Thursday

Robot Takeover - Who Cares? Free Money For All!

The robots are coming, the robots are coming! A recently released study from the Council of Economic Advisors projects that people making less than $20 per hour have an 83% chance of eventually losing their job to a robot. That's a jarring revelation, and one that demands attention.

What are all these displaced humans to do, and how would they support themselves? One concept is that of a Universal Basic Income (UBI), where citizens are given money by their government on a monthly basis, with no strings attached. Nutty as that may sound, the concept is ready to be tested in some European countries.



It's hard to foresee if such a thing will simply create a generation of unmotivated people, or a group that will take up other worthwhile or noble pursuits in their new-found free time. I would suspect the former, but hope for the latter. It may of course take more than one generation to sort itself out.
The response to UBI in the U.S. has been mixed at best, with much of the enthusiasm for exploring the concept coming from Silicon Valley. One of its biggest proponents has been Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, the firm that has helped startups such as Reddit, Airbnb and Dropbox hook up with investors.

In late January, Altman announced that Y Combinator will be doing its own research—specifically a five-year project in which a random group of people “who are driven and talented, but come from poor backgrounds” will be provided with a basic income.
Smithsonian

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