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'We Could Fund a Universal Basic Income With the Data We Give Away To Facebook and Google' (thenextweb.com) 584

Tristan Greene reports via The Next Web: A universal basic income (UBI), wherein government provides a monthly stipend so citizens can afford a home and basic necessities, is something experts believe would directly address the issue of unemployment and poverty, and possibly even eliminate hundreds of other welfare programs. It may also be the only real solution to the impending automation bonanza. According to AI expert Steve Fuller, the problem is, giving people money when they lose jobs won't fix the issue, it's a temporary solution and we need permanent ones. Sounds fair, and he even has some ideas on how to accomplish this end: "We could hold Google and Facebook and all those big multinationals accountable; we could make sure that people, like those who are currently 'voluntarily' contributing their data to pump up companies' profits, are given something that is adequate to support their livelihoods in exchange."

It's an interesting idea, but difficult to imagine it's implementation. If the government isn't assigning a specific stipend value, we'll have to be compensated individually by companies. One way to do this, is by emulating the old coal mining company scrip scams of early last century. Employees working for companies would be paid in currency only redeemable at the company store. This basically created a system where a company could tax its own workers for profit. Google, for example, could use a system like that and say "opt-in for $10 worth of Google Play music for free," if they wanted to. Which doesn't help pay the bills when machines replace you at work, but at least you'll be able to voice search for your favorite songs. Another idea is to charge companies an automation tax, but again there's concerns as to how this would be implemented. A solution that combines government oversight with a tax on AI companies -- a UBI funded by the dividends of our data -- may be the best option. To be blunt: we should make Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other such AI companies pay for it with a simple data tax.

'We Could Fund a Universal Basic Income With the Data We Give Away To Facebook and Google'

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  • by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @08:06AM (#55686743)

    Send Google and Facebook the bill, NOT the taxpayers.

    • by vlad30 ( 44644 )
      Even easier mandate they must give shares to there users each month as payment for the information
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BlueStrat ( 756137 )

      Send Google and Facebook the bill, NOT the taxpayers.

      Allow me to remind you of a quote that applies here:

      Socialism is great until you run out of other people's money." -- Margaret Thatcher

      Rich corporations and people will simply move their wealth out of reach. We've already seen this phenomenon with Apple and MS and how they structure their international holdings and with individuals with what was revealed in the Panama Papers.

      A US UBI would eventually result in the US following Greece down the toilet.

      And if *that* happens, the entire world will dissolve into

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @09:20AM (#55687239)

        Allow me to remind you of a quote that applies here:

        Here's a better quote for you:

        An aphorism is a jumble of words designed to make you feel better about the stupid things you believe. Often, you’ll affix a famous person to the end of your dumb word jumble to give it more authority.

        Socialism is great until you run out of other people's money." -- Margaret Thatcher

        In reality, of course, the only people relying on other people's money are the Ponzi scheme operators like Bernie Madoff, who was no socialist at all.

        Sorry, BlueStrat, but your tendency to rely on such pithy quotations represents a deeply flawed aspect of your argumentation. You fail to comprehend and understand the situation, leading to a faulty perception of reality and a mistaken approach.

        Rich corporations and people will simply move their wealth out of reach.

        Oh? Will they? Where to, and what will they do with it? Especially when it's often contained in mere documents that rely on the force of governance to enforce? Remember, we don't live in a world where those particular rich corporations and people carry their wealth in the form of bars of gold to any great extent. That sort of thing only remains in a few isolated sections, not the majority.

        In reality, those rich corporations and people are desperate to keep what they have, and what they enjoy, and they won't be moving off to an orbital paradise in the sky.

        We've already seen this phenomenon with Apple and MS and how they structure their international holdings and with individuals with what was revealed in the Panama Papers.

        You mean things they were allowed to do, and not thwarted? That's like saying you can't stop crime when the police never even bother to leave the coffee shop.

        A US UBI would eventually result in the US following Greece down the toilet.

        I'm pretty sure the issues with Greece turned out to be a manufactured hysteria that was driven by a bunch of bankers concocting a story elsewhere in Europe. Of course, people never understood that and instead believed a false narrative about how the Greek people somehow did something wrong, when in reality, it was all a con game, and they were working and producing as hard as ever, while the actually lazy criminal thieves were disparaging them.

        And if *that* happens, the entire world will dissolve into chaos and violence.

        The leadership of the US is currently taking actions that are inducing chaos and violence in the world, in case you didn't know.

        I think you need a course on actual world politics and economics instead.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cayenne8 ( 626475 )

          I'm pretty sure the issues with Greece turned out to be a manufactured hysteria that was driven by a bunch of bankers concocting a story elsewhere in Europe. Of course, people never understood that and instead believed a false narrative about how the Greek people somehow did something wrong, when in reality, it was all a con game, and they were working and producing as hard as ever, while the actually lazy criminal thieves were disparaging them.

          When a country runs OUT of money, and has nothing but debt tha

        • by rikkards ( 98006 )

          It also comes down to the fact of people looking at UBI through today's perspective. Pretty much every western country is looking into it and how to implement. Buddy's wife works for Canada's Privy Council and this is something they are already talking about. Automation is going to put a lot of people out of work, they are even saying that one of the first will be truckers and that automated semis are already out there.
          Things are going to have to change, otherwise you will have the rabble at the gates with

      • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @10:00AM (#55687507) Journal
        There is a reason why Apple has a virtual office in the Island of Jersey rather then its Headquarters.They are exploiting loopholes in the U.S tax code and International treaties that allow it to pretend that is doing billions in business in a island of 100,000 where it has no employees. The loopholes can be closed if there was political will but of course politicians want their campaign contributions.

        Speaking of going down the toilet like Greece, what do you think a GOP corporate/super wealthy tax cut that will add $1.414 trillion to the deficit by 2027 is going to do? Remember kids, deficits only matter when talking about Social Programs

  • by RedK ( 112790 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @08:07AM (#55686747)

    It just keeps everyone perpetually in poverty, debt slaves to the state, with no hope or drive to move forward. Communism doesn't work. Communism without workers would be even worse, stripping people of their meaning on top of their earnings.

    The solution to automation is not to do it. "Because we can doesn't mean we should".

    • Although I agree with the political sentiment, we donâ(TM)t have to stop automation because weâ(TM)re afraid. We have more, better paying and simpler/safer jobs now than we ever did before the advent of the steam engine or the computer. We have a lot more leisure time and industries have sprung up to fill that time.

      The next wave of automation wonâ(TM)t change that, menial jobs will disappear, people will have more free time.

      • This set of fears about Automation and technology replacing our job seems to come up every 50 years or so. Normally around a recession where people feel stressed from this technology, where it is doing jobs that use to take skilled people years to perfect. However what seems to happen is while such jobs are replaced (And these are real people, good people not worthy of getting let go) it is often replaced and added to with a new set of jobs.
        Lets talk about the computer revolution during the 1970's. Compani

    • The solution to automation is not to do it. "Because we can doesn't mean we should".

      Easy to say, not so easy to do. Once someone starts, everyone will need to do it to stay competitive. We've been trying (unsuccessfully) for the last 70 years to put the atomic genie back in the bottle and it's only gotten worse. Same with genetic engineering and bioweapons, and those are things that threaten life on this planet, not just the economy.

    • Actually, if enough labour is replaced with robots, communism might be preferable to UBI. UBI in any form currently being proposed will not solve mass unemployment. It'll gravitate towards a Universal Minimum Income, i.e. the minimum amount you need to survive. And much of that may be paid in kind, which sounds nice but takes away a lot of your choices. I can see a future where most of us will live in government provided (shit) housing [marshallbrain.com], eating in a communal dining hall, and being supplied with most of o
      • by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @08:58AM (#55687093)

        The main problem with communism is the efficient distribution of limited resources. It's basic information theory - you have a complicated set of interdependent production units that have varying needs for resources on each other. To make steel you need water, to move water around water you need pipes pumps, to make pipes pumps you need steel... and on and on ad infinitum.

        A market system works pretty well at distributing these resources. If you make steel you don't need to know anything about demand other than the price of steel.

        A planned / communist economy relies on meetings to figure out what gets made. The problem is nobody has all the information needed to plan out production, especially on a large scale. This is why you have perpetual shortages of goods in countries with planned economies.

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @08:50AM (#55687007)

      The question comes down to incentive .
      For our culture, does the incentive for most Americans to exceed, grow and find a way to show that they are better then their neighbor is higher then the incentive to be able to survive a mediocre comfortable life.

      With Basic Income, I do see a number of people who work to live, quitting their job. These are not bad or lazy people, they are just not ambitious, they would prefer to use their time doing things they like to do. I can see also a number of people more willing to take risks to be more successful, as the cost of failure is much less. They may be more likely to stand up to their boss, when something is wrong, or take charge of an activity, because the risk of failure is much less.

    • You define your "meaning" and worth by your work and the money you have?

      I pity you.

    • Communism doesn't work. Communism without workers would be even worse, stripping people of their meaning on top of their earnings.
      Against popular believe: UBI is not communism. You still have your retarded two party system and your robber capitalism.

      The solution to automation is not to do it. "Because we can doesn't mean we should".
      Yeah, says the guy who is talking about "communism". What does communism mean? In the strictest sense it means: corporations should not have "control over the means of production

    • It just keeps everyone perpetually in poverty, debt slaves to the state, with no hope or drive to move forward. Communism doesn't work. Communism without workers would be even worse, stripping people of their meaning on top of their earnings.

      The solution to automation is not to do it. "Because we can doesn't mean we should".

      Right now, this is true. I think it's way too early for UBI. However, in the future as more and more jobs go away, as automation takes over, there will be a point where UBI makes sense. When a large enough % of the people are permanently unemployed and unemployable a move towards a complex socialist state may be the way forward. I'm not talking totalitarian regimes or single-party communism; but maybe there is a time when a state-run economy is the only way forward.

      We're not there yet, any move there wi

  • by Dallas May ( 4891515 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @08:08AM (#55686749)
    UBI is ultimately pointless because the problem right now isn't that people don't have money. It's that the market adjusts itself to maximize profits which will always price some people out. Consider this: A person makes $100 a month and only wants to spend $10 on an apartment. But there is another person willing to spend $15 on that apartment, so that's what the market sets it's price at, which causes a lot of financial strain on the person. Good news! The government passes a UBI law, and provides everyone with a minimum $15 salary, bringing the persons monthly income to $115. The person can now easily afford the apartment, right? Well no. You see, that person gets the salary, but so does the other person competing for the same apartment. The second person is now willing to pay $20 for that apartment. So that's where the market says the price. So ultimately, all the UBI does is raise the prices on everything for everyone.
    • ...Because apartments are a finite resource and no one could ever possibly build more of them and increase competition thus lowering prices.
    • the market adjusts itself to maximize profits

      within available constraints, yes. Such as supply, raw materials, or even space in the case of housing. If there was an infinite supply of desirable housing, $10 would be too high. This is why we need to virtualize everything.

    • If a group of people have money from which you can profit, then someone will adjust prices to undercut yours and profit from them, unless you do it first.

  • Industry was going to take away all the jobs. The, the tractor was going to take away all the jobs. Mechanization was going to take away all the jobs. Automation was going to take away all the jobs. Outsourcing was going to take away all the jobs. And yet here we are after all of that we have the lowest unemployment rate this country has ever had. Something tells me that with even 3D printing and artificial intelligence Americans will figure out something to do.
  • by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @08:13AM (#55686781)

    Our economic system is first built on land ownership and natural resources, then on services extracting, processing, and delivering product from those resources. Everything else is just moving little green pieces of paper around when those first two groups are done with them.

    You can't take something like 'mining personal data for sales and marketing' and turn it into an economy-driving primary natural resource, and any economic scheme that isn't ultimately rooted in property and natural resources is doomed to fail before it is even implemented.

  • When I add up income tax, Medicare/social security tax, state taxes, property, sales, hotel, gas, airport and the rest I pay, the total is at least 50% of my paycheck, and I am not by any means rich. Taxing the companies more just means that the prices will be higher - your Youtube Red subscription will be $11 and not $9, your Office subscription will be $75 a year and not $69... How about we maybe try cutting waste and abuse of the system and use that money to cut taxes so people can save more money and ne

    • You mean like not spending $20billion on a stupid wall or $400billion on the F35?
      • Those both serve a point. Giving money to oxygen-carbon dioxide converters (poor people/old people) does not. ($2300 Billion per year)
    • by MeNeXT ( 200840 )

      If your tax rate is 50% then your cost of youtube red is not $9 it is $18. You need first to pay the taxman and then have enough to pay for youtube red unless you can deduct it fro you income.The cost of what you are purchasing is the effort required to purchase it. What we need to do is make basic cost of living expenses, (rent, food, clothes) tax deductible. We can also set a limit at $10k per person or a value that is reasonable for an individual to live in a given location. This way there is motivation

  • By worry that we here on the left have pointless kooks that are worse than useless too. For the record, the correct 'we could fund' talking point it that we could pay our national debt off in ten years with the money single payer healthcare saves.
  • by MysteriousPreacher ( 702266 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @08:30AM (#55686879) Journal

    Google and Facebook provide services in exchange for user information. Of course it's questionable as to whether or not this is a good idea - I'd say a very bad idea - but that's the deal. There is no compensation due.

    The reality is that the data of a single user would be near worthless. A stipend for any given user would be near worthless assuming an even division of the money. How would you even calculate the value data down to an individual except in the extreme outliers?

    It's a nonsense idea that reeks of socialism's sense of entitlement and lack of real world application in anything but cautionary tales. Universal basic income may have applications, but paying for it this way is a crazy person's idea.

  • People are giving away their information without fee under their own free will. It's not anyone's place to get the way of that until they begin to do so at their own detriment. The reason for this is that it will have crossed over from activity to addiction. That said, a proper tax structure is needed to keep a society from destructing. We currently have a regressive tax system which has been shown to be to the detriment of society and yet politicians keep pushing it further. The reason things are movi

  • ... If you're not worth a paycheck?

    I don't think people appreciate how politics and power structures interface with economic imperitives. Much of the social and political liberalization in the Western world was a direct result of economic changes that made individuals more relevant to the logistical framework of the society.

    The more the society becomes a command economy with top down control... the less the individual matters and thus the less the individual will matter. Your political agency will decline.

    W

  • People always looking for handouts. The only thing my robots will be doing in the coming automation age for the "public good" is throwing dirty hippies/hipsters off my property.
  • If all of this data is being *given away*, then how is it objectively worth any money?
  • A Universal Basic Income is a good idea but it will never pass because both sides of the isle have made it pretty damn clear that America was, is, and always will only be about profits over people. Sadly, it is going to take an economic catastrophe that decimates everyone, not just the lower and middle classes. The wealthy need to be taught a lesson that the lower and middle classes have to be stable for a healthy society. We never learned our lessons from the Great Depression. If we had, perhaps there woul

    • Everyone who says something can't be done gets nothing done. I'm going to pass a universal dividend--UBI is old tech and I built something better--and it won't cause a tax increase, either.

      • Everyone who says something can't be done gets nothing done. I'm going to pass a universal dividend--UBI is old tech and I built something better--and it won't cause a tax increase, either.

        Very interesting link to the congressional candidate. Worth reading.

        • Yeah, that's my campaign. I had also started work on a piece of literature for the universal dividend [facebook.com], which generally follows GDP-per-capita (it follows income-per-capita, which is approximately the same thing, minus pre-tax savings such as 401(k) and IRA). I actually like that graph, because it shows the benefit's tendency to itself increase over time.

          This is a completely-new approach, and has interesting properties stemming from the simple mechanism of making the poor less-poor. It takes in money a

  • ...than Welfare 2.0, plain and simple.

    If you expect to tax the worlds richest corporations to fund UBI, then expect a funding result about as good as getting them to pay taxes today.

    Offshore tax havens, tax loopholes, political contributions...I can think of a dozen ways corporations weasel out of paying their fair share. What money you might manage to get from them to feed to the unemployable masses in the future will be the bare minimum, and not a penny more.

    Ironically, large corporations are fueled by t

  • The problem with a universal basic income is that the sharks start circling immediately. Landlords see it as an opportunity to jack up the rent. Stores (especially in poor neighbourhoods) raise the price of semi-necessities like disposable diapers. "Hope taxes" like lotteries market their wares more aggressively.

    Soon, everybody's doing better except the people a basic income was intended to help, who get picked cleaner than a squirrel carcass at a crow convention.

  • by boudie2 ( 1134233 ) on Wednesday December 06, 2017 @09:47AM (#55687409)
    Stock market at an all time high, unemployment lowest in years, new tax bill igniting the economy, deregulation across the board and a fine group of level headed honest folks in Washington. Who needs a UBI. In a couple years you'll all be tired of winning. Lucky bastards ;^)

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