Universal Basic Income

Ok, so don't get too excited here, we're trying something new. Even though the newsletter and social media feeds are generally, you know, timely, aka "the news most vital to our survival as a species", this is our first collection of items that were news but stand the test of time (so far, we think) and can help educate you on a specific train of thought. Basically a 101 for whatever the hell the header says above.

In this case, that means Universal Basic Income, or UBI, which, once again, is not a venereal disease. Of course, before you understand why UBI is important, and controversial, you've gotta learn about robots and AI. Let's dive in.

AI and Automation Are About to Implode US Blue Collar Jobs

According to the MIT Technology Review, 83 percent of jobs that pay less than $20 an hour are under threat from automation. Simply put, as technology makes things like ordering a cheeseburger, buying groceries, and shipping goods, require fewer human beings involved, the number of jobs available for poor Americans will shrink dramatically.

Chinese Companies Count on Robots as Workforce Shrinks

China, in 2013, became the world’s largest market for industrial robots, surpassing all of Western Europe, according to the International Federation of Robotics. In 2015, Chinese manufacturers bought roughly 67,000 robots, about a quarter of global sales, and demand is projected to more than double to 150,000 robots annually by 2018.

Chinese Factory Replaces 90% of Human Workers With Robots. Production Rises by 250%, Defects Drop by 80%

According to Monetary Watch, the Changying Precision Technology Company focuses on the production of mobile phones and uses automated production lines. The factory used to be run by 650 employees, but now just 60 people get the entire job done, while robots take care of the rest. 

When Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld Ran a UBI Experiment for Nixon

Together they supervised the New Jersey Graduated Income Work Experiment, which ran from 1968 to 1971, at the tail end of the “war on poverty”introduced by Lyndon B. Johnson.

Where Machines Could Replace Humans--And Where They Can't (Yet)

Last year, we showed that currently demonstrated technologies could automate 45 percent of the activities people are paid to perform and that about 60 percent of all occupations could see 30 percent or more of their constituent activities automated, again with technologies available today. In this article, we examine the technical feasibility, using currently demonstrated technologies, of automating three groups of occupational activities: those that are highly susceptible, less susceptible, and least susceptible to automation. 

Industrial Revolution Comparisons Aren't Helpful

The shift out of agricultural jobs, while eventually a boon for virtually all of humanity, brought significant problems along the way. This time probably won’t be different, and that’s exactly why we should be concerned.

From the Job Loop to the Knowledge Loop (via Universal Basic Income)

The real lack of imagination is to think that we must be stuck in the job loop simply because we have been in it for a century and a half. This is to confuse the existing system with humanity’s purpose.

Labor is not what humans are here for. Instead of the job loop we should be spending more of our time and attention in the knowledge loop.

Meet the Cobots: Humans and Robots Together on the Factory Floor

A lighter weight, mobile plug and play generation of industrial robot is arriving on the factory floor to collaborate safely with human workers thanks to advances in sensor and vision technology, and computing power.

Could UBI Be the 'Social Vaccine' of the 21st Century?

For those not familiar with this old idiom, it means it’s less costly to avoid problems from ever happening in the first place, than it is to fix problems once they do. It also happens to be the entire logic behind the invention of the vaccine, and it is my belief that universal basic income has the same potential.

Obama: My Successor Will Govern a Country Being Transformed by AI

The White House signaled that it believes future presidents should try to shape how AI technology evolves and is deployed, but it also conceded that it’s unclear how to do that. “This is an inflection point,” said White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, who moderated a panel on the challenges in AI. “[Current progress] will either keep going or crap out if we don’t handle it correctly.”

The Future of Not Working

GiveDirectly, a non-profit, is in the process of registering roughly 40 (Kenyan) villages with a total of 6,000 adult residents, giving those people a guaranteed, 12-year-long, poverty-ending income. An additional 80 villages, with 11,500 residents all together, will receive a two-year basic income. With this initiative, GiveDirectly — with an office in New York and funded in no small part by Silicon Valley — is starting the world’s first true test of a universal basic income. 

The Productivity Paradox: Why We're Getting More Innovation but Less Growth

Rapid technological innovation is real, and so is slow economic growth. In fact, in a sense the innovation is causing the slow growth. 

Call it the productivity paradox, and recognize that it explains a lot about the current state and the future direction of the American economy.

The Brave New World of Robots and Lost Jobs

The political debate needs to engage the taboo topic of guaranteeing economic security to families — through a universal basic income, or a greatly expanded earned-income tax credit, or a 1930s-style plan for public-works employment. Ranting about bad trade deals won’t begin to address the problem.