Could a universal basic income (UBI) be the answer to income inequality in an increasingly automated world? One US group is investing $10 million to find out. The Economic Security Project is a coalition of investors, activists, and technology companies committed to spending the next two years exploring the feasibility of a UBI for US citizens.
The work will follow up on previous trials of the UBI, which have shown promising but inconsistent results. (Advocates of the idea claim the programs were under-funded and too short-lived to prove the concept one way or another.) Research has generally shown direct cash transfers to be more helpful than other forms of aid in poor nations, but it’s unclear exactly how matters will play out in a more developed country.
The ESP funds will be used in a variety of ways over the next two years: while there will be some unconditional cash stipends delivered to US citizens, it appears that work will mainly be done through state and local basic income campaigns rather than the organization itself. Some of the funds will also be donated to fund nonprofit research into the best ways to implement UBI and on advocacy efforts to influence political policy.
While a universal income may sound like a handout, proponents of the idea believe it will become increasingly necessary as technology advances. One high-profile backer is Elon Musk, who recently told CNBC he believes in the near future, there simply won’t be enough jobs to keep the economy afloat otherwise. But his vision of the future isn’t completely grim: he believes we’ll simply adapt and use our newfound leisure time on more interesting hobbies instead of work.
Via The Independent