In the comments of a recent Continuations post the crowd got to talking a bit about Universal Basic Income (U.B.I. – one of the common topics of Albert Wenger’s blog that I would encourage everyone to get involved in)…and it sparked me to leave the following comment ( which I’m now re-blogging in full thanks to encouragement to do so from Albert )
I think part of the challenge in this general topic is that there’s really a lot of things to unpack. I believe Universal Basic Income ( U.B.I. ) is really about a number of things…though the name has “income” in it, and that’s the core of the solution, salary is actually not that big of a part of it.
In fact, here are the top three things I think the most about in relation to all of this:
But I think that the reality is it would be a *GREAT* problem for the human race to have.
Sure there would be lots of people who “drop out” and probably contribute very little to the world (even more than we have today)…but my counter argument is that
A.) Because technology is taking care of most core/crucial things, they really wouldn’t be costing or hurting the rest of us anyway
B.) It would also significantly up the number that both could and would contribute to things they are naturally suited towards and interested in (things that often today people can only treat as “hobbies” because they have “real jobs”).
C.) If the core problems of life are solved or addressed for the majority of the world (something we haven’t really been able to do yet in all of history), we finally get to move up the ladder to focus on new core problems (things that are actually bigger long term problems or needs for our species – like the health of the planet, long term power supplies, space exploration, etc.)
Why I bring all of this up is that, while things like Baumol’s Cost Disease do speak towards an interesting dilemma, I don’t think they directly relate to the general intentions of U.B.I.
Actually if anything, the human skills that are still required and have essentially topped out in terms of production will benefit because U.B.I. will basically ensure that “best of the best” (who are interested, passionate, and dedicated) continue to push the limits on these fronts – and the things that technology can’t improve are specifically the things that will exponentially grow in value over time.
…anyway just my 2 cents after digging a bit into this topic over the past year or two.
Universal Basic Income is a fascinating topic to me, and so I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
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Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.
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