UBIA 2018

Universal Basic Income and/or Alternatives: 2018 update

UBIA cover

What do we know, in June 2018, about Universal Basic Income and its alternatives (UBIA), that wasn’t known, or was less clear, just a few years ago?

What are the main risks and issues with the concept of UBIA?

How might the ideas of UBIA evolve in the years ahead?

If not a UBI, what alternatives might be considered, to meet the underlying requirements which have led many people to propose a UBI?

What can we learn from the previous and ongoing experiments in Basic Income?

What are the feasible systems (new or increased taxes, or other means) to pay for a UBIA?

What steps can be taken to make UBIA politically feasible?

What is a credible roadmap for going beyond a “basic” income towards enabling attainment of a “universal prosperity” by everyone?

The event: UBIA 2018

A group of speakers will be addressing the above questions in a London Futurists event in Birkbeck College, central London, on Saturday 2nd June.

The schedule for the day will be as follows:

09:30: Doors open
10:00: Chair’s welcome: The questions that deserve the most attention: David Wood

10:15: Opening keynote: Basic Income – Making it happenProf Guy Standing

11:00: AI, Inequality, and Redistribution: Prof Joanna Bryson

11:30: Alternatives to UBI – Exploring the Possibilities: Steve Wells and Helena Calle

12:15: Q&A involving all morning speakers

12:30: Break for lunch (lunch not provided)

14:00: Basic Income as a policy and a perspective: Barb Jacobson

14:30: Implications of Artificial Intelligence on UBIA: Tony Czarnecki

15:00: Approaching the Economic Singularity: Calum Chace

15:30: What have we learned? And what should we do next? David Wood

16:00-16:30: Closing panel involving all speakers

16:30: Event closes. Optional continuation of discussion in nearby pub


Registration for the event is via a page on the London Futurists meetup site: https://www.meetup.com/London-Futurists/events/249491231/.

Tickets to attend cost £15 (early bird tickets at £10 were available until the end of April). The ticket price is designed mainly to cover room hire costs for the event.

Wifi access for this event

Wireless network: BBK-Guest
Username: ubia2018
Password: tu4HvF

(Username and password are case-sensitive.)

Social media hashtag for this event


Post-event informal gathering

The event will be followed by a chance to continue the discussion in a nearby pub – The Meeting Place bar in the Royal National Hotel: 38-51 Bedford Way, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 0DG.

The speakers

Professor Guy Standing


Guy Standing is a Professorial Research Associate at SOAS University of London and a founder member and honorary co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), a non-governmental organisation that promotes a basic income for all.

Books authored by Guy include:

Professor Joanna Bryson

Joanna Bryson

Joanna J. Bryson is a transdisciplinary researcher on the structure and dynamics of human- and animal-like intelligence. Her research covering  topics from artificial intelligence, through autonomy and robot ethics, and on to human cooperation has appeared in venues ranging from a reddit to Science.

Joanna holds degrees in Psychology from Chicago and Edinburgh, and Artificial Intelligence from Edinburgh and MIT. She has additional professional research experience from Princeton, Oxford, Harvard, and LEGO, and technical experience in Chicago’s financial industry, and international management consultancy.

Joanna is presently a Reader (associate professor) at the University of Bath, and an affiliate of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy.

Joanna’s talk at UBIA 2018 is entitled “The political economics of information technology: implications for social stability and wealth redistribution”.

Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, and Helena Calle

Fast Future Team

Rohit Talwar is the founder and CEO of Fast Future Publishing. He advises clients around the world on the forces shaping the landscape, emerging scenarios, and how to experiment towards preferred futures.

Steve Wells is the co-founder and COO of Fast Future. He has a particular interest in helping clients anticipate and respond to the disruptive bursts of technological possibility that are shaping the emerging future.

Rohit and Steve have co-authored and edited three books:

Helena Calle is a foresight researcher at Fast Future. She is an educational neuroscientist and leads Fast Future’s research on the future of education and learning in the age of smart machines.

This talk is entitled “Alternatives to UBI – Exploring the Possibilities”.

The UBI debate has polarised opinions across the economic spectrum. For many politicians, economists, and commentators, it is seen as an unthinkable and unpalatable step. However, something will need to be done, even if only as a temporary measure until we reach a new economic equilibrium in an AI-enabled world.

There are alternative ideas emerging to the notion of UBI, including:

  • “Status quo” options ranging from doing nothing to modifications of current systems
  • Redesigning and simplifying tax and benefits systems to be more dynamic and flexible through the use of AI and blockchain
  • Universal basic services
  • Crowdfunded investment led models and securitisation of future incomes
  • Employer centric strategies such as total employment responsibility and job creation incentives.

There are, evidently, a range of possibilities. This talk will highlight some of the most interesting options, describe how they might work, and outline key arguments for and against them.

Barb Jacobson

Barb profileBarb Jacobson is coordinator of Basic Income UK.

Currently a welfare rights advisor in central London, Barb has been active with feminist, housing and health organising since 1981.

Barb is also the organiser of the Basic Income UK meetup – a collective of independent people promoting unconditional basic income as a progressive social policy for the United Kingdom and beyond.

Barb’s talk at UBIA 2018 is entitled “Not just a pretty idea anymore: Basic Income as a policy and a perspective”.

Tony Czarnecki

Tony Cz reducedTony Czarnecki is Managing Partner of Sustensis, a management consultancy that has specialized for over 20 years in the area of long-term sustainable growth. The objective of Sustensis is to help companies make a gradual transition from a short-term to a long-term business growth.

In recent years, Tony has applied his experience in “long-termism” to find solutions for the crises facing our civilisation and humanity – the subject that has been the focus of London Futurists.

Tony is the author of the book Who Could Save Humanity From Superintelligence?” His talk at UBIA 2018 will look at how work and society may be impacted in the near future by the growth of artificial intelligence.

Calum Chace

Calum Chace Grand CanyonCalum Chace is writes and speaks on the subject of artificial intelligence. His books include:

Previously, Calum had a 30-year career in journalism and business, in which he was a marketer, a strategy consultant and a CEO. He maintains his interest in business by serving as chairman and coach for a selection of growing companies. In 2000 he co-wrote The Internet Startup Bible, a business best-seller published by Random House.

A long time ago, Calum studied philosophy at Oxford University, where he discovered that the science fiction he had been reading since boyhood was actually philosophy in fancy dress.

In his talk at UBIA 2018, Calum will argue that

  1. AI is old, but only started really working in 2012
  2. It’s improving exponentially, and the likely consequence is two singularities this century
  3. Automation (the first singularity) may look like a repeat of previous rounds of automation, but isn’t
  4. Unemployability won’t arrive for a decade or so, but then it probably will
  5. Meaning might be an issue, but the big problem is income
  6. UBI is unaffordable, universal and basic
  7. The Star Trek economy may be the answer
  8. We need a plan before panic strikes.

David Wood

AprilDavid Wood is the Chair of London Futurists and the Executive Director of the political think-tank Transpolitica. He is also principal of the futurist consultancy Delta Wisdom, Secretary of the Board of Humanity+, and a Fellow of the IEET (Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies).

In his professional career, David spent 25 years in the mobile computing and smartphone industry, including co-founding Symbian in 1998. His 2014 book “Smartphones and beyond” sets out lessons from the turbulent history of the smartphone industry for other areas of technology and society.

David’s most recent book is “Transcending Politics: A technoprogressive roadmap to a comprehensively better future”.

In his remarks at UBIA 2018, David will be offering commentary on the key ideas and questions that have emerged during the day, and outlining possible scenarios for what might happen next.