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This top scientist offers a solution for the havoc driverless cars may wreak on workers. Andrew Ng, chief scientist of Baidu, is one of the most prominent minds on artificial intelligence in Silicon Valley.

This top scientist offers a solution for the havoc driverless cars may wreak on workers

Find out his thoughts on the practicality of self-driving cars, and what the average person needs to do to adapt to them. (Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post) Proponents of autonomous vehicles are in a sticky situation. Self-driving technology is expected to have a tremendous impact on public health and reduce the 1.25 million deaths every year on global roads. At the same time, this emerging technology is a threat to the employment of the millions who are paid to sit behind the wheel — from truck drivers to cab drivers and delivery workers. Baidu chief scientist Andrew Ng, an expert in the world of artificial intelligence, acknowledges the unemployment concerns, but he sees a way forward that offers society the benefits of autonomous vehicles and blunts the negative impact of job losses. Baidu plans to have commercial self-driving cars on the road in 2018. Tired of capitalism? There could be a better way.

By Matt Bruenig September 30 A Thai investor reacts to falling share prices after China’s economic slide this August.

Tired of capitalism? There could be a better way.

(Rungroj Yongrit/European Pressphoto Agency) Each week, In Theory takes on a big idea in the news and explores it from a range of perspectives. This week we’re talking about universal basic income. Universal basic income: A primer. iStock Across the nation, politicians, economists and unions are attempting to define a living wage.

Universal basic income: A primer

But whether they’re fighting for $15 per hour or defending $7.25, they are all assuming that people will work for the money. Having enough to live on still necessitates getting a job. What if there were a simpler way to ensure that everyone made enough to survive? Enter universal basic income. The idea sounds radical today, but is by no means new — and it has been embraced by some on the right as well as the left. Advocates say that a basic income would give workers more bargaining power, with the resources to leave bad jobs without fear and the flexibility to spend more time on study, family care or other pursuits.

Outside the United States, basic income is gaining some traction. Our welfare system insults the poor. Basic income could do better. By Matt Zwolinski September 28 Discount grocery stores are haven for easy to prepare items that are very cheap, though generally not very nutritious.

Our welfare system insults the poor. Basic income could do better.

(Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post) Each week, In Theory takes on a big idea in the news and explores it from a range of perspectives. This week we’re talking about universal basic income. Matt Zwolinski is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Diego, and co-director of USD’s Institute for Law and Philosophy. Too often in the United States, welfare comes with strings attached. We need a new version of capitalism for the jobless future. The most conservative way to fight poverty is to send everyone a government check.

We see your block grants, Paul Ryan, and raise you a guaranteed universal income.

The most conservative way to fight poverty is to send everyone a government check

(AP Photo/Steve Helber) Rep. Paul Ryan's new plan to reduce poverty is based on conservative principles: taking control away from Washington, encouraging the poor to work and rewarding success. But if the goal is to solve poverty with conservative policies, Ryan's plan may not be conservative enough. And there is another, older idea that would, one that has been endorsed by thinkers on both sides of the political divide. Ryan's basic idea is to consolidate the federal government's antipoverty programs into a single check that the federal government would cut to each state. But wouldn't it be even more amenable to conservative principles to eliminate government interference altogether, whether federal or state?

Free money might be the best way to end poverty. A Fox News anchor just endorsed something you'd never expect. A basic income is the best policy idea you’ve never heard of.

A Fox News anchor just endorsed something you'd never expect.

The idea is simple: instead of, or in addition to, the panoply of government transfer programs currently in place, we just give everyone in the country a set amount of money per year, no strings attached. The benefit could phase out as one’s income rises (this variant is known as a “guaranteed minimum income”) or could just be granted unconditionally: you get $10,000 a year, I get $10,000 a year, the poorest of the poor get $10,000 a year, Bill Gates gets $10,000, etc. The idea has an impressive intellectual lineage. Famed libertarian economist Milton Friedman advocated a guaranteed minimum income (implemented through a scheme known as a “negative income tax”), as did Martin Luther King Jr.

Thinking Utopian: How about a universal basic income? In light of the recent Oregon Medicaid study, several people have discussed the idea of taking parts of the social insurance system and replacing them with cash benefits.

Thinking Utopian: How about a universal basic income?

This naturally brings up the debate about whether it should be a policy goal for the United States to adopt a universal basic income (UBI). These poverty-level targeted incomes are universal and unconditional, so everyone would get them regardless of their income, status or work participation. Obama doesn’t want to just write welfare recipients checks. But what if we did? In Mitt Romney's new welfare reform attack ad, an ominous voice declares, "Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work.

Obama doesn’t want to just write welfare recipients checks. But what if we did?

You wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check. " This, suffice it to say, is false. What the administration has done is start accepting applications for waivers from specific requirements of the welfare reform law to allow states to experiment with new models, such as paying employers rather than recipients and promoting job training. They haven't accepted any waivers yet, and so speculating about specific policy changes at this point is just that — speculation.