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Give People Money
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Give People Money
How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World
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A New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceShortlisted for the 2018 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year AwardA brilliantly reported, global look at universal basic income—a stipend given...
A New York Times Book Review Editors' ChoiceShortlisted for the 2018 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year AwardA brilliantly reported, global look at universal basic income—a stipend given...
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  • A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice
    Shortlisted for the 2018 FT & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

    A brilliantly reported, global look at universal basic income—a stipend given to every citizen—and why it might be necessary in an age of rising inequality, persistent poverty, and dazzling technology.

     
    Imagine if every month the government deposited $1,000 into your bank account, with nothing expected in return. It sounds crazy. But it has become one of the most influential and hotly debated policy ideas of our time. Futurists, radicals, libertarians, socialists, union representatives, feminists, conservatives, Bernie supporters, development economists, child-care workers, welfare recipients, and politicians from India to Finland to Canada to Mexico—all are talking about UBI.
     
    In this sparkling and provocative book, economics writer Annie Lowrey examines the UBI movement from many angles. She travels to Kenya to see how a UBI is lifting the poorest people on earth out of destitution, India to see how inefficient government programs are failing the poor, South Korea to interrogate UBI’s intellectual pedigree, and Silicon Valley to meet the tech titans financing UBI pilots in expectation of a world with advanced artificial intelligence and little need for human labor.
     
    Lowrey explores the potential of such a sweeping policy and the challenges the movement faces, among them contradictory aims, uncomfortable costs, and, most powerfully, the entrenched belief that no one should get something for nothing. In the end, she shows how this arcane policy has the potential to solve some of our most intractable economic problems, while offering a new vision of citizenship and a firmer foundation for our society in this age of turbulence and marvels.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    Chapter One

    The Ghost Trucks

    The North American International Auto Show is a gleaming, roaring affair. Once a year, in bleakest January, carmakers head to the Motor City to show off their newest models, technologies, and concept vehicles to industry figures, the press, and the public. Each automaker takes its corner of the dark, carpeted cavern of the Cobo Center and turns it into something resembling a game-show set: spotlights, catwalks, light displays, scantily clad women, and vehicle after vehicle, many rotating on giant lazy Susans. I spent hours at a recent show, ducking in and out of new models and talking with auto executives and sales representatives. I sat in an SUV as sleek as a shark, the buttons and gears and dials on its dashboard replaced with a virtual cockpit straight out of science fiction. A race car so aerodynamic and low that I had to crouch to get in it. And driverless car after driverless car after driverless car.

    The displays ranged in degrees of technological spectacle from the cool to the oh-my-word. One massive Ford truck, for instance, offered a souped‑up cruise control that would brake for pedestrians and take over stop-and‑go driving in heavy traffic. “No need to keep ramming the pedals yourself,” a representative said as I gripped the oversize steering wheel.

    Across the floor sat a Volkswagen concept car that looked like a hippie caravan for aliens. The minibus had no door latches, just sensors. There was a plug instead of a gas tank. On fully autonomous driving mode, the dash swallowed the steering wheel. A variety of lasers, sensors, radar, and cameras would then pilot the vehicle, and the driver and front-seat passenger could swing their seats around to the back, turning the bus into a snug, space-age living room. “The car of the future!” proclaimed Klaus Bischoff, the company’s head of design.

    It was a phrase that I heard again and again in Detroit. We are developing the cars of the future. The cars of the future are coming. The cars of the future are here. The auto market, I came to understand, is rapidly moving from automated to autonomous to driverless. Many cars already offer numerous features to assist with driving, including fancy cruise controls, backup warnings, lane-keeping technology, emergency braking, automatic parking, and so on. Add in enough of those options, along with some advanced sensors and thousands of lines of code, and you end up with an autonomous car that can pilot itself from origin to destination. Soon enough, cars, trucks, and taxis might be able to do so without a driver in the vehicle at all.

    This technology has gone from zero to sixty—forgive me—in only a decade and a half. Back in 2002, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of the Department of Defense and better known as DARPA, announced a “grand challenge,” an invitation for teams to build autonomous vehicles and race one another on a 142-mile desert course from Barstow, California, to Primm, Nevada. The winner would take home a cool million. At the marquee event, none of the competitors made it through the course, or anywhere close. But the promise of prize money and the publicity around the event spurred a wave of investment and innovation. “That first competition created a community of innovators, engineers, students, programmers, off-road racers, backyard mechanics, inventors, and dreamers who came together to make history by trying to solve a tough technical problem,” said Lt. Col. Scott Wadle of DARPA. “The fresh thinking they brought was the spark that has triggered major advances in the development of autonomous...

About the Author-

  • Annie Lowrey is a contributing editor for The Atlantic. A former writer for the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, and Slate, among other publications, she is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. Lowrey lives in Washington, DC.

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How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World
Annie Lowrey
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