Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks it’s a good idea.
So do Silicon Valley bigwigs like Sam Altman, the president of venture capital firm Y Combinator, and Elon Musk, the CEO of futuristic Tesla Motors.
And now a whole country has jumped into the debate, with Finland offering $635 a month to 2,000 unemployed adults, with no strings attached in a two-year pilot project.
It is the Universal Basic Income (UBI) which is drawing support as a way to offset the fears that smarter machines will threaten jobs and social stability.
“Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract,” Zuckerberg said in his commencement speech at Harvard University this spring.
“We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.”
According to Musk, there really won’t be any other option. “There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation… I am not sure what else one would do.”
The digital transformation is hitting our current workforce the way the industrial revolution did to the workforce of the early 19th century. Two hundred years ago, 70 percent of American workers lived on the farm. Today automation has eliminated all but 1 percent of their jobs, replacing them (and their work animals) with machines.
But, as Kevin Kelly of Wired magazine points out, “the displaced workers did not sit idle. Instead, automation created hundreds of millions of jobs in entirely new fields.
“Those who once farmed were now manning the legions of factories that churned out farm equipment, cars, and other industrial products. Since then, wave upon wave of new occupations have arrived—appliance repairman, offset printer, food chemist, photographer, web designer—each building on previous automation. Today, the vast majority of us are doing jobs that no farmer from the 1800s could have imagined.”
To read his full article, check here.
Will the US and other countries take the plunge like Finland?
The countries, markets, governments and policy problems are very different. But the door is now open for this and better UBI experiments. Economists, poverty experts, elected officials and everyday Joes will be waiting to hear the results when the Finnish study is done in 2019.
Mark your (electronic) calendars!
About the Digital Transformation Series:
Over the next few months Applied Tech President and CEO Kurt Sippel will be exploring “Digital Transformation” in a series of articles with the hope to inform, educate, and discuss its many different facets. Digital transformation is the profound and accelerating transformation of business activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way, with present and future shifts in mind. Kurt will explain how this effects your business, how to best prepare and how to leverage the technology to get the upper hand on your competition.