United States

Have you thought of a world where nobody would have to be concerned about paying for their basic needs? The unconditional basic income (UBI) project, which will be submitted to a vote in Switzerland next month, addresses this controversial issue that has been the “talk of the country” for quite some time. And last week, hundreds of academics, executives, trade union representatives and the general public gathered in Zurich to discuss the UBI in connection to new technologies, disruptive work and a shrinking middle class, both in the developed and developing worlds. While attending for Horyou blog, I was very interested to see how the basic income discussion would fit with the concept of Spotlight, the global social currency created by Horyou. And I discovered that there are many people studying and working hard for more income equality all over the world.

Yanis Varoufakis - Photo by Jonas Rohloff/Neopolis Network
Yanis Varoufakis – Photo by Jonas Rohloff/Neopolis Network

Named “The Future of Work”, the conference discussed alternatives for the current crisis of capitalism, marked by income stagnation, deflationary process and decreasing interest rates on a global scale. Renowned specialists such as Yanis Varoufakis, former Greek Minister of Finance, and Robert Reich, former US Labour Secretary under Bill Clinton, were among the speakers.

First to speak was Robert Johnson, executive director of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, for whom the root cause of our society’s challenges is a mix of political pessimism, technological disruption and a political system whereby economic growth is powered and consumed by the wealthy few. “We are living under fear of social unrest caused by the increasingly precarious conditions for workers”, he said.

Robert Johnson - Photo by Jonas Rohloff/Neopolis Network
Robert Johnson – Photo by Jonas Rohloff/Neopolis Network

One of the signs of this precarity is the rise of sharing economy platforms like Uber and their impact on working conditions. A panel called Disruptive Work presented cases of companies like Uber and Zipcar, whereby members are proposed flexible conditions while not enjoying the same rights and income they would be in a “traditional” industry. “My father had one job in his life, I had six in mine, and my daughter will have six simultaneously”, said Robin Chase, co-founder of the car sharing platform Zipcar. She is optimistic about the new working model – according to her, 85% of people are not happy with their current jobs and the so-called “peer inc” companies can tap exponential learning and lead people to interesting jobs instead of automated ones.

A system where a basic income would guarantee people’s survival would give everyone freedom to chose a meaningful job without having to work hard to make ends meet. For the critics of the project, it would lead to a situation where many people would be discouraged to work at all. Some experiments made in Africa, India and Germany, however, show the opposite. Michael Faye, co-founder of the non profit GiveDirectly, shared his experience with cash transfers in extreme poor villages in Africa. “The only social group who stopped working were children”, he said. “There is no evidence that they become lazy and spend the money on drugs and alcohol. In fact, people go back to school and start working for the community”. The same phenomenon happened with the Mein Grundeinkommen experiment in Germany – from the 36 people who benefitted from a cash transfer which guaranteed their survival, only one spent it on luxuries. “Most people changed jobs and started spending more time with their children”, says the executive Amira Yahia.

Robert Reich, who worked as a US Labour Secretary and now is a professor at UCLA, is one of the biggest supporters of the project. “Even the Silicon Valley is starting to be interested in the basic income project. Companies are concerned about people not being able to afford the products that they manufacture, as the middle class is shrinking”, he said. In his opinion, a basic income would create an aggregated demand that would address such issues as inequality and social insecurity. “The central question is not economic but ethical. Who is the government working for, and who has the influence and power? How do we use the abundance and distribute the gains produced by society?”, he asked. Reich is not convinced about the effectiveness of a basic income, but believes it is “inevitable” to create a system which promotes the circulation of income.

Robert Reich - Photo by Jonas Rohloff/Neopolis Network
Robert Reich – Photo by Jonas Rohloff/Neopolis Network

The closing speech was Yanis Varoufakis’. Famous for his controversial statements about capitalism and the financial system, he stated that the social democracy tradition is dead and that capitalism has been agonizing since 2008. “The new system transfers the value of production towards the financial sector that remains insolvent. This created a deflationary process and today, half the global economy is on negative interest rates”. Varoufakis went on to explain that the working class can no longer ensure itself through social insurance, as youngsters find it very difficult to find full time jobs, and wages are stagnating. “This is aggravated by the fact that low wage routine jobs would be rapidly replaced by artificial intelligence”.

The basic income, according to him, is a necessary tool to stabilize society. “The struggle is ethical as we need to overturn the dominant paradigm of capitalism. The basic income is a dividend for the collective production market, it is about giving money to the underserving, to the rich, the surfers, people who are collectively producing wealth”, he advocated. At the same time, a redistribution of wealth would benefit central banks as well by working as a counter deflationary tool, and promote the creation of value at work, as people would have the right to turn down a job they don’t feel connected to. “We need to create a system which aggregates capital and creates a stream for everyone. It’s a trust fund for all our children”, he concluded.

Written by Vivian Soares

Special thanks to Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute and Neopolis Network for all the support and pictures.

Coco Bertin Mowa de CJARC reçoit les visiteurs.

Chaque jour, nous découvrons les magnifiques actions de nos Membres, Personnalités et Organisations sur la plateforme Horyou. Ils sont toujours prêts à Agir ! Cette semaine, nous mettons en lumière le travail et les actions de remarquables organisations au Cameroun, aux Etats-Unis, au Brésil ainsi qu’en France et au Maroc. Petit tour du monde de toutes ces actions positives!

Organisation: CJARC (Club des Jeunes Aveugles Réhabilités du Cameroun)
Lieu: Cameroun

Le CJARC reçoit de la visite!

Le Club des Jeunes Aveugles Réhabilités du Cameroun, ONG créée en 1988 par des jeunes non-voyants, promeut l’insertion socio-professionnelle des personnes handicapées et des personnes handicapées visuelles en particulier. L’organisation fait un travail remarquable et a reçu la visite de la ministre des affaires sociales du Cameroun le 16 mars 2016 dans leurs locaux pour les féliciter pour leur travail. L’occasion pour elle de découvrir un peu plus le travail de l’organisation et rencontrer les différents membres de celle-ci ainsi que ses bénéficiaires. Découvrez cette action ici.

Ecrit par Laurie Martin

Organization: NegusWorld Location: United States

NegusWorld Wide Party

NegusWorld connects and engages cultures around the globe through worldwide celebrations and youth collaboration in educational and artistic projects. Last year, the Negus World organization raised USD 16’412 thanks to the NegusWorld Wide Party for the children in Brazil. Many countries participated. The Love Fútbol team has started building the Garanhuns soccer field in March 2016. It should be completed by summer. The next edition will take place in June 2016 with this time the objective of helping children in Tanzania. Congratulations for these great projects ! Discover this action post here.

Written by Laurie Martin

Organização: Ser Sustentável Localização: Brasil

Dia Internacional da Mulher – Homenagem ás mulheres em situações de ruas em São Paulo

A Ser Sustentável é uma organização sem fins lucrativos situada no Brasil, Ela tem como missão utilizar os pilares da sustentabilidade para promover a reintegração social de cidadãos em situação de vulnerabilidade, unindo todos os atores sociais em prol de uma sociedade mais justa. Sua visão é ser referência global em projetos socioambientais para inspirar e multiplicar ações de cidadania e meio ambiente. No dia Internacional da Mulher, a criadora da organização Silvânia Grande foi às ruas para homenagear mulheres em situação de rua em São Paulo. Ela distribui 700 rosas na Cracolândia (lugar onde vivem muitos dependentes químicos). Nesse gesto, a gente consegue ver o Amor e a Esperança. Saiba mais aqui.

Por Edriana Oliveira Major

Momes du monde
Organisation : Mômes du Monde Lieu : France

Believe au Cameroun

Mômes du Monde, association fondée en 2008, a pour objectif d’apporter un moment de partage et d’évasion entre autre aux enfants en difficultés sociales en mettant en place, des animations, des activités artistiques et sportives. L’association a dernièrement mis en place le projet Believe, atelier artistique de composition libre par le collage et la peinture. L’objectif est de proposer aux enfants de remplir par les moyens qu’ils souhaitent un gabarit de colombe géante, symbole de paix. Après la mise en place de l’action au Maroc, Grèce, Philippines, Vietnam et en France, des colombes sont arrivées tout droit du Cameroun, réalisées par les enfants de l’école maternelle de St Paul de Loum-cie dans le Moungo. Projet réalisé en collaboration avec l’association Les Enfants de Metchachri. Découvrez cette action ici.

Ecrit par Laurie Martin

AL Aahd
Organisation : Association Al Aahd Jadid Handicap Lieu: Maroc

Soirée en l’honneur de la femme handicapée

L’association Al Aahd Jadid Handicap, créée en 2000 au Maroc, a pour objectif l’intégration des personnes handicapées dans la société. Elle s’occupe aussi d’encadrer ces personnes et de les soutenir dans des domaines très variés. Pour célébrer la journée internationale de la femme, le 8 mars dernier, ainsi que la journée nationale des personnes handicapées (le 9 décembre passé), l’association Al Aahd Jadid a décidé d’organiser ce samedi 19 mars une soirée mettant à l’honneur la femme handicapée. Cette célébration est une première à Marrakech. Nous leur souhaitons plein de succès pour ce bel événement. Pour en savoir plus sur cette action, cliquez ici.

Ecrit par Laurie Martin


Horyou had the chance to interview Eleanor Watson, engineer, entrepreneur, futurist and believer in the positive future of humanity. Eleanor Watson grew up in Northern Ireland as an only child of an engineer, a childhood in which books taught her at an early age the challenges in this world and the hope in defeating them. Today, her continued interest in the psychology of technology has led her to study, speak about and encourage the emergence of social trends. Mrs. Watson is within the Artificial Intelligence & Robotics Faculty at the Singularity University, a benefit corporation that helps individuals, businesses institutions, investors, NGOs and governments with educational programs, training them to understand new technologies and the positive impact potential of these technologies. In this interview she tells us about her work and experiences at the University. — by Amma Aburam

Have you always wanted to be an advocate for Technology in Social Good and Impact? How did it come about?

I grew up as the only child of an engineer in a house filled with serious science fiction. From an early age I also had a cherished copy of the Gaia Atlas of Planet Management, a book that details the whole world’s resources, and the greatest problems of our world society.

I also learned that lasting humanitarian successes, such as the eradication of smallpox, seemed like science fiction not so long ago.

I believe that the combination of these two influences seeded an understanding of the immense challenges facing so many in this world, along with a sense of optimism in being able to continue our shaping our world for the better.

The University impacts Education, Innovation and Community, how are these three elements intertwined to tackle world challenges?

SU teaches new models for understanding the world, based upon principles of harnessing the power of exponential technology curves, and a cultivated mentality of abundance (as opposed to one of scarcity).

This leads to a whole new way of looking at the world, and people sometimes switch the whole track of their lives once they acquire these new tools for understanding the complex systems in which we live.

Such methods also create a clarity about predicting the future of technology and society, which leads SU alumni to found new ventures that are ahead of the curve that the solutions created may have no precedent, or no existing market for them. Many of these solutions are able to generate massive social impact, as well as building powerful engines of wealth creation, enriching society at least as much as shareholders.

Furthermore, we lead an extended community of alumni that is able to continue to collaborate all through their careers. I continue to work on a range of socially beneficial projects with colleagues that I first met during SU, creating a lasting legacy of creative benefit.

What are your best/favorite success stories of local impact with technology through the strategies at Singularity University?

SU students and alumni have founded a wide range of inspiring ventures, with missions as daring as detecting cancer at the earliest stages, mining old electronics to recover valuable materials (mined originally often in places of intense conflict), or even drones that can replenish entire forests by firing seedlings like a machine gun.

What in your opinion are the three building blocks in reaching solutions for local community issues?

The most important success factor is having in-depth understanding of the situation within the local areas that the issue has the strongest particular impact.

Very often, NGOs and public officials attempt to intervene in a situation with the best of intentions, spend a lot of time and money, and still not fix the problem, because they did not spend enough time ‘on the ground’ asking local people about the real issues, and how they themselves suggest fixing them.

Worse still, sometimes even seemingly beneficial actions can lead to unintended consequences for other parties, or for the wider environment. No lasting and useful social solution can ever arise without an intense learning and deep understanding of the core problems, as experienced by people affected by them.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 to 10 years? Any ideals?

I’m not sure if there is a universal ‘meaning of life’, but we can certainly choose one for ourselves. I have chosen one overriding personal goal in my life, and that is to seed as much good in the world as I reasonably can. I even keep a mental score counter of my hit rate.

There are many possible means of amplifying the good that one does:

One may launch new ventures, creating a self-sustaining engine of happiness for the world. One may educate and inspire others where knowledge is most crucial, and most lacking. One may discover complementary qualities between people that can cause them to flourish once connected. Sometimes one may simply pinpoint better places to allocate resources using reason and evidence, the core idea behind the Effective Altruism movement.

What does our mantra Dream, Act and Inspire mean to you personally and professionally?

An inquisitive spirit to dream of a better future, a valiant will to take action towards those ends, and the inspiration to continue against daunting odds, because humanity needs you to succeed. These are the ingredients of all world-changing efforts!

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