Universal Basic Income (UBI)

Universal Basic Income Accelerates Innovation by Reducing Our Fear of Failure

Failure is not an option. Failure is the goal. And fear of failure is the enemy.

UBI is a possible element in a transition strategy.

Evolution is an amazing process.
All it needs to start is something that can replicate, and occasional errors in the replication process leading to variants, then differential survival probabilities between those variants in different contexts or niches.
Fitness in this sense is whatever works in terms of survival probabilities, and varies substantially between contexts.

While evolution can start with this simple expedient, it rapidly explores more complex strategic spaces (potentially infinitely recursively so).

By the time we get to us as human beings using language, we are the totality of some 20 levels of cooperative systems (as well as a few competitive ones, but mostly cooperative).

The term fitness when applied to humans includes about twenty levels of complex arrays of probabilities which vary substantially with context.

Being human also involves many levels of strategic systems. Even at the genetic level, there are many different mechanisms that deliver different probabilities of different sorts of mutations in different areas of the genome in different contexts. It is an extremely complex set of systems. Cultural and personal complexity bring added evolutionary dimensions (domains).

And within our bodies the cells do not compete for the resources of survival. Every cell gets what it needs in terms of oxygen, pH balance, nutrients, temperature etc. The whole functions best when all the parts are functioning best.
That seems clearly to now be the major role of our social systems, to ensure all have whatever they reasonably need to explore whatever they reasonably choose.

In this sense, the competitive view of modern economic systems is fundamentally flawed, and the systems themselves have deep systemic issues that now work directly against the real interests of the vast majority of individuals. UBI – set at a reasonably high level (about $20K in the hand per year) delivered daily ($55/day) would give every individual a level of security and freedom that only a very few enjoy today.

In terms of material goods and services, most manufacturing is already partially automated, and much of it could be fully automated very quickly – it doesn’t actually take the efforts of many people to meet the reasonable material needs of everyone. And some things are more complex than that simple statement indicates.

So while automation fundamentally changes the incentive structure of markets, and markets are very complex adaptive systems, as is life and evolution more generally, and all raw cooperation is vulnerable to exploitation by cheating strategies, and requires secondary strategies to detect and remove the benefit from cheats, when cooperation is so stabilised it is a fundamental requirement for life forms such as us.

The recent 7.8 earthquake here in Kaikoura bought home to me just how reliant we are. While I was well prepared with reserves of food and energy and water, most were not, and they needed food and shelter. It wasn’t really an option to ignore anyone else’s needs. Given that Kaikoura is a tourist town, and thousands of visitors required food and transport (as all access roads were destroyed by the quake and took weeks to reopen (some will take over a year), the degree of reliance on outside aid was (is) substantial.

So in part it is about removing fear of failure, and in part it is about acknowledging the fundamental change brought about by fully automated systems, and in part it is about high level cooperation and freedom.

If we have the fundamental systems that support high level cooperation, then we all benefit; if we do not then we are all at risk.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) with reasonable security, tools, resources and degrees of freedom, and reasonable examples of the natural environment; and that is going to demand responsibility from all of us - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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3 Responses to Universal Basic Income (UBI)

  1. debyemm says:

    I honestly believe that because of automation the world will eventually have no other choice (or that other choice would lead to such horrendous living conditions, I simply don’t even want to think about it in my own mind) – the only choice as far as my imagination can travel for a decent quality of life for all human beings on this planet is a Universal Basic Income.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are other strategic alternatives Deb, like going completely beyond the concepts of money and exchange, to gifting and distributed trust networks, and not many people can think about such things yet.

      And I am coming to the conclusion that UBI is probably the lowest risk transition strategy available from those present in nearby strategy space.


  2. Pingback: UBI | Ted Howard NZ's Blog

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