How we conceive of “basic income” will change with our technology.

Universal Basic Income and Blockchain

We know it’s rather likely a universal basic income first appears in a sustainable way in a blockchain solution. Smart contracts moderated by AI would be a better intermediary than any other system.

Aspects of the token economy could interact with the Gig economy and the sharing economy in ways whereby valued-labor is redefined for a new generation. Especially likely here is how self-sovereign identity creates a new value for the consumer and their data. In such a world the way we consume, curate, validate and create content would be monetized in favor of people, instead of Ad-platforms like Google or Facebook.

Imagine all that wealth decentralized, not just in the hands of a few or the 1% of executives of tech companies, but actually the people of the world? Wouldn’t that be a better planet and an internet we could actually trust? With automation, robotics, 5G, smart personal assistants, IoT and AI — we have to make sure economic equality takes place — and not just simply a spiral to more wealth inequality. The answer is obviously not in anything Facebook, Microsoft or IBM will do with the blockchain.

This is why the tenets and values of the decentralization of public blockchains are a likely catalyst for the actual implementation of new kinds of digital stipends and basic income. They need not be tied to fiat, they could belong to cryptocurrencies and sync with the digital activities of the new generation, for example, the kind of solutions GenZ might innovate to “update” capitalism.

  • Why don’t mothers get paid for their contributions to the species?
  • Why doesn’t technology support our better values like inclusion, sustainability and the incentivization of economic equality?
  • Why don’t people get fairly rewarded for sharing their data and attention ?

As social credit economies evolve, the data on our choices will be monetized, not just by rewards and punishments online (the so called Facebook rating its giving users on how “trustworthy” they are), but on our actual contributions to the lives of others, our family, our community, culture and intellectual capital at large and so forth. In the future there will be data points not just on our health and well-being, but on our impact as citizens: our practical, moral, economic, social, artistic, intellectual and even our spiritual contributions. Thus it seems unlikely we’ll be giving everyone a flat amount of a basic income to supplement how unemployment and the redefinition of work and abundance will scale in an age of automation, robots and AI in the future.

What if Artificial Intelligence is Part of the Solution

More likely we’ll be using AI to determine predictive algorithms on people and allot them an amount of what they need. The payment itself will be transparent on a blockchain, but the actual implementation of such a thing won’t be a “basic income” as we understand it today. The social credit system of New China will reward and punish citizens based on what the Chinese Government deems valuable — adherence to collectivist norms, civil obedience, harmony, etc…but a “digital stipend” in the rest of the world will probably result from digital and real-life data points that are much more aligned with human rights, our professional activities, how we give our energy to society and as measured with baselines that are very different from how a prescribed authority would present them.

The key intermediary between a digital stipend or a form of UBI and blockchain would be artificial intelligence. In addition the sharing economy and what we now call the gig economy would have to mature as it will rapidly in the decades to come. AI would be constantly tweaking the system and our own allotment based on hundreds of thousands of variables. We won’t earn a “salary” in the future, we’ll move well beyond that. A few citizens won’t be able to “hoard” massive amounts of capital or pass it down to their children, promoting wealth concentration in the hands of a few. That will be illegal in the future.

A future UBI that’s coherent will therefore require:

  • A sharing economy that’s more sophisticated where new kinds of businesses emerge that are more sustainability- and inclusion-based forms that are like hybrid corporate /NGOs.
  • A “Gig economy” that is much more varied where people’s careers are more like or resemble the paths of freelancers and entrepreneurs than the “company workers” most of us are still today in 2018.
  • Blockchain and AI layers that can manage the complex algorithms and predictive analytics necessary for a fair and just distribution of a “basic income” that will take on many and varied forms, according to one’s skills, preferences, global region and affiliations.

When we mention blockchain here we are talking about what public blockchains will become where they are integrated with machine learning, scalability, quantum computing and self-regulating systems that we cannot even comprehend today.

Here I’m not talking about a simple altcoin or some corporations that think they can leverage a token, I’m talking about a complete redefinition of how we see work and money in a future where what we call blockchain, AI, and “basic income” today, will be radically different and experienced much more intimately.