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One of the biggest VCs in Silicon Valley explains how basic income could fail in America. Getty Images Sam Altman is putting a lot of faith in the idea that giving people free money will make them happier and healthier, but that doesn't mean he's betting it all.

One of the biggest VCs in Silicon Valley explains how basic income could fail in America

Altman is the president of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley's largest startup accelerator. He and a group of YC researchers plan to launch an experiment in Oakland, California, next year in which roughly 100 families will get $2,000 a month. The goal is to capture data that reveals whether free money on a regular basis (known as a basic income) really does help people escape poverty and live healthier lives. Data from underdeveloped countries, such as Kenya and Honduras, already suggests people do see those benefits. Uk.businessinsider. Reuters/Vesa Moilanen Finland has an ambitious New Year's resolution in mind: learn how offering free money for two years helps the unemployed get back to work.

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Starting January 1, 2017 and lasting until 2019, the federal social security institution Kela will distribute roughly $590 each month to 2,000 jobless Finns. Businessinsider. Reuters photographer More than 100 experts from Silicon Valley, activist communities, and academia have teamed up to learn about the year's most popular idea for fighting poverty.

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5 ways that basic income could actually work. It seems that basic income is on the lips of everyone today.

5 ways that basic income could actually work

From Finland to the Netherlands, Switzerland to Canada, governments and cities have embraced the idea as one worth testing. Although talk of basic income has been around for some time, it seems that now there is a real push, an unwavering drive and motivation to see how the idea could work in practice. Beyond the hype, however, lie some crucial questions that need to be addressed. With support from all sides of the political spectrum and interest from cities and states all over the world, it is evident that the discussion on basic income is painstakingly broad in scope and variety. President Obama hints at supporting unconditional free money because of a looming robot takeover.

REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke Basic income has finally reached the White House.

President Obama hints at supporting unconditional free money because of a looming robot takeover

In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, President Obama was asked directly about his feelings on basic income, a system of wealth distribution in which people receive a monthly check on top of their existing income to help cover expenses, thereby strengthening the social safety net. Obama's response: Job automation is getting too sophisticated not to at least consider it. "The way I describe it is that, because of automation, because of globalization, we're going to have to examine the social compact, the same way we did early in the 19th century and then again during and after the Great Depression," he told Bloomberg.

"The notion of a 40-hour workweek, a minimum wage, child labor laws, etc. - those will have to be updated for these new realities. " Obama is no stranger to the threat of robots replacing entire swaths of the American workforce. Other evidence is just as damning for the low-wage American worker. Here's why the inventor of the Internet supports basic income. A Nobel Prize winner in economics just backed basic income. REUTERS/Dominick Reuter Basic income is having a whirlwind year, and it was just galvanized even further by the support of Angus Deaton, the 2015 Nobel Prize winner for Economics.

A Nobel Prize winner in economics just backed basic income

At a universal basic income forum in Taiwan's capital on May 19, Deaton encouraged governments to consider lifting the financial burden on low-income citizens with basic income grants, the Taipei Times reports. Uk.businessinsider. The machines are coming for all of our jobs eventually, and in the face of that impending unemployment apocalypse, basic income is oft trotted out as the tonic that will cure us of extreme poverty and wealth inequality.

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But because there's little evidence-based research on what would actually happen to a society if you just gave everyone a salary with no strings attached, basic income remains a pipe dream for techno-futurists. Uk.businessinsider. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters They may be made of cardboard, but the robots have arrived.

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On April 30, activists descended on the streets of Zurich clad in makeshift robot costumes to show their support for universal basic income (UBI) — an increasingly popular form of income distribution that gives people monthly checks to cover basic living expenses, regardless of their working status. The rally was meant to generate buzz for the upcoming Swiss referendum on June 5, which, if approved, would institute a national UBI for the first time in history. All adult citizens would get $2,500 a month, and kids would receive $650, in an effort to strengthen the overall social safety net. The latest surveys show the referendum is highly unlikely to pass, as only 24% of citizens polled say they'd vote in favor of the policy, but that bleak outcome didn't stop protesters from getting in touch with their mechanical side.

Uk.businessinsider. Moyan Brenn/Flickr Scott Santens doesn't just want May 1st to be bigger than July 4th; he knows it will be.

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This May Day, Santens, an advocate for universal basic income and moderator of the basic income subreddit, launched his third annual Thunderclap campaign to spread the gospel about the most popular economic policy of the last year. Eventually, Santens hope that people think of May Day as a day to celebrate basic income. At 10 am EST, everyone who signed up for the campaign will share the same message on either Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr: "Let us celebrate the past, acknowledge the present, and embrace the future of labor — with #basicincome! #MayDay. " Uk.businessinsider. Brennan Linsley/AP The chief complaint people lodge at universal basic income — a form of income distribution that gives people money to cover basic needs regardless of whether they work or not — is that it'll make them lazy.

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Sam Altman doesn't buy it. On a recent episode of the Freakonomics podcast, entitled "Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income? " Altman argued basic income could support huge amounts of productivity loss and still carry the economy on its shoulders. "Maybe 90% of people will go smoke pot and play video games, but if 10% of the people go create incredible new products and services and new wealth, that's still a huge net-win," Altman says.

Lausanne could experiment with basic income scheme. Lausanne is joining the growing list of places looking to experiment with a universal basic income. Politicians in Lausanne — a city of around 150,000 people in Switzerland — have adopted a motion to carry out a pilot scheme for basic income in the city. Lausanne's city council has taken on a non legally-binding motion for the experiment, passing it by 39 votes to 37 last week, the Basic Income Earth Network reports. There aren't any concrete details yet about how any pilot scheme would work, other than that it would be similar to the experiment planned in Utrecht in the Netherlands. It would only include a small sample of Lausanne's population, and require funding from regional and national governments. Businessinsider. Dennis Owen/Reuters. Uk.businessinsider. Blair Gable/ReutersCanadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Finland and the Netherlands have already shown their interest in giving people a regular monthly allowance regardless of working status, and now Ontario, Canada is onboard.

Ontario's government announced in February that a pilot program will be coming to the Canadian province sometime later this year. The premise: send people monthly checks to cover living expenses such as food, transportation, clothing, and utilities — no questions asked. Uk.businessinsider. Doorstep PhotographyTim Draper (left) Tim Draper is known for having crazy ideas and for funding them. He's put forth plans to divide California into six states. He's also backed giant companies like Tesla that have big visions to change the worlds in crazy ways. Adoption of basic income in Europe - Business Insider Deutschland. Several European countries are moving to adopt universal basic income schemes in the next few years. If any of them come to fruition we could finally get an answer to one of the most exciting questions in economics: whether basic income is the best way to end poverty and the welfare state:

Uk.businessinsider. Uk.businessinsider. Finland has become the latest country to propose a basic income for all. If put into practice, the scheme would eventually see all Finnish citizens receiving an 800 euro stipend, per month, tax-free. How it would work Social benefit systems are complex and more often than not bureaucratic. The Finnish proposal, and others like it, seek to simplify those expenses by doing away with complex benefit systems. This Dutch city is offering residents a universal "basic income" — here's why it could work. Michael Kooren/Reuters A woman riding her bike in Utrecht. This policy could be the key to making the freelance economy work. Everyone's Talking About This Simple Solution To Ending Poverty By Just Giving People Free Money. Screenshot via The Pruitt-Igoe Myth A simple idea for eliminating poverty is garnering greater attention in recent weeks: automatically have the government give every adult a basic income. The Atlantic's Matt Bruenig and Elizabeth Stoker brought up the idea a few weeks ago when they contemplated cutting poverty in half and Annie Lowrey revisited it today in the New York Times.

Why A Swiss Proposal To Give Every Citizen $2,800 Each Month Is So Radical. REUTERS/Michael Buholzer Switzerland has a very direct style of democracy. For example, changes to the constitution, or "popular initiatives," can be proposed by members of the public and are voted on if more than 100,000 people sign them. If a majority of voters and cantons (Swiss states) agree, the change can be come law. This system not only allows individual citizens a high degree of control of their laws, but also means that more unorthodox ideas become referendum issues. There's A Way To Give Everyone In America An Income That Conservatives And Liberals Can Both Love.