Is Universal Basic Income the Answer to an Automated Future?


From NBC News:

“As we innovate ourselves away from conventional work and labor, an unlikely question begins to form: How do we feel about free money?

First floated by 16th-century philosopher Thomas More as a “cure for theft,” basic income is finding new life 500 years later amid concerns over technology edging humans out of the workforce. If advanced machines are taking all the jobs, goes the thinking, then how will people earn money to support themselves? A “universal basic income” in which all citizens receive free money from their government — a figurative tax break just for being alive — is a possible solution.

With all members of a society guaranteed some degree of income regardless of employment status, the ideology aims to provide people with some kind of economic anchor if they are unable to earn on their own.

“We already do this for some kinds of people today,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and author of “The Second Machine Age.” “Just consider social security, Medicare, and welfare — these are types of basic income. As automation makes society richer — unevenly — then there’s scope for a more generous social safety net.”

SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk suggests that universal basic income is the economic tool to deploy in a hypothetically jobless future. His vision of such a time sounds like a hippie dream, in which you pursue your curiosities on an unpaid basis and sustain yourself with free money from the government.”

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