 billion. Ought the U.S. tax its super-rich to head off digital dystopia?

Yes, argued Kiwi professor Dr Nicholas Agar at ‘Atenisi’s 5th Annual ‘I.F. Helu Memorial Lecture on 29 April. Agar, who teaches ethics at Wellington’s Victoria University, reviewed the remedy for upcoming unemployment proposed in his recent book, How to be Human in the Digital Economy, published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press outside of Boston.

As Agar sees it, the interaction of robotics, artificial intelligence, and cybernetics will inevitably render most occupations obsolete. What will happen when a few digital oligarchs are able to produce a full compliment of goods with just a fraction of the current workforce?

Rather than tolerate mass unemployment in the automated future, Agar advises democracies to skim the outsized profits of digital entrepreneurs to rescue community. Such service might include entitled career guidance, psychological counseling, continuing education, child and senior care, financial and retirement planning, and the nurturing of community art, dance, and theatre.

The result of such an initiative, Agar concludes, would not be a digital dystopia of oligarchy, unemployment, and viral emotional depression … but rather a revitalised society re-dedicated to compassion and mutuality.