To UBI or not to UBI?

Spoiler alert: to UBI!
The fact is: sooner or later setting up some sort of Universal Basic Income (i.e.: free money for everyone, working or not) will become cheaper than maintaining social order.

This may happen within just over a decade or take a lot longer, but as the technology advances, it will make automation ubiquitous and lower the costs of goods further and further.

If this sounds like just a crazy socialist-ish utopia without fundament, let’s go through the numbers!

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The Big Good Old Brother

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

Benjamin Franklin, 1755

I was a supporter of this view until about 10 years ago. The world changed a lot since 1755, and also since I embraced this view. At one point I had to reconsider what I believe in.
Today, albeit with bitter awareness of the risks this imports, I think there’s no real alternative to accepting technocontrol in our lives. Although not in the current form.

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The Bee and the Beehive

That which is not good for the bee-hive cannot be good for the bees.

Marcus Aurelius, in –Meditations

The guy lived -and ruled large part of Europe- nearly 2000 years ago.

What is interesting is that this quote was used in multiple occasions by the mind behind one of the European oldest populist parties -Gianroberto Casaleggio of the italian 5 stars movement- and that it symbolizes in more than a way the founding principle of many other populist values.

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Post-Individualism

I wrote recently about how individualism has been a cornerstone of western civilization for over 2 centuries now, and how this may be coming under a little bit of fire.

I do not believe individualism is entirely coming to an end, but I do believe that it is about to be downsized as a value in our society. This is often the case with cultural waves, and subsequent over-reacting counterwaves.

But what would a post-individualistic world be like? Individualism sprung from romanticism together with the exaltation of passion, the seed of anti-conformism, and many aspects of our culture that are deeply interconnected, so it’s not a case of shutting down a single value, but rather the interconnected network of values that we call our current culture.

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Neonomadism

I get to read from time to time about these hippy digital nomads that seem to be living the best life from some tropical beach. Rarely you get to bring the topic to a conversation and not see the distinctive look of jealousy appearing on someone’s face: tropical life, away from everyday traffic, commute and stress, flexible working hours… what’s not to like?

On the other hand, while this may sound like a dream-life, there are still many good reasons that keep us attached to our “homes”: not just our actual home, but our belongings, the nearby places we cherish like the local church, library or mall, our loved ones, and of course our jobs.

When you think of it this way, it is amusing what we call digital nomads: they only became such by making their home a digital place… it is actually their digital sedentism that enables them to be physical nomads!

The fact is: we are all digital migrants in the process of getting there… they are just a little ahead of the curve!

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Individualism

Romanticism was a cultural movement that gained momentum towards the end of the 1700s in Europe, and is still far from being a concept of the past: whenever you describe a “romantic” sunset or movie, you are the living proof that Romanticism and its focus on emotions has influenced our culture to this very day.
Another strong focus of romanticism was individualism: starting from Beethoven and continuing to me and you, individualism kept growing stronger and gained the status of cornerstone of western culture.

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Likeocracy

What is the social cost of a Like?

I wrote about Social Media before, but this post is about traditional online newspapers and how they are following the same footprints, using new techniques such as click baits and trying to “go viral”  in a bid to gain visibility or simply survive.

One meaningful example form the Guardian: Subsidised tenants are excluded from pool and gym in London block .

A bit of background here: in UK, at least 30% of the newly built apartments should by law be under the “social housing” scheme, with lower rent prices subsidised by tax payers.

Whatever is your take on the matter, this article will likely leave you angered at either:

a) the people who wants to use the subsidised pool and gym by bundling it with the social housing scheme and exploiting the system, or

b) the people who are supporting segregation and even a form of social cleansing, as proposed in the article.

This is the divide et impera at work again! Not because someone is conspiring in that direction: our Digital Media are simply tuned to rank something better if it causes a reaction, likes, shares, engagement!

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Praise of the grasshopper

What is globalization? A simple agnostic definition on wiktionary suggests very briefly that it is

The process of becoming a more interconnected world.

Following that, a second, more political definition is provided in which globalisation becomes a byproduct of capitalism.

If this was true (we’ll get there), it would be easy for a westerner to nihilistically dismiss our culture and values as a mere race to obtain more money and goods, and just as nihilistically dismiss the globalisation and the expansion of capitalism as something inherently negative, but is it that simple?

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