Automation and Universal Basic Income: Are There Other Options?

May 19, 2017 | BIT Magazine 

Everything from self-driving cars to more capable and prolific industrial robots in factories are threatening a growing list of human jobs. And with artificial intelligence findings itself applied across a growing list of specialized tasks, not only is menial labor being threatened and disrupted, but so are many "white-collar" jobs.

A population facing the prospect of unemployment because their jobs have been permanently replaced by automation is a growing problem that requires an urgent solution. And many solutions have been proposed.

Education programs are proposed to retrain workforces around the globe to tackle jobs that still require human labor. There is also the proposal of what is called universal basic income. It is described by Wikipedia as:
...a form of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere. 

It sounds like a simple and attractive solution. But there are multiple dimensions to universal basic income often overlooked by proponents.

First, it leaves entire populations completely dependent on whatever government or public institution is tasked with providing these sums of money to the public, something governments and public institutions throughout history have been notoriously inefficient at for a wide variety of reasons.

Second, it leaves whoever is using automation, mainly corporations, with an uncontested monopoly over the technological foundation of modern society. Such monopolies have also, throughout history, proven notoriously negative for society.

Currently, experiments are underway to see what impact universal basic income will have on populations.

Building an Opensource Laptop

January 27, 2017 | via ProgressTH

Opensource technology is one of the essential keys to empowering ordinary people with extraordinary tools. Adrian Bowyer's opensource 3D printer project, RepRap, paved the way for the myriad of 3D printers that now find themselves on the desktops of designers, makers, engineers, and artists around the world.

Opensource software has allowed people to dive into fields of engineering, design, and art that was once only accessible to those with the resources to purchase and maintain proprietary software suites.

And opensource electronics companies like Arduino and Adafruit have helped breath new life and interest into electronics, not just as a hobby, but as a starting point for a growing number of startups and small businesses around the world.

Andrew "Bunnie" Huang was recently featured on Adafruit's video series, "Ask an Engineer," where he showcased his opensource laptop, the Novena.

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