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Now off to the coolest things I learned this month
Universal Basic Income
I just finished Utopia for Realists, a book about Universal Basic Income. Universal Basic Income is a type of social security that guarantees a certain amount of money to every citizen within a given governed population, without having to pass a test or fulfill a work requirement. Just free money with zero obligations.
The advancements in AI are likely to make human labor increasingly obsolete—first for jobs like truck-driving, but eventually invading most types of work, even those we today imagine that only a person could ever do.
Last week I heard another compelling argument for Universal Basic Income. Joe Rogan had president candidate Andrew Yang on the show (#YangGang2020). If Yang becomes president he plans on introducing a freedom dividend. A free $1000 for every American citizen.
But after quite some research on the topic, I still can’t decide if I like it. Some people call it inevitable but then up until now, the job force didn’t particularly get any smaller. Robots free people from doing other creative work. But what if there simply is not enough work? Won’t people of the future look back and say, “Wait, in the past, if people didn’t work, they couldn’t afford to eat??”
But apart from many compelling arguments for UBI I still feel it misses out on one fundamental point in human life: meaning.
Naval explains it perfectly: “People who are down on their luck are not looking for handouts. It’s not just about money. It’s also about status. It’s about meaning. The moment I start giving money to you, I’ve lowered your status. I’ve made you a second class citizen.”
It’s about meaning. If you hand people free money you take away there most precious asset.
The Modern Struggle
Last month I wrote about technology and society:
“All those new technologies are great but we now more and more see the other side of tech. Smartphone addiction, anxiety through Instagram likes or a product tweak to boost engagement even further.”
Please watch this video excerpt from Joe Rogan and Naval Ravikant about the modern life struggle. I loved it. Some highlights:
Most of modern life, all our diseases were diseases of abundance, not diseases of scarcity. In old times I may have starved. If I got sugar it was a wonderful thing, you should’ve ate all the sugar you could get your hands on.
Now it’s all diseases of abundance, we are overexposed to everything.
The human brain is not designed to absorb all the worlds breaking news 24/7 injected straight into your skull.’‘
If you pay intention to that stuff. It will eventually drive you insane.
We have the smartest minds in the world (Facebook, Instagram, Google) working on ways to addict you, and as an individual, you stand alone.
The modern struggle is how to learn to resist these things in the first place. Drawing your own boundaries. Because if you don’t, they will get you.”
Happy happy, sad sad
What apps make people happy? Turns out it’s meditation apps and Google Calendar. And unhappy? Now suprises there either: dating, games or social media.
Small Homes, Grand Living
I’m fascinated by the concept of small living. As more people across the globe move into cities, living space becomes a precious commodity. We need to find new ways of creating a home that is just as comfortable and aesthetically pleasing but on only a fraction of the land. It’s funny, in the past your status in society was measured by how much space you had. Many in older generations dreamed of upsizing to sprawling houses in suburban areas, but millennials are increasingly doing the opposite, seeking affordability, a more eco-friendly lifestyle, in the center of the city. All at the cost of square meters.
The book Small Homes, Grand Living shows the creative usage of space in continually expanding urban areas. The proposed solutions make living small cool. With smart storage space, multi-functional rooms and only living with the absolute necessary you create pleasant living spaces.
If you can live in a smaller home, then your rental costs will also be lower. Renting or owning a smaller space means you need to earn less money, which results in the possibility of working fewer hours and having more time available.
In a similar fashion. At the Dutch Design Week, I came across this rotating handlebar for your (urban) bike. The twisting stem enables the bike to occupy less space in the hallway of your house or when parked outside. Cool functional design!
How humans are wired
Fun stat that shows the marathon finishing time in the last few years. Finishing times spike around notable goals, such as 3:00, 3:30, and 4:00. We as humans are driven by goals, so we kick up our effort when the next one is insight.
Reminds me of a quote of Abraham Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax”. Constraints set the basis for your outcome. So maybe we need to set higher goals, shorter time periods and because we will adjust to whatever we are focusing on.
This next graph shows the distribution of high school exit exam scores in Poland. Guess the minimum passing score ;-)
That’s it for this month. If you’re enjoying this short email, I’d love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up.
Until next time!