Not many people, including politicians, are willing to give much thought to the undisputed fact that humanity is facing a gigantic problem.

Or maybe cataclysm is a better word. I am not just talking about global warming but the cataclysm of technology running away on us.

Technology is either going to kill or free us. Do we have any say in the matter? Perhaps, but we may well be beyond that option. Let's be optimistic and look at what technology can do for us first.

There are implications for global warming, energy, the economy and financial systems, employment and income, health care, transport and roads and housing. All these are to do with quality of life for all.


The other and much more sinister side of the same coin gives us surveillance, mind control, Orwellian states and wars being fought by robot soldiers and drones. Depressing stuff.

But let's just have a look at some positives. For instance, take transport, cars and trucks: they will all be electric soon. Great, no more air pollution, reduced carbon emissions. But there are other, more far-reaching implications: cars will be autonomous, drive themselves.

We will not need to own a car, just dial one up and it will be there in a minute, take you to your destination and carry on. Not good news for truck drivers though. And someone better tell the Government: "We do not need more roads, forget about four-laning our expressway!"

Global warming: Did Texas "reap what it sowed" when Hurricane Harvey hit? There are some suggestions from the scientific community that technology may, as well as reducing CO2 pollution, come up with a way to filter carbon and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. It may be wishful thinking but I would not rule it out. In any case Dutch technology could be employed build a sea wall from Tongoio to Clifton to protect Hawke's Bay from rising ocean levels and violent storms.

Energy: As both photovoltaic panels and storage batteries are getting better and cheaper, the future will see a solar electricity system being part of a newly built house as standard practice. Retrofitting systems to existing homes is almost a viable option now. Payback time is something like six or seven years at present and getting shorter as the equipment gets cheaper and electricity charges keep on going up.

The economy, banks: The economic philosophy that has resulted in unacceptable levels of inequality and poverty is now to be replaced by something else, hopefully better. The banks generate huge profits for (overseas) shareholders by charging captive customers excessive interest on loans.

In the first instance the Government will need to take over this function, foregoing the usurious profits. Technology will make changes to revenue gathering systems possible. This will see the advent of a financial transaction tax, foreign exchange (speculation) tax and ways to stop tax evasion/avoidance.

What is hard to fathom at the moment is the effect of the (internet) blockchain and bitcoin developments that may well "put paid" to most of the above speculations.

Health care: The already mindblowing advances in medical technology are coming hard and fast.

The tools for extending high quality life will see people well past 100 playing golf and travelling the world. Only problem is: can "we" afford it? Unless basic human rights such as full medical care, good education, adequate housing, etc, are implemented only the (very) rich will benefit.

Finally, employment and related issues: One of the great paradoxes of our time is that there is enough of everything in this country and yet many children go to school hungry. Many schools are inadequate, teaching is done in passages and halls. Teachers are underpaid and undervalued.

The parents of these children are members of the precariat class, they live precarious lives either on inadequate wages or as recipients of arbitrary and mostly meagre social support.

Technology is making this worse every day. It is not just the bank tellers, meter readers and all the other redundant workers, soon they will be joined by truck and taxi drivers, accountants, lawyers and even medical practitioners of all kinds. What are we going to do with these good people?

The inevitable answer: They, and all of us, will be paid a Universal Unconditional Basic Income which will be enough to pay for our basic needs. Those with a job will still get UBI as well and will be "well off".

• Karl Matthys is the Democrats for Social Credit's candidate in the Napier electorate. All opinions are the writer's and not those of Hawke's Bay Today.