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BERLIN, GERMANY: Panel debates Basic Income at tech conference

A tech conference held in October in Berlin, Germany, included a panel on universal basic income, which featured basic income popularizer Michael Bohmeyer (Mein Grundeinkommen) alongside three AI experts.

The Data Natives conference, which took place in Berlin from October 26 through 28, featured a variety of sessions on data science, AI, machine learning, and related technical topics, as well as sessions on business in a data-driven age [1].

Amidst its panels and presentations on data science, software development, and business, there was one politically-oriented panel: “The Future of AI and Universal Basic Income”.

The panel discussion was moderated by Hans Uszkoreit, scientific director of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (who speaks about his own work in a separate session), and included three panelists: Abdourahmane Faye, a machine learning specialist who works on what advanced data analytics can do for business; NiMA Asghari, UAV applications expert at Drone Industry Insights; and Michael Bohmeyer, founder of Mein Grundeinkommen, a German non-profit organization that has given away dozens of year-long basic incomes to randomly-selected entrants.

Panelists discussed such issues as whether artificial intelligence really will destroy jobs, whether individuals with a basic income would lose motivation to work and help others, and whether it is accurate to extrapolate the findings of basic income pilot studies (including individual trials like those of Mein Grundeinkommen) to a society with a full-scale universal basic income.

While Bohmeyer, of course, is a champion of UBI, others on the panel hold less favorable views. Faye opposed the policy: expressing confidence in humanity’s ability to continue to create new jobs in a digitized, automated economy, he does not see a need for UBI, and he worries that a UBI would undermine work incentives. Asghari seemed to assume a more neutral territory, raising points both for and against UBI throughout the discussion.

Watch the four men speak from really short chairs in this complete video of the session:

[1] The author, being both fond of puns and a big fan the band Einstürzende Neubauten, would like to make special note of a session entitled “Einstürzenden Neudaten“.

Reviewed by Genevieve Shanahan 

Photo: nHow (conference venue) lobby CC-BY-SA-3.0 Forster82

Kate McFarland

About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 500 articles.

I was a statistician, then a philosopher, then a journalist for a certain Basic Income News, and I have never been the sort to wed myself to any specific position or career path. (I have always chosen to remain in the precariat for this reason: my sense of duty is strong enough that I’d risk imperiling my own self-development if I were to accept a permanent position.) If you want to learn more about what I’m about, and how I see my ideal roles in the basic income community going forth, read the “cover letter” of sorts that is my Patreon homepage (updated November 2017).

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