For the last few years, there has been a huge debate about how automation will possibly destroy tens of millions of jobs; this fear has even moved Silicon Valley luminaries to join the basic income bandwagon. At the P2P Foundation, we have always insisted that though automation may indeed affect an important number of future jobs, the real issue is really where the surplus profit is invested, and who makes the decisions. There is indeed no dearth of demand for meaningful activity in this world, beginning with a huge need for regenerative economic practices that restore the ecosystem. Indy Johar makes a related and important point: the jobs that may be destroyed are jobs in which humans are really an extension of the machine, and in that sense, paradoxically, it is an opportunity to move beyond jobs, to a civilisation based on meaningful work and engagement. Last year, I joined the labour mutual SMart, which aims to replace subordinated labor, where you exchange your freedom for a wage, to post-subordinated labour, but with regular salaries and social protections. Succeeding in this shift will be a vital part of the commons transition. Thanks to Indy Johar to bring up this important topic.

Originally posted on

We face a paradigm shift in the role of humans in our economy — The rise of the real C-Economy.

Indy Johar: Most of our human economy has since the industrial & managerial revolution functioned to fullfill and comply with roles & processes for predefined value and imagination.

The industrial economy made humans “labour”, designed, focused and instrumentalised in the fullfillment of corporate value creation and the imagination of the few.

This industrial human economy is coming to an end; we have begun a transformation which is massively signalled by a confluence of drivers and trends, from the rise of innovation labs & start up culture – all seeking to grow the innovation pie of cities, to the arrival of platform corporates, driving the disintermediation of middle management, to the growing capability of AI, automation and algorithms to manifest the reality of post managerial city. In fact it could be argued – our current paranoia of Brexit and Trump – extends from a deep worry for the growing redundancy of human value & labour and our perceived future as an overhead and liability to the capital class.

The above list could go on, but what is becoming apparent is process driven, codifiable labour – “jobs for bad robots” will be automated and commodified – it is only a matter of time and its also time to say good riddance. We need to liberate Humans from having to be “bad robots” as the industrial revolution liberated us from being bad domestic animals.

But the emancipation of Humans from labour – does not mean a redundancy of Humans, in fact its means the freedom of Humans from labour to discover what it means to be human in the 21st Century.

This is a future which needs us to embrace the awesome capacity of humans – for discovery, for expeditions into the unknown, to mine the future, to care, create, dream.

This is a future which needs us to invest and create the conditions to unlock the full potential and capacity for all citizens to care, create and discover.

This is a future not designed to instrumentalise and passively enslave humans and drive compliance – through debt and wage incentives but to use “Universal Basic Income” to unleash and liberate purpose, care, collaboration and the capacity to dream and disrupt the future.

This is a future which requires us to reimagine “Management” from being a means of control to a means to emancipate, nurture grow care and capacity.

This is a future in which the conditions for unleashing the full capacity of all humans must be the new 21st century public utility – where spatial justice is foundational to unleashing our democratic humanity.

This is a future we requires us to start by embracing the relatively infinite possibility of humans – as opposed to our limited capacity to make roles and manage process.

This is a future which is not about supply demand matching labour markets but about making the fertile conditions to grow the dreamers, disrupters and discovers of the future.

This is a future in which humans are not an overhead on the balance sheet but its foundational fragile asset.

This is a future where the human(e) corporate will be defined by its capacity to drive the 4C revolution — collaboration, care, creativity, contextual intelligence powered by democratized agency – not its aggregative efficiency to manage financial capital and procure in scale; these efficiencies are likely to distributed and platformed to the whole economy – with rise of zero overhead platform bureaucracy.

This is a future in which investing for the human development of an organisation manifests on its asset register.

This is a future which embraces a tomorrow, where humans are the source of economy not redundant to its function.

This is a future Beyond Labour, embracing the coming Human(e) Revolution.

Dark Matter Laboratories is a Strategic Design Studio at working at the interface of Disruptive Technology, Human Development & System Change with world leading organisations to transform and embrace the future.


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1 Comment Beyond Humans as Labour

  1. AvatarMichael P Totten

    Hello Michel, the arguments are compelling for some form of universal basic income (UBI), but what I never see addressed is the harsh reality that in non-homogeneous societal populations (whether mixed races, ethnicities, religions, ideologies) we are witnessing the vice grip of polarization. Not just in the US., but in many other nations. I would like to see any and all discussions about UBI concretely and creatively address surmounting this polarization, which seems imperative prior to any serious scaling of UBI beyond pilots. thanks!

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