Google’s Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil has been known for making bold predictions since the 1990s. His latest prediction is that the world will have a universal basic income by the 2030’s. Kurzweil touts an 84% success rate on his predictions of the future.
“In the early 2030s, we’ll have universal basic income in the developed world, and worldwide by the end of the 2030s,” Kurzweil predicted during the 2018 TED conference. You’ll be able to live very well on that. The primary concern will be meaning and purpose.”
According to Techtarget.com,” Universal basic income (UBI) is a model for providing all citizens of a country or other geographic area with a given sum of money, regardless of their income, resources or employment status. The purpose of the UBI is to prevent or reduce poverty and increase equality among citizens.
The means for achieving a universal basic income in the future remains unknown. Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes claims that the most efficient way of achieving it would be to taxing the wealthiest 1% and use those revenues to redistribute wealth. The concept of a UBI has gained a positive public following recently in anticipation of expected employment gaps as we move towards an automated future.
Although some fear the future of automation and the effect it will have on employment opportunities, Kurzweil claims AI technology will help the human race rather than hurt it . He also claims that if a UBI is implemented, it will give humans a chance to find meaning for their lives outside of the workforce. He also believes the implementation of social safety nets will make this transition much easier.
Some of the benefits of a UBI is the belief that it will help decrease poverty and income inequality. It is also believed that establishing a UBI will improve the overall health of a country’s citizens by making medication and treatment more affordable. According to Proandcon.org, “Participants in India’s UBI trial (2013-2014) said that UBIs helped improve their health by enabling them to afford medicine, improve sanitation, gain access to clean water, eat more regularly, and reduce their anxiety levels.
UBIs also face a slew of critics with some calling it a band aid fix to massive wealth inequality and not an actual fix to the overarching problem. Skeptics believe that the implementation of a UBI would redistribute the wealth in a way that takes money away from those living at or below the poverty line and sending it up the ladder.
According to Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “If you take the dollars targeted on people in the bottom fifth or two-fifths of the population and convert them to universal payments to people all the way up the income scale, you’re redistributing income upward. That would increase poverty and inequality rather than reduce them.”
Photo by Scott Santens via Flickr