In Brief
Flickr and Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield wants to see universal basic income become a reality, citing its potential to give more people the chance to become entrepreneurs.

Follow the Money

As automation becomes more and more ingrained in everyday tech, we’re likely to see robots taking on all kinds of jobs previously staffed by humans. This will most likely leave many out of the job they were previously qualified for. Universal basic income (UBI) is often touted as a solution to this problem, and support for the idea is growing in Silicon Valley.

Flickr and Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield is the latest tech billionaire to declare that he’s backing UBI.

“Doesn’t have to be much, but giving people even a very small safety net would unlock a huge amount of entrepreneurialism,” Butterfield said on Twitter earlier this month. His stance echoes recent comments made by Sir Richard Branson regarding UBI’s potential to encourage people to start their own business ventures and independent projects.

Billionaire’s Row

Many of the wealthiest in the tech industry have been very vocal about the need for UBI. Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk has been particularly outspoken, recently predicting that the rise of automation will force the government’s hand in introducing UBI.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also made his support known, and Bill Gates expressed an interest, although he maintains that we’re not yet ready to make such a leap.

Of course, there are dissenting voices too. Dallas Mavericks owners and AXS TV chairman Mark Cuban has stated his opinion that UBI would be one of the “worst possible responses” to a lack of paid work caused by automation.

The biggest question with UBI is where the money would come from. Some have argued that taxing robots is the way to go, while others think that current welfare practices could successfully be reformed to fit a new landscape. It would no doubt take a lot of work to get UBI up and running on a large scale — but if it was, it has the potential to change a lot of lives for the better.