You'd implement a Guaranteed Basic Income.
In a capitalist society "jobs" serve a few major purposes for the people and society. In order of importance...
- Efficiently produce resources the society needs.
- Distribute wealth (ie. get paid).
- Give a sense of purpose.
Good automation means unpaid robots will now be producing the resources, and cheaper than people would (else why use robots). This throws the whole system out of whack. Now robots are producing the resources. The wealth is going to the owners and people who maintain and oversee the robots. And robots don't need a sense of purpose. As more jobs are automated, there are less jobs for people. CGP Grey has a good video on this problem called Humans Need Not Apply arguing why we're not going to find new jobs for humans this time.
This causes a serious problem for a capitalist society, how do you distribute your wealth if there aren't enough jobs? Our current solution is to make jobs up. "Jobs programs" flip the priorities.
- Distribute wealth (ie. get paid).
- Give a sense of purpose.
Efficiently produce resources the society needs.
The most important purpose of a jobs program is to distribute wealth. Efficient production is now the lowest consideration: things still get produced, but robots would do it better.
Job programs are a social welfare program in disguise. They drag down the whole economy by deliberately producing resources inefficiently in order to distribute wealth to more people. When you hear someone touting that their bridge construction project will "create jobs" that is an inefficient social welfare program.
Jobs programs are the current solution many western democracies have taken, and they will eventually as more and more jobs are taken over by automation. Even "white-collar" jobs will fall to automation.
The problem is traditional capitalism relies on jobs to distribute wealth. It needs an alternative. That alternative is Guaranteed Basic Income. Everyone, regardless of how much they make, gets an income; this eliminates all the overhead of determining who should get what. People who earn a lot of money will pay their basic income back in taxes.
Ideally this income is above the poverty line, then it's a basic income, and it has some very positive knock on effects. Most social welfare programs can go away, you don't need food stamps if you have enough money to buy food. People and families are much more stable: they no longer have to worry about paying the rent, feeding themselves and their families, affording health care, and so on. Children can focus on getting a good education. Parents can focus on raising children. Adults can focus on whatever they want to do.
Economic-based crime drops: theft, domestic abuse, terrorism, drug abuse... these all have roots in the desperation being poor brings. Police forces can be cut. Government anti-crime surveillance programs are less urgent. Public resources no longer have to be considered with being used as impromptu homeless shelters or stolen.
There's many different ways to fund this including negative income tax, social dividend on profits from commonly owned resources, and by reducing or eliminating wasteful means-tested social welfare programs which are no longer necessary.
This hybrid capitalist/socialist system is known as market socialism. In this system money and the market don't go away, it's still a measure used to determine utility and allocate resources, but there's other bottom lines, the "triple bottom line" including social and environmental considerations, to measure now well society is working.
So robots make stuff, and people buy stuff with the money they get from their basic income; that's basic Keynesian demand-driven economics. But there's two problems: what's the incentive to work, and what do all those out of work adults do?
Remember jobs do three things, and one of them is to provide people with a sense of purpose. Now that their basic needs are met, what do all these people do? Most people's lives are centered around their jobs, now they have 8-12 hours a day back.
Some will just screw around: play video games, drink and smoke, watch TV, have sex... which is fine, that's what most people do right now anyway. The difference is they will no longer be dragged down and exhausted by having a miserable job that they probably hate and can be better done by robots. They also won't have financial worries and can go about their lives.
The idea that it's ok to not have a job rankles a lot of people. There's mindset that working is good, no matter whether that work is actually productive or not. This mindset will have to change to accept that the goal is not work, the goal is efficient production. I have news for you: most of the population already isn't productive. Training and paying more people than you need to build a bridge or make your food is a waste. It's more productive to pay them a basic income to stay home and let robots do their job.
The sense of purpose provided by jobs will have to be replaced with something else, and this is the biggest open ended issue for a transition to basic income. Once people have an extra 10 hours of free time a day and no pressing economic fears, some people will look for something to motivate them. This could be their family. They could go back to school and train in a field they want to pursue rather than one that will make them a living. They could get involved in their community: start an urban farm, fix up their local infrastructure, help out their neighbors. All these things we now don't have the time for because we're out earning money (or the money for because we have the time but no job and thus no money). All of these things contribute to society and the economy either directly (selling fresh produce from your garden) or indirectly (spending more time with your kids).
Others will continue to go out and make money. They'll either be motivated by wanting more stuff, or they'll simply have the entrepreneurial spirit. Those two human drives are not going away. More people can chase their dreams rather than being stuck in a safe job just to ensure they can pay the bills.
So you're left with a society where a class of people live off the resources generated by another class. That might seem parasitic, but it's symbiotic. The person who teaches your kids might do so because they enjoy teaching, not for a big salary. The food you eat might be grown and prepared by people who enjoy farming and cooking. Once class produces things and another class takes care of people.
Free Software is a microcosm of this effect. The computers and web sites you use every day were written by, or are based on, software developed by enthusiast developers and then given away. Without this huge, robust, free computer infrastructure we would not have the sort of powerful computers and services you use every day and that make so much money.
What about the people who decide to sit on their couch in their underwear eating mayonnaise out of the jar and watching The Price Is Right all day? They're the "cost" for great economic and social freedom. People get to do what they want to do, how they want to do it, without worrying about how they'll feed, clothe and house themselves. They're the "cost" of falling crime and reduced government intrusion into our lives. Seems like a bargain.