Mark Zuckerberg – Basic Income

Update 9-22-02017

It looks like Y-combinator is embarking on a basic income  experiment similar to what I proposed Mark Zuckerberg do. This is a good thing as it’s still an individual/private group doing experimentation that government can’t/won’t do.

“YC will select 3,000 people across two states and divide them into two groups. The first group will include 1,000 people who will receive $1,000 a month for up to five years. The second group of 2,000 people — which the study will consider its control group — will receive $50 a month.”

Original 5-29-02017

Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech for the Harvard commencement ceremony this year (2017). In it he advocated for a universal basic income, which is something I’ve been thinking and reading about for a few years. The most important question about a basic income is “Who pays for the basic income?” Some people have thought about this more than I have. You can read about how one guy thinks we should pay for a basic income here. There have even been a few basic income programs in the past. You can read about one happening in Finland here, as well as in Kenya here.  

When you have an idea as big as a basic income you need a path to get there. You don’t just implement a basic income to a whole country. I am often trying to figure out how to implement ideas fast, not necessarily perfectly.

I am excited that someone with as much wealth (from Facebook stock ownership) as well as a desire to change the world for the better (as self reported by Zuckerberg multiple times) is interested in a basic income. Luckily Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire and his stock is rising, literally. Facebook is worth more every year. This gives Zuckerberg the rare opportunity to implement his own basic income study! No one can stop him! And if it goes well he will be able to prove to people that a basic income is a good thing that should be implemented wider.

If Zuckerberg owns $63 billion in Facebook stock. it should grow at at least 4% a year, which means he could sell $2.5 billion a year, and use that to provide a basic income. Which means he could give 25,000 people a basic income of $100k a year!

Since this is a test and that’s a lot of money and this is supposed to be a basic income, he could provide an income of  $30k to say 500 people, this would be $15 million a year, a pittance that Zuckerberg wouldn’t even notice! I think he should do this for say 5 years, and see what happens with those people.

We need this kind of leadership to show us that this type of program could work.

$30k*500 people =$15 million *5 years = $75 million over 5 years.
How much to manage this program? $25 million maybe? (maybe way less!) For a cool $100 million over 5 years.

Until someone is willing to run this type of program and shows that the people who receive the money come out more successful than otherwise, and that they aren’t just being lazy, it won’t receive large scale acceptance.

I believe this is a program Zuckerberg should take on with his new Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC (not a charity, which is fine, I think businesses can potentially make more changes in the world than charities, or at least it takes all kinds!). If he wants to contact me to discuss further why I think he should do this he can find me at hooglandaxel@gmail.com

Alternatively, he could contact the nice people at Give Directly, who I mentioned earlier. They seem more versed in administering something like this and could probably run the program for less than $25 million!

The Last Hungry Person

*Note* To foster long term thinking I now use 02016 to indicate the year 2016. See Long Now Foundation

“There are genuinely sufficient resources in the world to ensure that no one, nowhere, at no time, should go hungry.” – Ed Asner

I am interested in what is killing people. Is it diseases? Is it accidents? Is it aging? Many times things like that will catch us off guard and that is unfortunate. Most people I know aren’t interested in dying. I have a real soft spot for those who are dying from things that could be easily prevented, especially starvation and malnutrition, which are things that they might not be able to prevent themselves but they might be able to with a little help. I came upon a very interesting website today while looking up this type of information. http://www.worldometers.info/

When I looked at it 766,867,865 people in the world out of 7,434,785,500 people (9.69%) were listed as “Undernourished”. The great news is it was going down at the rate of about 1 person a second! That comes to 365 days x 24 hrs x 60 minutes x 60 seconds = 31,536,000 seconds in a year. Which mean that 31,536,000 people a year are moving out of malnutrition. With that simple math it will take 24 years and 4 months for there to be no one on the world who is suffering from malnutrition. If we could assume exponential growth in the rate of people leaving the “malnourished” category we’d be there even faster! I really hope I am able to look out my window in 02041 and say “There are no hungry people today.”

While I am excited to see that it is going down that is still a long time and in the mean time there are thousands of people dying every day from hunger.

There are 2 organizations that I like right now that are working to combat hunger (which is usually a result of poverty).  

Children International. You can sponsor a child for $32 a month. For many families that is what they make in a month. This helps provide health services for the kids of the family as well as helping keep them in school. The cool thing about this one is you can write your kids and get letters from them. You can even visit them.
Another I am interested to see what they do is Give Directly. They are starting a new basic income study based on the success of a previous study that I am hoping to (start and) finish reading about soon.

If you don’t like the idea of giving away money there is another option, Kiva (or other microloan companies). They partner with loan companies in developing countries. You provide the capital. Some of the companies charge interest, some don’t. You don’t make interest on your money but you can learn a lot about the world just by reading about what people are applying for loans for.

Here’s a few examples:

A loan to a person in Haiti  “A loan to to import and stock clean energy products such as solar lights or improved cookstove”

A loan to a person in Colombia “A loan to help pay for school supplies.”

If you want to learn more about Kiva you can listen to or read The International Bank of Bob which follows one man’s journey as he meets some of the people who have received the micro loans. .

While these measures might appear to be short term solutions I would argue they are not. They are investments in our world’s most precious resource, people, their minds and their bodies. It will help develop into a long term solution when people are able to take care of themselves once they are able to think ahead of where they will get their food the next day. We can’t afford not to help others.

I know I have at least 1 friend who will argue that the governments of the countries that have high poverty rates are criminal or at least exploitive of their citizens, which may be true. He would argue that we should work for freedom and that will let people determine their own futures and provide for their own security. While I certainly would agree with some of that line of thought, I don’t think physical fighting is particularly useful these days. What I think is a better revolution is a revolution of the mind. If we can feed and educate enough people they will demand their own freedom from tyranny.


So we can acknowledge that there are challenges but on the bright side things are moving in the right direction. How can we push them that way a little faster? Well I shared a few with you above. Are there any others you like personally? Will we be able to make hunger a thing of the past in our lifetimes?
The last bit of good news. As I finished writing this there were 766,864,120 undernourished people (down 3,745!)

The Future

I spend a lot of time thinking and reading about things that are coming “in the future” and I often want to write about them after but it often doesn’t happen. Usually future technology or ideas are aimed at making the world a better place and thinking about stuff like that can put you in a good mood.  I wanted to just share a few quick notes and key people related to some future ideas in the hopes that it might spark some of you to look into one or two of them and go boldly into the future with me.

Transhumanism is the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology. Zoltan Istvan is a writer currently running for President Of The United States on a Transhuman platform. One of his thoughts is we can potentially live forever. Is he crazy? Maybe.

Cyborgs  are people who have had things implanted in their body to help increase efficiency or capacity of current bodily functions. Implants could help with healing, memory, increasing hearing or sight. We could have phones implanted in our earlobe that could read our brains instead of us having to physically talk. I think that phones already do a lot of the type of things that cyborgs are thinking about but it is just not integrated in our bodies yet. As things get smaller with nanotechnology it will be easier and easier to be a cyborb but the small bots might be able to leave our bodies fast as new models come out so it won’t even be obvious our bodies are being enhanced.

Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that are linked to aging and disease. They have been linked with longer life spans. It is suspected that exercise is one way we can help keep them healthy. Aubrey de Grey is one of the leading researchers in this area of study and other ways to help telomeres stay long and keep us alive and healthy.This goes directly along with the idea of transhumanism mentioned above.

Cryonics is the study of feezing people as they die or just after to hopefully restore them to better health in the future. This obviously relates to the above studies as the people, if they are unfrozen, would benefit from research in any anti aging information as well as anything that helps people live longer lives.

Nanotechnology can be used for many things from material design to robots that could help us become cyborgs. They could be programed to fight infections or cancers more effectively than our current immune system. They could also be used to stop bleeding, from inside of us. Other robots could be used to manufacture or heal materials.

Augmented reality is having a coming day soon. It is where the current world is projected over by some virtual components. Really I would say that Google maps is already a very basic form of augmented reality as we can get reviews and notifications about things that are near to us we might be interested in.  A new game is coming out soon, Pokemon Go, that is another step for augmented reality.

Virtual reality is the next step after augmented reality. It has a future where we might eventually be plugged into a Matrix type computer. We could do whatever we wanted. Again, I think we have had very basic virtual reality for a long time, at least as long as video games have been around. If you think about it books are even a form of virtual reality that we create in our minds. We are just taking it a step further with a headset that works to trick more of our senses.  This site gives you a neat rough VR tour of Mars. The lines of what “counts” as VR will obviously stay blurred. Current technology such as the Oculus Rift is making VR even more sophisticated than most people realize.  I see a future where we will have VR vacations that will obviously be cheaper than real trips. VR will also allow us to experience historic places and events.

Abundance is more a concept than an actual thing. There was a great book written about it by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. They promote the idea that we have more than enough to survive now. We need to stop hoarding stuff and being afraid of the future because we will have so much in the future. We need to get rid of the mindset that if someone else has more that means we have to have less. There is plenty to go around. Buckminster Fuller also shared a similar though, over 50 years ago, just without using the term Abundance.

Basic income is the idea that we will have so much via abundance and so little that we have to do thanks to increases in computers and robots that we might have to give people money to live off of because there will be no jobs. Instead of this being bad it could be great as we’ll be able to all spend time doing things we enjoy and taking up challenges we want to do that will lead to more innovation because of the passion we could have for our endeavors. There are many places that are starting to look at this such as Give Directly, the city of Utrecht (in the Netherlands) and Finland.

Mars – If you watched the Martian you know it was rooted in a lot of good science. We are probably going there in my lifetime and that’s just exciting!

Electric cars – With energy being probably the most important thing (after air) to our survival and only some forms of electricity being renewable, I see electric cars coming on strong in the coming years, boosted by better battery technology as well as cheaper electricity.

Autonomous cars – Although the first death was recently recorded that related to an autonomous (or assisted driving) car, it wasn’t actually determined that it was the fault of the car. My bet is it will not be. It wasn’t mentioned how many people died as a result of their own driving that same day but I bet it was a lot more. The systems will only be better as our technology increases.

The technological singularity is a hypothetical event in which an upgradable intelligent agent (such as a computer running software-based artificial general intelligence) enters a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly. (Wikipedia). The Singularity Is Near is a great book written by Ray Kurzweil about this idea. You can also learn more about this, and many other topics, from the YouTube channel Singularity Weblog. Obviously such computing power could help solve many of the problems associated with the ideas discussed above and maybe make some of them obsolete.

If you want to read about a few more exciting things that could be in store for the future I encourage you to look up Quantum  physics, Dark Matter, Dark Energy and the Human Genome project.
I know I am excited for the future and hoping to contribute in my own small way. What are you most excited about for the future? How are you helping it come?