If you’re wondering if this blog post seems a little off-topic, I initially did too. Until I realised that Universal Basic Income (UBI) is, at its very core, a form of altruism, and so fits quite perfectly into my little ecosystem of stories.
Let me start from the beginning and share how I came to know and even understand the concept of UBI.
It starts with cryptocurrency. Now, don’t be alarmed. I’m not too well-versed in the world of crypto, but my curiosity led me to try and understand the very basics of this concept. Not from a how-to-get-rich-quick standpoint, but rather from a how-do-I-keep-a-pulse-on-a-rapidly-evolving-world standpoint.
I want to start by sharing something that I have been saying to myself quite often as of late. The world will never be the same as it was yesterday. As much as I love the past and the bittersweet sweet emotions of nostalgia for a million fleeting moments, the truth is we don’t go backwards. Nothing is as it was.
When I was younger, I didn’t really see the world change. I was so caught in the present, as children are and should be, that I ceased to notice the ever-changing world around me. It wasn’t until I reached my mid-30s that I started to reflect on the comparison between now and then. Through that reflection, I realised quite a lot has in fact changed. I have lived through a time where tapes turned into CDs, and CDs turned into MP3s, and MP3s turned into Spotify. I have lived through a time where videos turned into DVDs, and DVDs turned into Blue-rays, and Blue-rays turned into Pirate Bay, and Pirate Bay turned into Netflix. And that all just seemed to happen while I went about my daily life without much notice at all.
So as you can see, change is rather inevitable. The way society is structured, the way we do things is – and should always be – subject to change. This is why I decided to dedicate some time and brainpower to learn about the blockchain and cryptocurrency, how it fits into our world today and how it will be a part of our future. Learning about cryptocurrency then led me to learn about NFTs (Non-fungible tokens), which then led me to learn about Universal Basic Income (UBI).
I won’t go into too much detail about cryptocurrency in this blog post because quite frankly I am not too knowledgeable in it. I’ll just share my referral link to CoinSpot, an Australia-based cryptocurrency exchange, for anyone wanting to get started. (The U.S. version is CoinBase). Instead, I’ll start talking about why and how I invested in UBI and share some resources for you to learn more about this concept.
What is Universal Basic Income?
A universal basic income is a regular payment that is given to everyone in society to create a minimum income floor. This concept is not new. In fact, the concept of basic income can be found throughout history, from the philosopher Thomas Moore to the civil rights activist Martin Luther King, to the economist Milton Friedman, and the futurist Ray Kurzweil. Many have imagined a world where universal basic income is a reality.
Even arguments against the concept of a basic income have been contradicted. According to studies, it would take just $175billion U.S. dollars, just one-quarter of the U.S. military spend, to lift all Americans out of poverty. So the argument that it simply cannot be afforded, is invalid. Studies have also found that universal basic income results in more productivity, improved mental health and increased intelligence. So the argument that universal basic income causes laziness and nonconstructive societies is also invalid.
There is enough money in this world to bring people out of poverty, and perhaps Universal Basic Income is the answer.
Universal Basic Income & Web 3.0.
If there was ever a time where Universal Basic Income had a clearer path to implementation it would be now. Why? Because of Web 3.0.
Web 3.0, also known as the “Semantic web”, is a version of the Internet that is decentralised and based on public blockchains. Meaning more openness, transparency and traceability. The decentralization; that is, transparent methods of transferring wealth that does not involve banks and institutions, brought upon by the constructs of Web 3.0 are offering an opportunity for universal basic income to become a reality and it’s already happening thanks to Democracy Earth and Proof Of Humanity.
Watch the introduction on the video below:
I want to take a pause here in case you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with this information. I want to go back to what I mentioned earlier about change and its inevitability. The current way our society works is because we humans thought it into existence. We humans have the power to think anything into existence. Ideas literally change the world. Yet for so long our society has existed to benefit only a few, the kings, the billionaires, the 1%. It doesn’t have to be this way. Ideas can change this, ideas like blockchain can change this. It’s already happening. So I invite you to read on with an open mind…
Gaining a self-sovereign identity with Proof of Humanity
What Democracy Earth and Proof of Humanity provides is a self-sovereign identity. That is, an identity that does not relate to the place you were born or the country you are a citizen of. It is another form of identity, one that lives on the blockchain and, just like a passport does, guarantees the authenticity of your data, the authenticity of you.
So why is having a self-sovereign identity important? Firstly, why not? Why not have a form of identity that allows you to control your own data? Why not have an identity which is not governed by borders and authority? Secondly, self-sovereign identity affords those who may not have access to documented identity the chance to create one. Did you know almost 1 billion people on this planet have no legal identity? (Source: World Bank 2020). This means no passport, no legal birth certificate, nothing to say they even exist. Imagine, almost 1 in every 8 people on this planet are identity-less. What this new concept of self-sovereign identity offers is the chance for these people to claim their space in this world.
Investing in Universal Basic Income (UBI)
If you are interested in this concept and investing in a future where this is possible, Proof of Humanity is making it happen. Below I will go into more detail about how I invested in it.
Note: I decided to invest in this concept purely because I feel aligned with their values. The information I am providing is for educational and informational purposes only. This is not financial advice.
What you’ll initially need to get started:
- A basic understanding of Blockchain and Ethereum. Watch this video to learn more.
- A cryptocurrency exchange account. I use Australia-based CoinSpot. The U.S. version is CoinBase.
- An Ethereum / Web3 wallet. Proof of Humanity recommends Metamask, WalletConnect or Authereum.
- A deposit of 0.157 Ethereum (Approx. 650USD), which will be refunded back to you in Ethereum once your application has been approved. It’s worth noting that you can also crowdfund this deposit if you don’t have access to this money. I have not used this option but you can find more information about crowdfunding on Telegram (mobile only).
- Some spare Ethereum to cover the gas fee for the transfer. Check gas prices here.
UBI on the Blockchain, dream or reality?
These words are entirely my opinion, albeit subjective, based on the little I know about UBI and what I have learned so far. I often reflect on the Blockchain and its accessibility for the population, specifically those with little access to technology e.g. remote communities, and those with lesser technological knowledge e.g. the elderly, people like my parents. It has taken me, a well educated millennial, a lot of time and mental energy to begin to even fathom a new way of currency exchange, to even begin to understand what a decentralised financial system could look like. And while I am starting to see how this utopia could benefit many people, in comparison to the hierarchical structures in which we operate today, I am conscious that not all the population see the world through the lens I see the world, or through the lens of the less than 1% of the population who are motivated to investigate such a change.
So while, in this article, I have highlighted some of the advantages this utopia could bring to our world, I am conscious that we may be far from making this a reality for everyone. What I do know is that our world could do with more equality, and at least the concept of UBI is one step closer to creating a new narrative for what a more equal world could look like.