Last week, I wrote about Venture for America founder Andrew Yang’s unlikely run for president, as he aims to convince the general public of the need for universal basic income (UBI). Whether one agrees that UBI is necessary in today’s digital economy or not, the stories highlighted in this week’s Heartland Tech newsletter show that inequality is increasingly top of mind for tech companies and their executives.
Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes has a new book out today in which he joins Yang in calling for the implementation of UBI. Meanwhile, his former employer is giving troves of personal data to Stanford researcher Raj Chetty, who will study the roles social divisions play in income inequality, as Politico’s Nancy Scola reported.
Finally, as I reported yesterday, tech think tank the Information Technology and Innovation Fund (ITIF) is calling for an overhaul of workforce training programs as artificial intelligence prepares to automate an array of tasks that workers perform today. But at the same time, the think tank came out against UBI, arguing that artificial intelligence won’t automate as many jobs as people fear.
What I feel is missing from these discussions is the hiring practices that may have contributed to income inequality. Certainly, automation threatens to disrupt the jobs of millions of Americans from Silicon Valley to the Heartland — as has been true with any new technology. But when nearly 3 in 4 new jobs go to the most prosperous 40 percent of ZIP codes in the U.S. — and companies with huge market caps, like Facebook, are often the ones adding these jobs — it’s not enough to simply look at how training and UBI can aid the communities that are receiving fewer and fewer jobs.
Thanks for reading,
Heartland Tech Reporter
Please enjoy this video from CNBC, “Facebook cofounder’s proposal to rethink inequality”
From the Heartland Tech Channel
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A Stanford economist is using the company’s vast store of personal data to study why so many in the U.S. are stuck in place economically. (via Politico)
A universal basic income (UBI) is at the heart of the debate about how society will organize itself after robots and algorithms do more and more of today’s work. Not everyone agrees how we do this. (via Quartz)
Last week, Seattle became the first city to crack down on the secrecy surrounding online political ads. Experts say it likely won’t be the last. (via Governing)
One of the top selling points for blockchain technologies is that it decentralizes whatever it is used for — cryptocurrencies, government records or health data. So, it might sound a little strange for a bunch of local blockchain-based startups to centralize their efforts. But that’s exactly what’s happening. (via Austin Inno)