Opinion: Universal basic income is a solution in search of a problem

The fear of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) has spurred countless conversations about the future of work and how we humans will fare in an age of robots.

Many fear technological unemployment as others preemptively denounce future income inequality. To confront the “dismal” future of work, many in the policy world, the tech world, and even aspiring presidential candidates like Andrew Yang, tout the promise of a universal basic income (UBI) to overcome these uncertainties.

But whether policymakers should even consider ideas for a UBI, given recent studies that suggest an expanded labor market from future AI and relatively strong current economic conditions, is still an open question.

Rather than focusing on familiar concerns about UBI — the risk of dependency, the price tag, how to implement it or how work often provides meaning in one’s life — it is worthwhile to recognize that the case for such a broad and radical reform of our economic system is actually rather weak.

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