Artist Maël Hénaff has delivered a novel approach to the problem of unemployment in one of Britain’s worst affected areas – utilizing the very technologies that are putting many of the area’s residents out of work.
Jaywick, on the east coast of Essex, suffers an unemployment rate of 60% – many put out of work by the rise of automation and other emerging technologies. While Hénaff's project does not bring jobs to the area, it helped advance debate among this skeptical community away from the negatives and allowed them to see the benefits automated technologies can bring.
To this end, Hénaff collaborated with the people of Jaywick, creating a workshop where locals would build fully functioning cryptocurrency miners – powered by the English Channel’s strong tides – allowing the community to generate – not only crypto rewards – but a secondary, shared supplementary income.
The artist said that although these crypto miners were only able to generate around five US cents worth of cryptocurrency per hour, now they know how to build them a few people were starting to build their own miners.
This call to action aims to not only outline the very real potential of automated technologies but to also stimulate debate as to what we want our collective future to look like, and how we can ensure that future technologies are democratic and support the many and not the few.