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The threat of AI is real – it is already replacing human jobs

What is necessary now is for governments to think about how they can deliver a universal basic income that sees us through this period

Image: Getty

I work as a freelancer in the creative industries. AI may well deliver the efficiency benefits that Henry Shevlin claims, but the cost will be in human jobs.

I am already experiencing this in what I do; some of the painstaking graphic work it takes me hours to produce (and this after decades of training and experience) with clients can be generated by the clients themselves in seconds by using AI. The quality is a problem, but for those without the
luxury of a budget, cheaper and quicker is a no-brainer.

I have been told I should use AI myself, or that I should pivot to training others to use AI tools. This is like a commercial salesperson being told 10
years ago they should set themselves up as a Facebook ads specialist. In the end, the platforms will win.

What is necessary now is for governments to think about how they can deliver a universal basic income (UBI) that sees us through this period in which technology replaces traditional jobs. You do not have to ask AI to come up with the answer; it is that the platforms should fund it through their
obscene profits. After all, it is our own data, carelessly given away so we can see videos of our friends’ children and dogs, that is powering AI in the first place.
‘Ned Ludd’
Leicester, Leicestershire

Beware Boris
It is inevitable that Boris Johnson will be back as leader of the Conservative Party. He loves the trappings of power, while the Tories exist to be in power and will do anything they can to attain power.

Current projections see them winning around 160 seats whenever Sunak dares to hold the general election. Will the membership (around 170,000) really trust MPs to elect the next leader, trusting the verdict of less than 0.1% of them? Of course not. Johnson will be back, and he will be worse than ever.
Jeremy Flynn

Brexit wounds
I’m not normally good at the quizzes in your paper, but I think I know the answer to the question in Jonty Bloom’s column: “By 2030 Poland’s economy will be bigger than Britain’s. Why are we being left behind?” Six letters, begins with B and ends with T?
Carrie Stiles

Labour pains
Nigel Farage, Ann Widdecombe, James Dyson and now two thirds of Daily Express readers have said Brexit has gone horribly wrong. Polls confirm that this belief is becoming ever more widespread. Yet the Labour Party continues to insist there is no case for Rejoin. Is the party fishing in a body of water that is disappearing because of a kind of political climate change?
Don Adamson
Bradford, West Yorkshire

So Starmer promises Daily Express readers that his future Labour government will reject the single market, the customs unions and free movement in Europe. His desperate clinging on to trying to convert Red Wall
Brexiteers has lost the vote of this 50-year Labour voter, past Labour member and Remainer. I will continue to vote for Mark Drakeford’s Welsh Labour party in Senedd elections, but my vote in national elections will not go to Starmer’s English Labour Party.

I am sure I am not alone among past Labour voters in this.
Chris Clode
Wrexham, Wales

Border battle
In “A history lesson from Vienna” John McTernan writes that “so much of modern British politics is a failure to reckon with our history” and uses as an example the SNP’s “constant re-litigation of the independence referendum”. The latter is a trope well used by the right in Scottish politics.

I can’t see how this view of a backward-looking SNP squares with a party that is opposed to Brexit and that in government has enacted a number of forward-looking measures, some of which are currently blocked by a backward-looking Westminster government.
Bob Black

No PR disaster
James Ball is playing the same old game of “Buggins’s Turn”. Like the Tories, Labour do not want fundamental change – they just want to get their hands on the levers of power for a decade or so. When Labour runs out of steam, back we go to the Tories again. Short-termism is the name of the game.

We need to change the model. The adversarial model that underpins the flip-flop government of which James Ball seems so fond needs to be replaced by a consensus-seeking model.

Long-term thinking is the only antidote for Britain’s slow decline. This will require an end to flip-flop government. Step 1 is PR, to ensure the distribution of MPs reflects the distribution of votes in the election – that is basic democracy. Step 2 is to force parties in the Commons to work together, rather than indulging in the Punch and Judy show we now witness – PM’s Question Time, for example, is a national disgrace.

If Labour would not accept a full PR voting system as the price of working with another party or parties, then they should be made to. The Lib Dems made the basic error of going into coalition with Cameron’s Tories on the weak promise of a referendum on PR. It came as no surprise that they were in due course shafted by the Tories.

If there is a hung parliament next time round, it will be time for the Lib Dems – or other minority parties – to play hard ball on PR. Real change for the better in this country will not come about unless they do.
Stephen Collins
Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

James Ball argues that a balanced (I really do not like “hung”) parliament
will be weak, whereas in the article James criticises, Owen Jones argues that
all would be well. We could well argue that the current government is strong
but it is a brittle strength – it loves a show of force – but when the breaks come, they are catastrophic.

Our present system leads to this style of brittle but weak government with no will to effect long-term reform as both dominant parties are bent only on getting themselves re-elected. Long-term reforms cannot be enacted.

Some means must be found of inserting better checks and balances against our oscillating one-party states. PR will not necessarily do it, but releasing much more power to regions probably would.
Alan Craw
Chesterfield, Derbyshire

How can James Ball ignore the fact that practically every European government is a coalition of different parties? These governments on the whole work quite well and are more democratic than our tired and outdated two-party system.

A hung parliament, should it happen, would show the electorate demanding change – in favour of PR and for rejoining the single market and customs union, and eventually us regaining our place back in the EU.
Anthony Norton
London NW22

One could object to the crass reference to a swear word in James Ball’s “Useless duckers”, but the content was also deficient in quality.

Ball writes of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour: “The ‘saboteurs’ the faithful like to talk about undermining the 2017 election had all left long before the 2019 election”. This omits the important point that the manner of the mass walk-out of some of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet following the Brexit vote was designed to undermine him.

Andrew Neil observed on the Daily Politics that the resignations were being timed to catch the hourly news headlines: almost as if it were an organised coup – which it was.
Keith White
Cheltenham, Gloucester

Spoon feeding
Tim Martin had every right to vote Leave but not to use Wetherspoons’ in-house magazine and beermats to promote Brexit.

JD Wetherspoon is a public company, Martin owns a minority of the shares
and the board should have refused to allow him to use company treasure to
push his own personal political agenda. It would never have happened at any
company I worked in, unless the cause were clearly in the interests of the company itself. And events have shown that Brexit is not in the interests of JDW.
Peter Morris
Via Facebook

Coffee mugs
I’m sure the new Starbucks in Rome will be a success – somewhere for the locals to go and laugh at tourists drinking dishwater…
Wendyl Harris
Via Facebook

Gael force
With reference to Peter Trudgill’s recent column concerning the state of Gaelic in Scotland, I would like to point out that there are signs of a recovery. Both radio and TV programmes on BBC are available for learners and fluent speakers. The internet app Duolingo has been including Gaelic as an optional language as a structured course for three years. There is also a government-sponsored course,

Schools, nursery schools and the University of the Highlands offer Gaelic-medium teaching.

There are also many groups appearing at gigs with a huge Gaelic repertoire.

Bookshops are increasing the availability of traditional and new Gaelic literature, while the Mòd and Fèis (festivals) foster traditional music. We also have dual-language road signs, which are possibly not so popular!
Margot Kerr (Gaelic learner)
Inverness, Scotland

Same old Tory
Mitch Benn suggests in “Tories issue grave warnings” that the Conservative Democratic Organisation is “Democratic” in the “German Democratic Republic” or “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” sense.

He needn’t have travelled so far from home – given how they resist the wishes of the majority in Northern Ireland, he could have added “in the Democratic Unionist Party sense.”
Joe McLaughlin
Bonnyrigg, Scotland

Water palaver
Sorting the sorry saga of sewer overflows is clearly the responsibility of the water companies, but the blame lies with the Tories, who imposed privatisation and fragmentation on the water industry in 1989.

A career in water engineering from 1974 to 2012 confirmed for me that the water environment we all share is best managed holistically, based on natural catchments, as it is a natural public service monopoly. Fragmentation and inappropriate imposition of market economics on natural monopolies has not been a successful experiment.

It would be feasible to remove the capital programme/planning functions from the water companies and combine them with the Environment Agency and Ofwat to create slimmed-down, catchment-based, publicly owned water environment agencies. The water companies could retain time-limited contracts to own, operate and maintain assets and deliver capital programmes. This would introduce a competitive market, while re-establishing a public service approach.

The first step must be to replace Conservative fundamentalism with a
competent Labour government.
Bob Turner
Ponteland, Northumberland

Paper talk
To alleviate the ennui of my cosy, self-satisfied boomer life, today for the first time I picked up TNE. A grey-bearded gentleman scooped up a copy of the Mirror and, glancing at my choice, he growled: “Alastair Campbell!” with a histrionic eye-roll. TNE is a nice, polite read, but I am troubled by the demographic of your contributors. Mostly blokes with pens. I see now what the man might have been hinting at.
Penelope Cronin
Worthing, West Sussex

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