Could Cryptocurrencies Bring The World a Universal Basic Income?

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basic-incomeCould cryptocurrency bring a basic income to the people of the world, relieving them of their day-to-day quest for survival, and leaving them to ponder more philosophical questions about their existence and reaching new heights of productivity? Some in the cryptocurrency space believe so.

The idea for a universal basic income is not new, as Thomas More proposed it in his 16th century work, Utopia. Just recently, Switzerland voted ‘no’ to a basic income for its citizens, but the controversial idea has grown in popularity.

A group currency is a cryptocurrency that provides its members with a basic income, voting rights over a group fund, if the cryptocurrency calls for one, and as well is transparent and accountable for itself. A very important aspect of a group currency, which makes it different than other cryptocurrencies is that the members are identified.

With identifies known via block chain entries, it is perceivable  to extend the right of a basic income to arbitrary groups while protecting against fraud and preserving fair market valuation for arbitrary tokens.

CryptoCoinsNews sat down with Greg Slepak, co-founder of okTurtles Foundation, and helped to define the term, “group currency.”

Interview with Greg Slepak

What is basic income?

Basic income is the concept that humanity would fare a whole lot better if people had the freedom to think about matters other than the mundanities of basic survival. A basic income works by giving every individual (perhaps based on certain restrictions) an unconditional income sufficient to cover the so-called basics of life, such as food, shelter, clean water, education and so on.

Why is basic income important for group currencies?

A basic income is very important for group currencies.

It is widely acknowledged that we are entering a period of greater automation. Fairly soon millions of taxi drivers, bus drivers, truck drivers, and drivers of virtually all other vehicles will be replaced by self-driving vehicles. And who needs fighter pilots when you’ve got drones?

Touch-screens will replace waitresses, 3D food printers will replace cooks, the Internet and artificial intelligence will replace the need for most teachers, free legal documents and smart contracts will replace the need for most lawyers, IBM’s Watson will replace the need for many doctors, and hopefully thanks to block chains and Group Currency we’ll have little need for accountants.

When people find their jobs being automated away they will find themselves very pre-occupied with figuring out what to do, and how they can afford to do it.

The question is whether that makes any sense. To me, it seems like a very nervous, anxious, and totally pointless existence. If that’s all humanity plans to amount to—a nervous wreck—well then we might as well end ourselves now.

Basic Income says there’s absolutely zero reason for you to worry about paying the rent or  “putting food on the table”. Everyone, including you, would be happier if you spent your time exploring new skills and abilities so that you can help us all move Humanity forward.

The benefits of Basic Income are unequivocal and well known thanks to numerous studies.

A world where all individuals have the time and means to evaluate humanity’s problems and come up with solutions is a world that has Basic Income. It is a more productive world. But most importantly, it is a more just world. It is everyone’s right to be unimpeded in choosing a future they are happy with.

The alternative, anyway, appears to involve perpetuating poverty and stagnation for many people, the result of which will undoubtedly be mass-unrest. You’ll forgive me if I find that a dull and overplayed narrative. “Star Trek”, on the other hand, seems more interesting than “Dawn of the Dead”.

How do voting rights work in a group currency?

Group currencies are encouraged to implement a group fund to which members automatically contribute a percentage of their basic income, but are allowed to opt-out of doing so. Group funds are a way for the group to invest in itself, similar to how taxes work but without the coercive aspect.

Members can then vote on how the group funds are used with their tokens (coins, shares, what-have-you). We recommend that only members who’ve chosen to contribute to the group fund are allowed to vote.

This provides members with a means to signal the importance an issue has to them. Prior calls for “$1 = 1 vote” fail to acknowledge the asymmetry that exists in the creation of fiat currencies and are therefore unfair. Group currencies, however, extend the right to mint currency equally to every member of the group, and therefore make this attractive system of voting possible while preserving fairness.

How is a group currency not a new concept?

Traditional companies authenticate the identities of their employees, they provide them with a living wage, give out shares with voting rights, and are required by law to provide financial transparency and accountability.

It is OK to think of group currencies as establishing more efficient, transparent, borderless, on-the-fly companies.

What does a group currency do that other “Bitcoin 2.0” technologies, such as BitShares and Ethereum, don’t do?

Group currency is simply a definition that other cryptocurrencies can choose to satisfy. You could implement it using a modified version of BitShares, on top of Ethereum, or any number of other ways.

How do members contribute part of their basic income?

To the group fund?

Yes.

It is done automatically by the software (if they choose to not opt-out). The group is responsible for deciding what percentage of each individual’s basic income goes to the group fund, and this value can be changed by the group.

Why is Ucoin a good example of a group currency?

uCoin is the first cryptocurrency to our knowledge to fit the definition of a group currency:

  1. It has a mechanism for identifying members (protecting against the Sybil attack).
  2. It explicitly provides a means for providing a basic income to its members.
  3. It does not have a group fund at the moment, but group funds are optional.
  4. It uses blockchain technology and therefore provides adequate transparency and accountability.

What is your personal experience in the group currency space?

I helped define the term. The concept is extremely new. So far there appear to be only two projects that fit the definition, and at least one of them isn’t yet production ready.

Why do you believe group currencies are so important?

Basic Income is important for reasons stated above.

Cryptocurrencies are important because they have the potential to be superior to all other currencies ever devised, and most importantly they decentralize the world’s monetary systems.

Banks have served their purpose, but now they are simply a cancer on humanity. They must go. Cryptocurrencies are the cure.

Cryptocurrencies that provide a basic income will lead to another renaissance in human history. It is the next logical step for any society that wishes to know the meaning of freedom.

How can people get in touch with you?

If you’d like to help with this project, please get in touch with us.

Group currency is a project of the okTurtles Foundation. You can follow these projects by following @okTurtles and @GroupCurrency. You can follow me here.

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