Looking Forward and Looking Around

Jun 06, 2019

The ideas laid out in this recent series of blogs are an early attempt to grapple with the massive disruptions on the horizon of our AI future. We looked at technical fixes that seek to smooth the transition to an AI economy: retraining workers, reducing work hours, and redistributing income through a universal basic income (UBI).

While all of these technical fixes have a role to play, I believe something more is needed. I envision the private sector creatively fostering human-machine symbiosis, a new wave of impact investing funding human-centric service jobs, and the government filling the gaps with a social investment stipend that rewards care, service, and education. Taken together, these would constitute a realignment of our economy and a rewriting of our social contract to reward socially productive activities.

By Dr. Kai-Fu Lee

Open Questions and Serious Complications

Jun 04, 2019

In my previous post, I suggested we think of establishing a social investment stipend rather than a universal basic income.

Implementing a social investment stipend will of course raise new questions and frictions: How much should the stipend be? Should we reward people differently based on their performance in these activities? How do we know if someone is dutifully performing their “care” work? And what kinds of activities should count as “service” work? These are admittedly difficult questions, ones for which there are no clear-cut answers. Administering a social investment stipend in countries with hundreds of millions of people will involve lots of paperwork and legwork by governments and the organizations that create these new roles.

By Dr. Kai-Fu Lee

The Social Investment Stipend: Care, Service, and Education

May 30, 2019

Just as those volunteers I mentioned in my previous post devoted their time and energy toward making their communities a little bit more loving, I believe it is incumbent on us to use the economic abundance of the AI age to foster these same values and encourage this same kind of activity.

To do this, I propose that we explore the creation not of a universal basic income (UBI) but of what I call a social investment stipend. The stipend would be a decent government salary given to those who invest their time and energy in those activities that promote a kind, compassionate, and creative society. These would include three broad categories: care work, community service, and education.

By Dr. Kai-Fu Lee

The Chauffeur CEO

May 28, 2019

The morning sun had not yet crept over the horizon as I walked across the massive grounds of Fo Guang Shan, a monastery in Taiwan, to see Master Hsing Yun. It was the morning on which I’d been given a chance to have breakfast with the head monk, and I was hustling my way up a hill when a golf cart pulled up alongside me.

“Good morning,” the man behind the wheel said to me. “Can I offer you a ride?”

Not wanting to keep Master Hsing Yun waiting, I accepted and climbed into the cart, telling the driver where I was headed. He was dressed in jeans and a simple long-sleeved shirt with an orange vest over it. He looked to be in his fifties like me, with streaks of grey in his hair. We rode in silence for a few minutes, absorbing the stillness of the landscape and the gentle breeze of cool morning air. As we rounded the hillside, I filled the silence with a bit of small talk.

By Dr. Kai-Fu Lee