I was listening to 'The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters', and not surprisingly it puts a lot of stock in the reasons behind what we do, such as the reason we feel compelled to go to work. Is it to buy certain things, to achieve certain things, to provide for others, etc. People these days often say they want/need meaningful work or work they love to be happy, and some critics of that complain that this is something new and that people just used to work, work hard lousy jobs and they didn't have the problems with depression we have today.
This got me thinking about Universal Basic Income programs being talked about. I'm all for them, and I'll get to that in a bit, but this idea that a lot of meaning and self worth and satisfaction comes from our jobs, just giving money to people may cause them to struggle to find meaning in their lives. Rather than free money it may help everyone if there were some aspect of 'work' required to obtain it. I'm not talking 9-5 or at an office, but something you're accountable to do. Even if it is to call in to chat with others or to do test services and give feedback, just something that helps others could help the person themselves in ways money can't.
So why am I for Universal Basic Income? I can't remember if I already did a post on this but here we go again if I did. In general I think it is a good idea from a global security perspective, and I'm going to back up my argument with TED talks.
I recently saw an article about a Robot Tax, where robot owners could be taxed to provide money to the population that got displaced by the robot and I wrote the following comment.
People need to start thinking of UBI as a potential solution to a lot of global issues. The argument for global security easily outweighs the concern that there will be a bunch of freeloaders, especially now that robots are in the mix. What I mean can be summed up by looking at 3 recent TED Talks that have nothing to do with UBI.
1) Sarah Parcak - Help discover ancient ruins. She says world heritage sites are getting looted, the reason is people need money more than ever. Her solution, spend millions on a crowdsource project to look at sites via satellite.
2) Deeyah Khan - What We Don't Know About Europe's Muslim Kids. She interviewed convicted terrorists and didn't find 'monsters' she found broken people, torn between their culture and their country. Other talks have also highlighted that extremists draw on broken down people with few other options.
3) Caleb Barlow - Where is Cybercrime really coming from? He talks of a huge underground economy, a Deep Web full of people willing to do whatever terrible thing you want as long as you pay.
Do you think people would be looting the pyramids, joining extremists groups, or hacking for money if they had a UBI allowing them to follow their dreams?
Here's a bonus TED talk to think about, Paul Knoepfler - The ethical dilemma of designer babies, he talks about CRISPR and how much of a game changer it is, and the widespread impacts it can have.
Think of this like hacking the living world, UBI could help prevent "bio-hackers for hire" like we already have for computers. I feel the same way about healthcare, not having it is a huge risk. Everyone loves 'Breaking Bad' but no one seems to realize it wouldn't have happened if the character had healthcare.
Without these universal programs we are creating the problems we are willing to spend billions to try to fight. Look at cyber crime, can the governments ever hope to stay ahead of that? I don't think so. If you want to get really worried watch Sugata Mitra's TED talks showing kids teaching themselves to use computers, and think about where we send all of our e-waste. And not even e-waste, who do we have making all of our most advanced electronics. People we don't even pay a living wage. They have access to everything they could want. Take a look at these markets in China where a guy was able to buy the parts to build an iPhone, it seems like you could get anything you want there.
UBI is not about altruism it's about global security but only if we can apply it across the world. How to implement this will be the trick to figure out but the first step is to see the potential, and to agree we need it.
To bombard you some more with TED Talks, here is an extra long one where they get on to this topic, but they don't leave you feeling too optimistic. They say UBI will need to be global but that it hard to imagine the current global governments would be able to come up with and agree upon something.
I have some ideas, I'll get to those in a future post. Regardless of what I think about UBI, people really need to rethink what they consider 'good solutions'. As one TED speaker said, you have to look up stream to see where the problems are coming from. He said it's a common parable for people in public health to describe looking at problems as if they are babies floating in baskets down a stream towards a waterfall. You just want to jump in and start saving the babies. But he says someone has got to leave the group saving the babies and try to stop whatever or whoever is putting these babies in the stream to begin with. I think inequality is a big factor but I think the reason for that inequality is a lack of understanding of what makes us happy, a lack of understanding of why we do what we do.