Universal Basic Income and the future of money


Universal basic income has been proposed as a way of responding to job disruption due to advancements in AI and robotics. How will people live and exchange value in a future dominated by automation?

Welfare already exists to adjust income to a living wage standard or to provide basic utility. Income is already taxed to adjust disposable income so that the majority remain in a work/consume cycle. So if we assume a reduction in work hours or required work we do not need to assume income or costs remain the same as today. If our income decreased and costs remained the same then the shortfall would be required in the form of tax reductions or universal basic income/welfare adjustments. However, it is possible production efficiencies will result in cost reductions that align with a smaller income. We may earn less but afford the same amount of goods and services.

An alternative reality is the possibility of income staying the same. So we work less but are paid well. Imagine earning the same salary for half the time or effort. In this scenario UBI would not be needed in all cases.

In the case of those who cannot find work then UBI is necessary. We already have this today though.

This is all dependent on the system remaining the same. People need to exchange credits for goods and services and the economy needs people to buy goods and services.

Our obsession with status and consumption will be disrupted by the dematerialisation of goods and services. Digitisation of value and meaning resulting in consumption of non tangible assets. This is an exciting but disruptive challenge to the economic model.

What we are looking at is dominant platforms where users go to transact, exchange and play. Sort of like Facebook, Apple, etc today. These platforms will operate their own credits, coins or currencies. This is next evolution of social platforms whereby VR plays a key role in entertaining otherwise under utilised humans. I think the platforms will pay the users a UBI to engage. Advertisers will pay the platform to reach the users with the hope of selling digital and tangible products and services to the users. Effectively the platforms are taking on the role of a sovereign state.

Capatilism will survive for sometime yet but the gatekeepers will lose control. Big tech will take control of decentralised monetary systems. Banks and even countries will lose control of all forms of exchange.

The emerging reality technologies like VR and AR will drive radical change in terms of tokenisation etc. Legacy environments involving existing gatekeepers will be slow to adapt.

Im expecting AR to emerge for early adopters within the next five years and another five years for it to go more mainstream. So we would be looking at substantial new digital markets before 2030.

The main threat is the dominance of one tech player in terms of controlling the digital eco-system and financial market within that. We need to move forward ensuring that these systems do not create a dystopian top down society. Already social media has shown to design a personalised reality which serves the purpose of advertisers above the user. As the technology becomes all consuming, If this continues to develop in this way, we are heading towards a future where many peoples lives are controlled by a machine.

By Hayden Breese