Category: silicon valley

Richard Branson Just Endorsed Basic Income — Here Are 10 Other Tech Moguls Who Support the Radical Idea

It might seem odd for tech entrepreneurs to take an interest in income distribution policy. But an increasing number of high-profile Silicon Valley executives are endorsing universal basic income(UBI), a system in which everyone receives a standard amount of money just for being alive.

Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson became the latest mogul to endorse the radical idea, writing in a blog post that “most countries can afford to make sure that everybody has their basic needs covered.”

sir richard branson universal basic income finland automation
Image Source: Twitter/ Richard Branson

On the one hand, basic income is a way to reduce poverty, but tech folks like Branson also see it as a way to solve the growing problem of robot automation, which they themselves are helping to create.

Here are some of the highest-profile entrepreneurs who have endorsed UBI.

Stewart Butterfield

Basic income advocates have long argued that the security of getting regular income would encourage people to take risks and invest.

Butterfield, CEO of the messaging app Slack, seemed to agree when he wrote on Twitter in early August that “giving people even a very small safety net would unlock a huge amount of entrepreneurialism.”

Pierre Omidyar

In February, the eBay founder donated$493,000 through his philanthropic organization, Omidyar Network, to an experiment in basic income taking place in Kenya later this year.

The experiment is put on by GiveDirectly, a charity that delivers cash transfers to people in East Africa as a means to lift the from poverty.

The findings will be “unlike those of any past study and provide evidence-based arguments to shed light on the discussions around the future of work and poverty alleviation policies,” according to a February statement.

Andrew Ng

In the wake of Donald Trump winning the US election, Ng, co-founder of Coursera and chief scientist at Baidu, wrote on Twitterthat “More than ever, we need basic income to limit everyone’s downside, and better education to give everyone an upside.”

Ng has expressed his support for basic income before. In January, he said at the Deep Learning Summit that basic income deserves serious consideration. He also claimed the government should help fund lifelong education to keep the workforce strong.

Sam Altman

The president of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s largest start-up incubator, Altman has repeatedly come out in favor of basic income, arguing that the robot-run economy will almost certainly materialize this century.

Y Combinator has launched a basic income experiment in Oakland, California to see how the system works in reality. Roughly 100 people are receiving $2,000 a month, no matter what.

Elon Musk

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Elon Musk interviewed by Chris Anderson at TED2017 – The Future You, April 24-28, 2017, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Image Source: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, told CNBC in a recent interviewthat “there’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation.”

He added that he couldn’t foresee any other solutions to the threat of robots taking everyone’s jobs than a system of basic income. Since automation would make cause both unemployment and economic output to rise, society might have no choice but to distribute a portion of the money to everyone equally.

Bill Gross

In his May 2016 investment outlook, Gross, co-founder of investment advisory firm Pacific Investment Management, suggested the US should spend money on “a revolutionary new idea called UBI — universal basic income.”

UBI emerged in the 1960s, so technically it isn’t new, but Gross understands that it’s still radical to most people. “If more and more workers are going to be displaced by robots, then they will need money to live on, will they not? And if that strikes you as a form of socialism, I would suggest we get used to it,” he said.

Ray Kurzweil

Kurzweil, a futurist and the co-founder of Singularity University, has expressed an interest in UBI to cover the basic necessities in life.

In a recent Q&A at Singularity University, he said people who are no longer forced to work for a monthly paycheck could instead pursue their passions.

“You’ll do something that you enjoy,” he said. “That you have a passion for. Why don’t we just call that work?”

Albert Wenger

A founder of several companies and now a partner at venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, Wenger has written extensively about the benefits of UBI on his blog.

Most people, Wenger wrote in May, “have resigned themselves to the fact that their earlier dreams of what they wanted to do in life will not be realized.” He says economic inequality is to blame, and a future of basic income could help rectify those missed opportunities.

Tim O’Reilly

O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media, has said he doesn’t necessarily believe the hype that automation will threaten US employment. But he does acknowledge that UBI is a good idea and “just the beginning of the discussion.”

For O’Reilly, what’s important is that work gives people both meaning and identity.

That’s how a basic income system could truly be successful, he says. It would reshape the definition of work itself, and give people more flexibility to do the things that feel most personally fulfilling.

Chris Hughes

Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes is an active supporter of UBI, telling NPR in September that the system could go a long way toward rebuilding Americans’ faith in an economy many people see as “broken in many ways.”

“Rather than try to restructure our economy so it looks like the 1950s, I think we have to be honest with ourselves,” he said.

Since jobs are already disappearing, Hughes urges people to consider what systems we’ll need to create if millions more follow.

The post Richard Branson Just Endorsed Basic Income — Here Are 10 Other Tech Moguls Who Support the Radical Idea appeared first on Futurism.

Lebanon Leads the Pack in Closing the Tech Industry’s Gender Gap

Taking the Lead

The tech sector is notoriously male-dominated. This is ever apparent in Silicon Valley in the U.S., a country where women make up 59 percent of the workforce, but only hold 30 percent of jobs in the tech industry. This disconnect is keeping the industry back, but it doesn’t exist everywhere. In Lebanon, things are changing for the better.

The Lebanese tech sector is also still very much dominated by men. However, programs like SE Factory, a bootcamp of sorts that prepares young people to enter the field, are starting to make changes. Asia Joumaa, a web developer at Pixel38 who graduated as a top student from the program, said, “I’ve always wanted to work as a web developer, and then I got into SE Factory, which helped me get there. There’s a lot of young women who want to get into tech here in Lebanon.” She and many others are showing how, as long as the support and educational resources exist, more and more women will be able to access these careers.

Image Credit: Flickr
Image Credit: WOCinTech Chat/Flickr

One example of how the Lebanese tech sector is changing lies within the Beirut Digital District (BDD), which is a major tech center located in the capital city. The BDD supports a massive percentage of tech work that is done within the country, approximately 70 companies (SE Factory among them). And, within this bustling tech hub, 55 percent of the work is done by women. And, while this isn’t the end of gender disparity in the Lebanese tech sector (executives are still represented by an 80-20 ratio of men to women), it is a sign that things are moving in the right direction.

One of the many Lebanese women who has worked with the unique challenges of life in Lebanon (which offers an incredible education system, but experiences consistent issues with politics, power outages, and slow internet) to create something incredible is Nadine Haram. She is the co-founder of Proximie, an augmented reality platform for virtual surgical training. This program could be a life-saving addition in war zones and other areas of conflict, along with remote locations. She graduated from an accelerator program at BDD, the U.K. Lebanon Tech Hub, and exemplifies what can happen with the correct support.

Moving Forward

Closing the gender gap in the tech sector is not trivial by any means. Balancing this inequality is vital to the future of the field itself, future technologies, and the global economy. Women make up slightly more than half of the total U.S. population. And, while they consume tech and engage with social media and apps just as much as (if not more than) men, women make up only 17% of Google’s, 15% of Facebook’s, and 10% of Twitter’s engineers. So, while women might be very involved with tech, they do not have a significant input on what is created and how. This is a massive setback for the future of developing technologies. How can innovation flourish when over half of the population’s input is left out of the conversation?

Things to Come: A Timeline of Future Technology [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

Additionally, as more and more women enter the tech sector, the economy will benefit and the gender pay gap will begin to close. Higher earnings, that are often accompanied by jobs in the tech sector, will help us all to reach these goals. So…how do we do it? Simply, though there are many steps along the way, through support. By making the tech sector a space that accepts and considers the ideas of people of all genders. By creating programs like the SE Factory that focus on young people and help them develop their skills and interests. By continuing to advance our educational systems to ensure that all students are granted equal and quality experiences so that one day, every student who has an interest in tech will have the capacity to make their dreams a reality.

The post Lebanon Leads the Pack in Closing the Tech Industry’s Gender Gap appeared first on Futurism.