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France ponders whether technology advancements will lead to work-free future?

A candidate in the French presidential election believes that a 'digital revolution' will eventually lead to a work-free future. Socialist nominee Benoit Hamon has proposed that France adopt a universal basic income - a state handout of €750 a month - which is made to everyone in preparation for the impending 'digital revolution'.

The proposal has created widespread debate - and has been the catalyst for the French public asking themselves serious questions regarding what role will work have in a future that will be populated by AI robots, and autonomous transportation?

Under a socialist government, France introduced a minimum working week of 35 hours in 1998 - the logic behind that initiative was to share around increasingly scarce jobs. However, many French companies believe that this policy has made the country uncompetitive in the global market.
Hamon is aiming to be chosen as the socialist candidate for the presidential election later this week - and in relation to the proposal he said: "I expect the digital revolution is going to be increasingly rare, and we need to prepare for that."

If he becomes the socialist nominee this weekend - it would provide another boost for a radical idea that has some high-profile business and economist supporters, as well as many critics. The majority identifies the government's main role to be creating and providing employment - viewing it as not just economically important, but of obvious social benefits.

Hamon's socialist opponent, former French Prime Minster, Manuel Valls dismissed his radical proposals in a debate in which he emphatically declared: "I'm for a society of work. The message of universal income is one of "discouragement, of abdication, some jobs would be destroyed, but others will emerge."

However, Hamon and others are totally convinced that robots and automation will make human toil seem old fashioned, and will offer us greater leisure time. Hamon added: "The project that I propose is a long-term project."

Even if he secures the socialist nomination for the presidential election in April and May, political forecasters are predicting a bleak outcome for Hamon.

In his long-term vision, Hamon can count on the support of American business luminary Elon Musk, the head of electric vehicle group Tesla, and renowned left-leaning French economist Thomas Piketty. Musk admitted last November that "There's a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income due to automation. I'm not sure what else we can do."