Project Syndicate – Why Universal Basic Income Is a Bad Idea

UBI is not a systemic solution, and it can be an effective part of a transition strategy.

What is happening now is unlike anything that has ever happened before.
Automation is heading towards completion (any and all tasks will be able to be automated by the mid 2030s based on current exponential trends).

That could mean an end to scarcity for most goods and services. But things without scarcity have no monetary value (like oxygen in the air – arguably the single most valuable thing to any of us, but with no market value due to universal abundance). Fully automated systems can deliver universal abundance of a large and growing set of goods and services.

That has never happened before.

Markets fail to deliver a useful measure of value under such conditions.

Currently markets perform many levels of very complex and valuable services aside from the obvious one of exchange, so transition to a new paradigm is far from trivial. It involves a lot of work by a lot of people who deeply understand systems and incentives (theoretical, biophysical, social and intellectual)

So while I am fully in favour of UBI as a transition strategy (for a host of reasons), it is not a stable end point, merely a step on a path.
Current market based trajectories seem to me to have very low survival probabilities (too many perverse incentives and instabilities).

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) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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