Threesome Plastic Recycling – Open Source Circular Economy

DIY Plastic Recycling

Spring 2016 we aim at building a minimal-set of machines for a non-monetary economy using open-source licenced hardware. We start with plastic recycling.

Open Source Plastic Recycling

Opena’s goal to build an Open Nation includes both an inner and outer transition. The outer transition includes the transition to a socially and ecologically just economy. An open nation needs to move from a linear to a circular resource flow in order to become ecologically sustainable. A linear resource flow means that you extract resources from nature, you process those resources to make a product, this product is then bought and consumed. Once the product is consumed, most, or some of the product ends up as waste. A circular economy is an economy with no waste. The output from one industry or service, is the input of another.

Open source plastic recycling workshop

This spring we will try build a minimal viable circular economy for plastics by hosting a series of workshops building open source hardware machines. We want to build ten 3D printers, one plastic shredder and one plastic extruder. The 3D printers build objects from plastic filament. The shredder makes plastic pellets from plastic objects. The extruder makes plastic filament from pellets. It is a small but closed cycle of plastic.

Made up figures of where what and when about our OSCE plastic workshop.

Workshop participants will get 3D printers for themselves and access to the shredder and the extruder so that they can recycle their 3D printing plastic themselves. The output one machine is the input of another.

As a part of our workshop we are looking at various open source hardware for the different machines to find which ones are most suitable and provides the best quality within this price range.  We have chosen to build the Prusa i3 MK2, which is a 3D printer that has created a new standard for this segment of 3D printers as it includes calibration in three dimensions. This is something which has not been done in this price range before. The con is the higher price than if you go for the cheapest buy. It is possible to make the machine cheaper if you source the materials yourself and if you choose cheaper micro-processors, but for our first workshop we want to try to build the real deal, to see how good it can get. We want to feel the taste of quality prints! Also, it is good to have a quality standard to compare with would we choose to source our own materials in the future.

The second machine is a shredder. A shredder is basically a plastic grinder, a machine which cuts your beloved plastic things into smaller plastic grains. These grains can be melted by a third machine to produce filaments. The precious plastic’s shredder seem like a solid design, an alternative would be to go for a design with two rotors, but one rotor for this size of a machine should fit the job quite right.

The third and final machine needed is an extruder. An extruder takes plastic pellets produced from the shredder and turns it into filaments which can later be used for a 3D printer. Although precious plastics has an extruder as well, we found one which we think will produce better filaments as the extruder from precious plastics doesn’t seem to have the variable speed necessary or winding up of the spool necessary to produce a filament which can later be re-used in a 3D printer. The extruder we have chosen is the Lyman extruder. It won the Desktop Factory Competition and produces good results for a cheap price. It uses latex rollers to wind up with tension and a helix winder (wormgear) to make sure the thread aligns correctly on the spool. It further uses mechanical switches to self-regulate winding speed and produce constant-diameter filament.

Next week we will examine extruders more closely and why ABS and PLA are easier to work with than PP.

For more notes on shredder and extruder technical review you can visit Torbjørn’s notes on OSE’s wiki for the shredder here, and for the extruder here. For more information regarding the workshop you can contact us through facebook here.

By: Torbjørn Ludvigsen, Adam Engberg och Andreas Sjöstedt, Opena

EU committed to make scientific papers free to access by 2020

EU committed to make scientific papers free to access by 2020

The EU has taken significant steps to get research out of the Ivory Tower and increase its impact on innovation, economic growth, and societal development.

On 27 May 2016 EU Ministers of European Affairs, Industry, Research and related areas met in Brussels to call for action in support of research and innovation. Following a debate on open science, member states decided unanimously to transition towards an open science system and committed to open access of scientific publications as the default option by 2020. Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation defined this decision as “life-changing.” “We talked about open science for years and this step is just unique and huge,” said Moedas during the press conference that concluded the Competitiveness Council, “it is a major step forward for science.”

Chairing the Council, Sander Dekker, State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, pointed out that “the results of publicly funded research are currently not accessible to people outside university. As a result teachers, doctors, and entrepreneurs do not have access to the latest scientific insights that can be relevant to their work. Universities have to take out expensive subscriptions with publishers to gain access to publications.” Making all scientific publications freely accessible by 2020 is an important step to maximize the impact of research and innovation on the economy and the society at large.

Why aren’t research results freely accessible?
Most of publicly-funded research results are published in scientific journals. Academics submit an article based on their research to journal publishers, who manage the peer review process sending the draft to other academics who review the research. This process qualifies texts for publication, guaranteeing the quality of the published research. The cost of the peer review process relies heavily on taxpayer investments and the work of researchers, as publishers generally don’t pay academics for writing the articles or participating in the peer-review process.

After an article passes peer-review, the publisher prints it and, once it’s published, owns the paper. The journal publishers then sell access to the published research back to the academic institutions on a subscription basis. People without a university ID card need to pay to download the journal article (around €30 per single article). In the end, despite the fact that most research is funded by public money, almost none of this research is available to the general public, nor to researchers.

Putting out a journal costs money: publishers have to bear the cost of collecting journal articles, supporting the peer review process, copy-editing, publishing, and archiving. However, with the Internet bringing down costs of publishing, distribution, and peer review management, one might expect a reduction of the cost of academic publishing in recent years. Instead, the opposite has happened. According to the Association of Research Libraries, the price per subscription of serials rose by 215 percent between 1986 and 2003, despite the consumer price index only increasing 68 percent in that same period. In 2014 Elsevier, the largest publisher of scholarly journals, operated at a profit margin of 34 percent, and the next biggest, Springer Nature, is closely held. That is, almost four times the average profit margin of groups in the FTSE 100.

Why should research results be freely accessible?

The public funds the most research and could benefit if they could access the research they fund

The public funds the most research and could benefit if they could access the research they fund

Even if the decision taken during the Competitiveness Council is bold, the idea that the results of scientific research and the data should be accessible to all levels of society is widespread and has been extensively discussed. Being most of the research publicly funded, why are universities (which created this academic content), the public (which has indirectly funded this research with federal and state taxes), newspapers and think tanks (which could help extend research into the public sphere) denied free access to the results of that research?

The issue has both financial and ethical dimensions. On one side, journal subscriptions are often unaffordable in developing countries and are becoming unsustainable even for the wealthiest universities. As Harvard Library Faculty Advisory council said in a 2012 memo on the subject, “many large journal publishers have made the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive.”

But it’s not just about combating the rising costs of journal subscriptions, for what we are talking about most fundamentally is access to information and expansion of humanity’s collective knowledge base.

Open access nowadays
Some publishers offer, as an alternative to the subscription model, the Gold Open Access option. This option allows the free circulation of the published version of the article, upon payment from the submitter of a substantial fee, ranging roughly between €500-€5.000. Some publishers also offer free forms of open access (Green Open Access), but places restrictions on how papers can be shared, imposing an embargo period after which papers can be published, or allowing only the distribution of early drafts of the paper. However, in this case many publishers keep strict control over the most prestigious journals, which in most cases do not offer the open access option. As a consequence, many researchers may feel like they don’t have the luxury of choosing the open access options for fear that publishing on less prestigious journals might negatively impact their career.

picture by listentomyvoice on flickr

picture by listentomyvoice on flickr

Several universities and researchers are taking the Green Open Access option to promote openness in research. Institutions have created websites or repositories where faculty members can upload their papers, while some professors post their information on their personal websites or on third-party repository and social-networking sites like Academia.edu, Mendeley, and ResearchGate. Tools like Google Scholar help retrieve these articles.

A number of countries are promoting the use of free licenses by research institutions and public bodies. Public research funding in Estonia, for example, covers the costs of publishing in open access journals. New Zealand and Spain also require publication of publicly funded research results in digitized format in an open access repository. In 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released the memorandum “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research” to make the published results of federally funded research freely available to the public within one year of publication. Also CERN opened up its vast datasets and the (private) Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ensures that any research it funds is published only in journals that offer open access. The League of European Research Universities (LERU), a strong advocate of open access for research publications, supported the European Commission commitment to move forward on open access with the strong statement “Christmas is over. Research funding should go to research, not to publishers!”

glossa

Meanwhile, some open access advocates are taking action to demand a change of approach among publishers. A petition that calls for significantly lower fees for the journal Cognition (one of Elsevier 1.800 hybrid open-access journals) has been signed by more than 1.500 people, including such research celebrities as Noam Chomsky. In October 2015 all of Elsevier Lingua’s six editors and 31 editorial-board members resigned after Elsevier rejected their request for lower article processing charges, the right for authors to retain copyright over their own work, and, ownership of the journal. After leaving their positions at Lingua, the editors started a new open-access journal called Glossa. Last February, some took out their frustrations by posting, with the hashtag #ElsevierValentines, Valentine verses that disclosed what a complicated love affair academic publishing is.

Nonetheless, currently less than a quarter of all scientific papers are accessible on an open access basis.

What is going to happen next?
The decision taken by the Competitiveness Council, welcomed by Carlos Moedas with the statement “openness is our motto,” is a significant step forward in what can be describes as a cultural change. If we consider that during the 12th century the great scientists of the age (as Leonardo, Galileo, Hook, and Huygens) used to share their discoveries using anagrams, so that they could claim to have ownership over a discovery or invention without sharing their knowledge, it is clear that we are participating in a major cultural transition towards openness and collaboration that has been going on for centuries.

But even if nowadays open access is fast becoming the norm in the dissemination of research outputs, there are still issues, both logistic and financial, that need to be tackled. In fact, the Competitiveness Council has not provided details on how countries are expect to implement the transition to open access in less than 4 years. “To the European Commission, Green and Gold both are acceptable,” said Robert-Jan Smits, director-general for research and innovation.

The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) in The Hague, the main Dutch funding agency, has expressed a strong preference for Gold Open Access. Many Open Access advocates are critical of this approach, as it places on universities and research

funders the burden of the extra costs by the payment of both subscriptions and Article Processing Charges (APC). On this topic, LERU notes that the costs of Gold APC charges are commonly lower in born open access than hybrid journals, and demands fair and transparent allocation of costs. Many prefer Green Open Access instead, but challenges remain about the Intellectual Property Rights and the embargo periods.

By: Federica Savino

Kindness comes from human nature and not from capitalism

Kindness comes from human nature and not from capitalism

Today’s economy is built on the idea that humans are naturally selfish, and that rewards are needed in order for the best of both us and society to be seen. We live in a society that validates, condones and encourages actions through monetary bonuses, salary and other extrinsic rewards. ‘Successful’ is often synonomous with ‘wealthy’. Let’s take the current scale for measuring professional value: salaries. Stock-brokers are, by this measure, more valuable to society than eldercare or disability workers.

Many would argue that this rewards system is needed in order for people to take responsibility (even though volunteers exists). This belief however, is based on the underlying assumption that humans are intrinsically selfish.

Altruism: the willingness to be kind

Altruism is “a motivational state with the ultimate goal of increasing another’s welfare” [1]. Basically the willingness to be kind. There has been two major philosophies regarding where this source of kindness comes from and what role it play. The Aristotelean school of thought sought to do activities for well-being through ethical and political thinking, aiming to reach what they thought was the highest human good (eudaemonia). On the other hand, the Hedonic school of thought of ancient Greece sought to have actions motivated by a strife to maximize pleasure and minimize pain  (hedonism). From that time to modern time there has been a debate of wether or not human kindness is at its ultimate core motivated by selfishness, or if a true unselfish will to help others, only for their own good, truly exists.

True selfless kindness is real

The philosophical perspectives of kindness can more or less be translated into psychological models which can then be tested. Cialdini et. al proposes that kindness is motivated by an innate drive to reduce negative moods, and that being kind ultimately comes from an hedonic selfish drive (1981). They call this the ‘negative-state relief model’. The idea is that this drive makes us want to help others in order to make ourselves feel better. The unselfish proposition is the ’emphathy-altruism hypothesis’ which suggests that altruism, the will to be kind, may be motivated by the feeling of empathy, such as compassion and sympathy (Batson et al., 1987; Fultz et al., 1988).

The selfish and unselfish theories of altruism however can, and have been tested. The shocking news is that from the 80’s, when these tests began, the unselfish version of altruism seemed to exist. By testing how female students would interact with electric shocks Batson et al. got evidence in 1981 that empathy-altruism vs empathy-egoism, the empathy-altruism won the comparison. After this, almost a decade later, in 1990, Dovidio, Allen and Schroeder once more showed that the unselfish kindness model gave a more accurate result than the egoistic ‘negative state relief interpretation’. Their findings were presented in the article with the subtitle ‘Evidence for altruistic motivation‘. So from 1980 psychologists started to realize that there is evidence for unselfish kindness.

THERE IS EVIDENCE FOR UNSELFISH KINDNESS

What is interesting is that this unselfishness starts from an early age. Some would argue that people and children do unselfishly kind acts if they know someone is watching them, in order to get esteem from others or build a nice image, or even due to culture. But an experiment made to test this says otherwise. Hepch, Vaish and Tomasello noticed an equal increase in happiness within children when the children saw someone else being helped, as well as when they themselves were the ones who helped them. It did not matter if the child received appreciation for helping the other as the child became happy regardless of if the children themselves were the helping agent or not and thus “seem to have genuine concern for the welfare of others” (2012). So basically, true altruism exists and the models are stronger than the selfish theories. What is also important is that science says that this unselfish kindness exists from birth.

The source of good will is human nature. Not capitalism or rewards

The Hedonic view and the capitalistic idea that man is ultimately selfish, even when being kind, affects how we train our children to become kind. We often gives them treats or ‘teach’ them the art of kindness, as was suggested by prominent psychologists Kohlberg (1958) and Piaget (1932).

To test these ideas, Warneken and Tomasello (2007) gave 20-months old children extrinsic rewards over a period of time whenever they conducted helpful behaviour as an attempt to reward helpfulness and thus increase it (fitting to the idea that altruism is taught, and that it at its core comes from selfish motivation of wealth accumulation or personal gain). What is interesting is that the treat did the exact opposite!

388px-Infant_smileCHILDREN WHO RECEIVED REWARDS FOR HELPING BECAME LESS HELPFUL

The children who received rewards became less helpful during the experiment, showing that rewarding helpful behaviour actually undermines it, making us more selfish and less kind.

So then how to motivate to do good? Doing good and seeing good being done is the motivation and brings joy. If receiving rewards undermines altruism, then how can we express our gratitude to people who we consider to be helpful? The answer may seem surprising, but receiving a reward may not be the most important thing to us.

Let us recap before we move on: 1. Infants can understand simple inferred goals, and help without being asked. 2. Children become happy when someone is being helped, even if they do not get any personal recognition for being the ones that help. 3. Rewarding kindness and putting focus on our personal gains in helping others makes us less kind.

But what about the individual? If we do want to think in a more selfish term, and we want to be happy, isn’t getting rewards still a nice thing? Well, this is an outdated belief that yet again doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. In 2012 scientists showed the contrary:

INFANTS BECOME HAPPIER GIVING TREATS AWAY, RATHER THAN RECIEVING THEM

So yes, there is some form of selfish benefit from helping others as well: we ourselves become happy. But the real take-away is that we do want others to be helped, and as a bonus it makes us genuinely happy. And giving may be more important than receiving on a psychological level. Remember that it doesn’t need to be resources, it can be to help others complete their tasks, or giving them some of your time while wanting nothing back from it. I think we need a new definition of both success, moral development and a new economical view of the unselfish man.

A capitalistic perspective makes it harder to be altruistic… and happy

The capitalistic assumptions that we are driven by profit, gain, fear of loss and are selfish at our core, have made our society develop counter-acting mechanisms to increase altruism and good will in society. This perspective is based on out-dated psychology and today we have the knowledge to create a society which does not work against our naturally tendencies to help others and receive joy from it – and with this perspective perhaps we can even increase, and allow, our true altruistic nature to flourish. With this intelligence also comes the understanding that it is not payment that makes us help others. A world without jobs will not by default be without kindness – hopefully it will allow us to act freely out of goodwill, and like the children who choose to give their candy away: receive more pleasure by voluntarily helping others, than to receive from others. The collaborative economy is built on people developing society without the need to claim personal ownership over the developed knowledge or products: but still they continue. Under the capitalistic perspective this is hard to understand, but as we learn more about human nature, we start to realize that we have collaboration and self-determination at our core. If we posses the need to receive a salary in order to help others, remember that it seems to be more a temporary construct manifested by wrongful assumptions about the nature of man.

Economy 4.0 need to acknowledge that kindness motivates us and makes us happy

Today’s economy is built on transactions of selfishness, whereas the new economy needs to embrace altruism as a genuine source of motivation and behaviour. Altruism exists from birth, and is actually undermined through rewarding us with selfish gains; the very act of being kind is what makes us happy and motivates us. This, at least before society teaches us how we can receive personal gain through helping others and thereby making us, paradoxically enough, less kind, and less unselfish. This may mean that we need to stop seeing unpaid work and help as a bad or neutral thing, and allows us to accept that having a decrease in paid ployment due to automatisation will not necessarily be a burden for society. Citizens have a motivation to help others, if we give this motivation space to bee completely altruistic. It gives some hope that a basic income, an automated collaborative economy or an resource based economy is not only possible, but also holds more potential for unlocking the kindness we secretly harbour within.

By: Andreas Sjöstedt
Edited by: Ellen Wheeler

My Personal Path Towards Open Collaboration

My Personal Path Towards Open Collaboration

Collaboration has existed in many forms since the dawn of time. We come together as teams to learn, to improve and to contribute. Collaboration is one of my favourite things, as I find it to be a brilliant example of humanity’s potential. We overcome many obstacles in order to create something that wasn’t there before, whether it be physical, relational, or conceptual. Open Collaboration is changing the way we work and is gaining more and more recognition. In brief, open collaboration is typically an online environment that supports the collective production of an artifact through a technologically mediated collaboration platform that presents a low barrier to entry and exit, and supports the emergence of persistent but malleable social structures. When I choose to write about my transition towards open collaboration, I was at first excited. And then terrified. Mostly because a part of me was ashamed. I loved the idea of open collaboration, but I couldn’t practice it very well and I didn’t know why.

Clinging to power

In retrospect, there were three main obstacles that I needed to overcome in order to embrace and practice the open collaboration idea. Firstly, I had to overcome notions of power. Have you ever been part of a team where you felt that you are working with some very talented people, and wondered if you would be able to keep up? Or alternatively, perhaps you’ve worked with others who hang on your every word, and some small part of you liked the edge you seemed to have? I have experienced both. When I was asked about my ideas from those seemingly more talented, I would tell them I was ‘still thinking’, when in actual fact, I already had four ideas that could have used some helpful input. And when I was asked how I came up with an idea, a method, or a solution by one who was keen to learn the process, I am ashamed to admit that I would sometimes simply shrug it off with an ‘it just came to me’, when I could have shared a little more insight into my thought process.
The question is, why? Why did I hold back? What was stopping me from sharing? Reading about leading across differences in Aigner and Skelton’s book, ‘The Australian Leadership Paradox’, I came across a passage that talked about collaboration and power. In summary,  we react to power in groups, negotiating our own through our knowledge.

“When we feel we have less power and we are undervalued or unacknowledged, we hang on to what we have in the power and resources stakes… The tighter we hold on to what we have or know, the harder it is for us to innovate, take risks, and be open to difference and diversity.” (ibid)

That was my light bulb moment. It became clear why I clung so tightly to ideas. Relinquishing ideas for me had meant loosing my perceived value, and therefore power. How then did I move forward? The antidote for this mental power play was trust. By widening my circle of trust, I didn’t need to prove my value or power. By extending my trust to the team, and openly contributing, I could fully engage without the fear of loosing something.

Harmonising Recognition

Closely related to power, my second obstacle was recognition. Or more directly, the need for it. In a world where I like to think I’m contributing to the ‘greater good’, it was quite humbling to come to terms with the fact that a part of me craved constant recognition. I don’t believe that recognition is inherently bad, in fact I think that recognition is an empowering and necessary part of life. However, when the need for individual recognition becomes too dominant, then it’s not very useful. While I wasn’t asking for my name up in lights, I did crave the need to be praised for an individual identity. To be constantly validated as ‘someone’ in the mass; to be the creative one, the reliable one, or the visionary one. This led to disengagement, and an unwillingness to fully commit. Definitely a stumbling block when it came to open collaboration, where the power of the concept lies in the masses.

In order to move towards open collaboration, I had to stop focusing solely on my identity and also focus on that of the team. It wasn’t about sacrificing my individual identity and importance, but letting go of the idea that it needed to be constantly recognised and validated. Occasionally, yes, but not constantly. I used to play hockey, and it wasn’t useful to the outcome if I constantly needed to affirm that I was the wing, and wasn’t the wing really important, and just in case you forgot, I was the wing! Yes, I was the wing player, and that was recognised and important, but so was the midfielder and the goalie. We were all equally important and diverse, and recognised for such. We were also a team, and both identities went hand in hand. I couldn’t be one without the other. Such is the case with collaboration. Recognition is healthy, but it shouldn’t dominate the focus. Individuality is valued, and comes together to constitute the team.

The Art of Vulnerability

The last obstacle was perhaps my biggest one: vulnerability. Generally, I cower from its prospect, with the tendency to avoid it at all costs. I have a sneaking suspicion many people do! For me, this may materialise as the fear of saying what I really think, volunteering for something I’m not good at, or avoiding voicing anything that I suspect may be considered too stupid or crazy. The idea of open collaboration means that the feedback is constant, the environment ever changing, and the social structures emerging. Avoiding vulnerability is probably possible, but in return you forgo your ability to really be a part of it.

This was my hardest obstacle, because the solution lay with vulnerability. Overcoming this obstacle meant being vulnerable. By recognising, feeling and then accepting it. That was the hardest part: acceptance. Accepting that saying what I really think is intimidating but necessary, and there was nothing else for it. I found that when I was faced with this obstacle, I had to embrace it with the knowledge that strength is found in vulnerability: in the willingness to be wrong, or to alter what you had grown attached to.

Conclusion: Shifting from Ego to Eco

In all this fear and withholding, I had missed the big picture. My stumbling blocks were all bound by a similar theme: the focus on the advancement of the individual, to the detriment of the collective. It wasn’t about individual power, contribution or strength that made something great, but the power, contribution and strength of collaboration. Cue Aristotle talking about the whole vs the sum of it’s parts. The collective is so much stronger than the individual, remembering that each individual is important and unique. Open collaboration has such positive power in its potential. It embodies so many valiant ideals, ones that can take us forward in leaps and bounds. What I’ve learnt is this: find a movement, concept or idea you think is worthy and embrace it. If you stumble, find out why and start again. Think about it; talk about it; write about it. Offer it to the world. Something good may come from it, something bigger than you dared dream. Each experience is different, but each experience is valuable. Share your journey. This is mine.

Universal Basic Income

Universal Basic Income

Universal basic income
Switzerland has voted about it, and Finland is planning experiments. The topic is Universal Basic Income (UBI), a strategy meant to mitigate the risk that increased automation and globalisation plays on social-justice and mass-unemployment. From being a small, almost obscure idea, it now has support of both politicians and scientists, including several Nobel price winners such as Nobel Laureate Economist Angus Deaton, Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz. Nobel economy price winners James Tobin, Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, James Meade, Paul Krugman, F. A. Hayek, Herbert A. Simon, and Robert Solow have also shown their support. It seems as if UBI is here to stay, but why the sudden rush?

Dealing with increased automation
We are living in a time where more and more of our tasks and jobs are becoming automated. As more and more of us humans can be replaced with machines, computers and artificial intelligence, there is a growing concern that our society is not ready for such a technological revolution and that we are heading towards mass-unemployment and a derailing power imbalance between machine-owners and the rest.  

Mass-unemployment
The first fear, that automation may lead to mass-unemployment, refers not only to un-qualified or white-collar jobs, but also jobs which have previously been regarded as being a domain for humans. We have already seen Artificial Intelligence (a.i.)  excell in the work of  scientists, lawyers, business strategists, and stock-traders. Automation has previously led to new types of work, as was the case during the industrial revolution, leading humans to be able to focus on more cognitively heavy work-duties. But as a.i. is entering the field of automation, many argue that more jobs are disappearing than those being created, and that this time it is different. So far it may have lead to an increase of GDP without an increase of median income (source), but the more a.i. develops,, the more profound the effects will be. Automated transportation is up-and-coming, something which will affect for example truck-drivers, which, by the way, is the most common job in 29 states in the USA. This is but one example of how big the impact is going to be.

UBI Re-enters the conversation
One way to deal with future automation and socialise the effects it will have on society is to provide universal basic income so that everyone is guaranteed a continued minimum financial voice even if robots would be given our jobs. Universal basic income “is an income paid by a political community to all its members on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement” (P. Van Parijs, 2003, p. 4).  It is an old idea, and has advocates on both the far right and the far left. Small experiments have previously been made with universal basic income, but it is not until now, when facing artificially intelligent automation, that it has gained attention from the general public and government. The idea has now been up for a vote in Switzerland (which they turned down), has had planned and initiated experiments in the US, been budgeted for by the Canadian government, and had research and experiments planned for in Finland.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f5/50_Eurobanknoten_in_der_Hand_aufgefaechert.JPG/624px-50_Eurobanknoten_in_der_Hand_aufgefaechert.JPG

UBI Experiments
Evidence for the social benefits of UBI can be found in the following studies that have been previously and are currently being implemented. UNICEF
payed for three trials of UBI in India. The research gave some interesting results. “Contrary to what sceptics predicted the basic incomes model created more economic activity and work” (Guy Standing, The Guardian, 2014). It also rejected the hypothesis that UBI would result in inflation. Looking at food prices during the experiment one could see that inflation did not happen, rather the contrary occurred. Prices actually went down as a result of increased food production, leading to lower unit prices and more nutritional value for the money. The main four effects of the pilot wereincreased welfare, equity, growth and emancipation. The result of two of these trials are covered in the book Basic Income: A Transformative Policy for India.

“This resulted in 8.5 per cent fewer hospital visits, fewer mental health visits, and more graduating teenagers.”

Experiments have also been carried out in the developed world; Canada issued one test in the 70s which lasted 4 years. Not a complete universal basic income, but a mincom, which is a basic income given to families living under the poverty line. This resulted in 8.5 per cent fewer hospital visits, fewer mental health visits, and more graduating teenagers. Concerning the criticism that people will quit work, there were only two segments of the population who worked less: mothers, who wanted more time with their children, and teenagers – perhaps supporting the higher among of teenage graduates.

More experiments need to be done in order to learn more, and more experiments are to be made. Canada will run an experiment in Ontario, and Finland has a thorough collaborative, experimentalist and research based universal basic income project in the pipes. Hopefully these will provide us with the information we need to learn how universal basic income can be implemented successfully, regarding the well-being of  society, the individual person, and the planet. One cannot help but be hopeful that universal basic income can be an effective middle-stage tool in giving humans more free time to pursue creative and personally chosen life-styles due to the effects of automation.  Automation will eliminate the necessity to work if the wealth created by those machines is, even in the smallest quantities, shared equally among women and men. Preliminary results of UBI shows increased health, higher rate of completion of one’s education, higher economical activities and no increases in prices. Perhaps UBI is not only a half-baked solution, but a very doable, effective, and safe first step towards sharing the positive impact of automation to all mankind on an equal basis.

By: Andreas Sjöstedt

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Articles

Welcome to our new articles page, where we will discuss our sense-making process towards an ethical resource distribution. The aim is to help change agents make real change, and find paths to successfully reach social-justice with natural and social science. We will cover themes such as universal basic income, the collaborative commons, as well as ways to use automation to create an automated ethical circular collaborative economy.