It’s not a new concept. In the late 1790s, American statesman Thomas Paine called for a universal payment of £15 per year to all his countrymen in exchange for the right to hold private property.
First suggested over 200 years ago, the idea of universal basic income never quite went away, and in many circles, it’s actually picking up steam.
Progressive Finland is officially the first sovereign nation to put it to the test. Two-thousand Finnish citizens, who were selected randomly from those currently receiving unemployment benefits or an income subsidy, will now receive €560 ($587) a month. Everyone gets the same amount of money whether they work or not. The pilot will run for the next two years, and may eventually expand to include all Finns.
Why the renewed interest in universal basic income now? Stagnant wages since the early aughts is one major reason, as is the declining share of total income earned by workers compared with companies.
In the private sector, though, the attraction is based on the fear that in the near future, many human jobs will be automated or otherwise taken over by machine intelligence. This notion has been gaining traction since 2013, when a paper by Oxford economists Frey and Osborne predicted that nearly 50 percent of modern jobs were at risk of computerization.
For more where this came from, check out my new column on Mashable.