Disabled People: Want To Work? Perhaps You’re Looking Toward The Wrong Future.

I have discussed several aspects of disability here on the blog. I have also discussed anti-careerism, UBI and other issues. Never the two shall meet?

It seems that for many disabled people, the goal is to work if one can. Sometimes, this goal is thrust upon one by otherwise good care providers and disability organizations. Perhaps this was a good goal in the past. But just check out recent best-sellers on how robots will take jobs away and how they are already doing just that, and maybe you’ll change your mind on making employment a goal of rehabilitation. 

Over the past 6 months, I have conducted research, interviewed experts, and even worked on a book by a well-known expert on automation, AI and jobs. Do a quick Google search on these things, and you’ll find that not only do businesses aim for replacing humans with bots where possible, it’s becoming reality. Heck, a bot named Bina48 recently successfully completed a college course! If that’s not a feat in technology, I don’t know what is. It also spells would-be disaster for people who think their college degrees will keep them safe from automation.

Experts have differing views about the future of AI. Some have the dismal view that bots will take over the world and enslaves us. Others, such as myself, have a more positive view. On my view, the recent developments in AI give humans the freedom to do things they always desired to do. Many people who agree with me on this think it’s time for a UBI and to focus on things we love but never seem to have the time or money to do, such as make art, philosophize and learn how to play an instrument.

What does this mean for disabled people? Well, there’s policy issues to consider. If you are on Social Security Disability (or the equivalent in your country), there’s one group of UBI proponents who want to keep safety nets such as these. Others, however, want them gone and a mere UBI for everyone, regardless of ability. It would be wise, then, for people with disabilities to weigh in on these debates, which are mostly taking place among highly educated, well-to-do, abled elites. If you don’t want these people making your policy decisions, you’d better seek these debates out and voice your opinions.

There are also other issues for people with disabilities. For one, employment could no longer be a condition of “wellness.” Personally, I don’t know why employment–rather than overall health–was ever a condition of “wellness.”

Disability organizations may need to make their advocacy a little different, as well. Currently, many disability organizations focus on getting people with disabilities accommodated in the workplace. But if there’s no need for us–and no need to work–these issues are moot.

It seems disability advocacy and activism needs to catch up with current and developing technology.

As for me, I still go by what my doctors say right now. They explain moderation, stress reduction and one psychiatrist even told me outright not to work. Until the time comes when I can work–if that time ever comes–I will occupy myself with hobbies such as this website, which I hope benefits many, many people.

UPDATE: I’d like to offer a few remarks based on feedback I’ve received on this post. This is not intended to be a neoliberal argument and it’s not trying to target people with disabilities, saying they should not be accommodated in the workplace. Instead, the argument is simple: Automation is already here. It’s developing quickly. This affects jobs for everyone, including people with disabilities. One of the goals of rehabilitation, traditionally, has been to gain employment. But the debates about automation have not specifically included problems surrounding disability. I have tried to address a few of those here, such as whether we should have means-tested benefits or not.


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