PODCAST: Can the Universal Basic Income Save Asia from the Automation Cliff?

PODCAST: Can the Universal Basic Income Save Asia from the Automation Cliff?
Photo Credit: Corbis/達志影像

What you need to know

Check out the latest episode of The News Lens Radio.

Nobody is safe from the automation cliff. If we want to avoid this enormously disruptive trend, the time is now to start the process of implementing universal basic income.

In this episode of The News Lens Radio, we sound out the views of experts and academics working on advocacy and implementation of a universal basic income (UBI) – the unconditional distribution of enough cash for all of us to secure a basic standard of living.

Critics have called UBI unaffordable, a deterrent to seeking work, and in the case of Switzerland, which rejected a nationwide referendum on the scheme last year, a surefire way to attract unwanted immigration. Even so, the idea has grabbed global headlines, most recently in Ontario, Canada, where the government just announced it will pioneer a three-year trial distributing up to C$17,000 (US$12,500) to 4,000 people each year for three years.

But what about Asia? UBI is put forward as a balm for problems such as poverty and inequality, but crucially for our region, technological unemployment. As businesses invest in automation instead of employees, what might be the fallout for manufacturing-based economies across the Asia Pacific, and could UBI be a solution worth considering?

About the guests

We hear from guests drawn from all over the world, including academics and policymakers attending the recent UBI in Asia-Pacific Conference right here in Taipei.

Our speakers include Scott Santens, a New Orleans-based writer and long-time member of the Universal Income Project, a global advocacy initiative for UBI. Those interested in following up with Scott, including on his experience living on a crowd-sourced basic income, check out his website here, or reach him on Twitter @scottsantens.

Martin Hiesboeck, the director of digital marketing and future technologies at Geber Brand Consulting in Taipei, gives his take on whether the threat of technological unemployment is as real as oft-quoted studies suggest. For more from Martin, follow him @MHiesboeck.

Furui Cheng, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, offers insight into the progress of Chinese villages experimenting with distributing social dividends funded by collective ownership and operation of land.

Tyler Prochaska, who wrote his thesis on China’s minimum livelihood guarantee, or "dibao," gives his take on whether it was worth the 17 years it took to formulate. Tyler is an editor at the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) and you can reach him there, or @typro.

And last but by no means least, Professor Gregory Marston, Head of the School of Social Sciences at Queensland University, puts UBI in its global political context, and suggests what fundamental changes might need to occur for the idea to become widely accepted.

This podcast is available via the SoundCloud, Stitcher and iTunes apps


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