by Anthony Signorelli
In this post, Steve Fuller, author of Humanity 2.0 and the Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology at Warwick University, simply has it all wrong. His alternative to UBI is that information companies should pay for the information they get from consumers instead of getting it for free.
Read his idea here: https://futurism.com/ubi-universal-basic-income-alternative/
This is a great example of the kinds of ossified ideas we can expect as capitalism thrashes to save itself. It is nothing but an attempt to enclose information in digital form and make it susceptible to market forces—the same way early capitalists enclosed the land in Sixteenth Century England. I view this argument as little more than another ideologically based assertion of free market fundamentalism.
Think about it: What would it mean to be paid for information? You mean that by participating on Google, Facebook or Amazon we get paid for that as a replacement for the jobs no one will have? Does he not realize the trap that builds? It means, in the coming jobless world, we would all be FORCED to provide such information and participate in such networks as a way of obtaining our subsistence. There are worse dystopias, for sure, but that notion is horrific—a good bit beyond the horrors capitalism has created in the first place.
But let’s play along for a minute. If digitalization erodes the value of everything and more and more things becomes free, how valuable will that data be anyway? The giant platforms collect the data in order to provide value to advertisers, but advertisers will only pay for that value when they can sell something as a result of the advertising. So even if we all started being paid for our information, pretty soon it won’t be worth anything financially, so the income collapses anyway.
So, the question to Professor Fuller is, what then? When the platforms determine that the information they are paying for isn’t worth much anymore because advertisers are not paying for it, how will people earn the means to subsistence? There should be no doubt this will continue.
From my perspective, universal basic income is not likely to be an ongoing policy. It is a transitional strategy that is used to fill the gap between the loss of ability to earn money and therefore obtain the means of subsistence until prices of nearly everything fall to zero in the new postcapitalist world. This will not happen all in unison, so basic income is a way to keep people alive during the transition.