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The Second Machine Age

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee

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Voltaire beautifully summarized why not when he made the observation quoted at the start of this chapter: “Work saves a man from three great evils: boredom, vice, and need.”6 A guaranteed universal income takes care of need, but not the other two. And just about all the research and evidence we’ve looked at has convinced us that Voltaire was right. It’s tremendously important for people to work not just because that’s how they get their money, but also because it’s one of the principal ways they get many other important things: self-worth, community, engagement, healthy values, structure, and dignity, to name just a few.