Zuckerberg and basic income, while Silicon Valley watches Ontario

Last week, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg received an honorary degree from Harvard University. At the commencement, he promoted the idea of a basic income guarantee, joining several other tech leaders in advocating for this idea.

Tech leaders can see a world where robots and AI are doing a lot of work currently performed by humans, and so are already considering how those who lose their jobs will be retrained for the new economy that emerges. While some are focused on rearranging deckchairs,they are focused on how this workforce can be retrained and deployed in the new industries that will emerge, and most importantly, what will resonate with them.

Zuckerberg: “Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness. You’re graduating at a time when this is especially important. When our parents graduated, purpose reliably came from your job, your church, your community. But today, technology and automation are eliminating many jobs. Membership in communities is declining. Many people feel disconnected and depressed, and are trying to fill a void.”

Zuckerberg focused on several themes in his speech, but sprinkled throughout was the idea that people need to take risks to find purpose. He acknowledged his own privilege, and the idea that the reason he could take risks was because of his background and parents. However, without that cushion, he wouldn’t have had the freedom to learn new skills and take risks.

To read more, visit PLOS, the Public Library of Science, here.