Tackle unemployment through social business: Yunus

Nobel laureate emphasises entrepreneurship

Mohammad Yunus

Technology could be a blessing or a curse. But Nobel peace laureate Muhammad Yunus chose to put the spotlight squarely on Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) dangerous potential to take away jobs in quick, unprecedented ways.

“Half of the people will be losing their jobs. It will happen very fast,” said Yunus, preparing the ground for a people-centric approach to technology, development and economics. 

In Bengaluru to attend the 8th Social Business Day, Yunus was brutally frank in calling out AI’s potential for irreparable damage. “What do we do with these jobless people? They talk about giving everyone some universal basic income so that they can take care of themselves. Is this the fate of human beings that they become beggars ultimately? Is this the direction you want to take?” 

The scary scenario would only get worse with AI fighting wars, killing people, settling scores wherever they want. Yunus found this unregulated, unquestioned run of new technology “horrible”, the fear disturbingly real about large-scale unemployment triggered by both technology and a rich-oriented financial system. 

Today’s banks and financial systems clearly exist for the rich. Yunus, the Grameen Bank founder and the father of social business and micro-credit, saw this as the fundamental cause for wealth concentration. In India, the top one percent own 73% of the nation’s wealth. 

He acknowledged that India had issued 10 licences for small finance banks to date. “But we need hundreds and thousands more,” he said. Financial institutions had to be rethought, redesigned to ensure they are available to everyone, “not some privileged few people who can get any amount of money they want.” 

Social business has to be introduced and practised, the education system should integrate it as an option to redesign the economy. “If your economy is a 50:50 social business and money-making economy, to that extent, the concentration of wealth disappears,” elaborated Yunus.

The current economic theory wrongly assumes that the ultimate destiny of a human is to find a job. “This is the seed of wealth concentration. It is ridiculous. By nature, we are entrepreneurs. That’s what our history says. We are go-getters and problem-solvers.” 

Everybody has a business idea, can turn social entrepreneurs. The key question articulated by Yunus was this: “If illiterate, poor women from rural areas in Bangladesh can become entrepreneurs with micro-credits of 2,000 rupees and 5,000 rupees, who says these youth cannot do that?” 

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