Massive Technological Unemployment Without Redistribution: A Case for Cautious Optimism

  • Bartek ChomanskiEmail author
Original Paper


This paper argues that even though massive technological unemployment will likely be one of the results of automation, we will not need to institute mass-scale redistribution of wealth (such as would be involved in, e.g., instituting universal basic income) to deal with its consequences. Instead, reasons are given for cautious optimism about the standards of living the newly unemployed workers may expect in the (almost) fully-automated future. It is not claimed that these predictions will certainly bear out. Rather, they are no less likely to come to fruition than the predictions of those authors who predict that massive technological unemployment will lead to the suffering of the masses on such a scale that significant redistributive policies will have to be instituted to alleviate it. Additionally, the paper challenges the idea that the existence of a moral obligation to help the victims of massive unemployment justifies the coercive taking of anyone else’s property.


Automation Basic income Technological unemployment Artificial intelligence 



The author would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for this journal for a range of very helpful suggestions and comments on a previous draft of this paper. The author also benefited from discussions about the topics covered in this paper with Ben Yelle, Katy Shorey, Ron Sandler, and the students in his Technology and Human Values course at Northeastern University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and ReligionNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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