Universal basic income: Bruce Sterling imagines the rest of the 21st century

by VanessaVaile

On BruceSterling imagining the #future & #BasicIncome at #SXSW…not for the faint of heart.

Bryan Alexander

How might universal basic income play out, if we choose to adopt it as a way to restructure our economy and society?  Cyberpunk writer, journalist, and killer speech-giver Bruce Sterling dove into some possibilities at the close of this year’s South By Southwest.

The speech begins with a gloomy rumination on the conference, so you can skip ahead to around 25:00 or 26:00 for the possible UBI futures.  And no, there’s no transcript available yet:

Sterling turns to human history to find ways of structuring a society that pays people not to work.  Helpfully he plays them out against the left-right political spectrum.  They include:

  • a universal academy, where people devote themselves to learning.
  • militarization: people serve and receive basic support, which pleases the right wing.
  • refugee status, where authorities supply clothing, food, shelter (“universal basic everything”).
  • a religious settlement, like living as monks or under sharia
  • expanded retirement.  “Everyone retires…

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