Between Labor Day and chatting with some very bright people about the future of finance at Escape Velocity this weekend, it felt like a good time to post something about the future and universal basic income (UBI).
One of the things I like about Dylan Matthew’s article in Vox about the Roosevelt Institute’s recent study on the potential effects of implementing UBI is that he explores the premises behind both the study and the critics of said study.
I’ll update with related articles on the study if I come across them.
I’ve been reading and commenting a decent amount about automation this year, enough to make it seem inevitable. A popular topic with journalists and feature writers has been the impending automation of transportation which I noted back in May. Just recently, Vox ran another article about self-driving trucks and pending unemployment.
As the topic appears to be developing into a “future trend trope,” I was very intrigued to learn about the work of Robert Gordon, which Vox also did a piece on. Of course, I first learned about Robert Gordon when I got caught up listening to the Freakanomics podcast as they did an episode about American economic growth this Spring which prominently featured Robert Gordon. There’s also a transcript of a similar segment on Marketplace from 2012.
It certainly makes me consider what the economy might and can transform into.
A couple weeks ago, FiveThirtyEight did an in-depth look on universal basic income and I talked about it briefly here. This is a great group to look at it because they are so wonkily numbers-driven.
They’re back with a quick video recap, but the whole thing makes me feel I should be writing more about it here on the blog. As we humans face more and more automation, it seems like we need to find an elegant and effective solution for a populace that may not be able to be employed at the same levels it is even now. It’s weird: when I read Frederik Pohl’s classic short story, “The Midas Plague,” its vision of required consumption seemed so fanciful, but now it seems less so.
I’ve been reading a lot about basic income over the past year or so, from activist like Scott Santens as well as actual studies that have been and are being done.
So I was very pleased to see that the data-driven news site FiveThirtyEight decided to do a feature length article about it. If you want to get an idea about what basic income is all about — and what we really know about what it can do at this point, this thorough article by Andrew Flowers is a good introduction.