The communications team spoke with Joe Huston, Chief Financial Officer of GiveDirectly.
Digitization will occur in most of the jobs we know today, but capitalism needs demand. Is that a dilemma?
Joe Huston: There's certainly a tension there. You know, the classic example people bring up is with driverless cars and driverless trucks, that a lot of the truck‑driving jobs that exist all over the world would go away. Then there's a question of how that flows through, too. Okay, are they consuming less as well? It is something we have seen before. You know, in America the vast majority of workers before 1900 were farmers, and today less than 2 percent are. So there is flexibility in the job market that I think exists, but at the very least I think these types of disruptions, while bringing lots of good things in terms of new technologies and new products, can cause pain that's either permanent or temporary.
Joe Huston: I think so. I think there's good opportunities for different types of structures that could help a lot through these types of disruptions. You know, the types of disruptions we're experiencing aren't all that different from what you see with opening up to trade, where some jobs go away and there are sort of new profits or new revenues elsewhere. The key with those types of things is to create a safety net that can ease the sort of pain, either temporary or permanent, that comes from those types of changes.
You favor an unconditional universal basic income. What kind of problems do you think it can solve?
Joe Huston: Well, you know, I think directly we're doing this pilot to test a universal basic income. The reason is that there's a lot of evidence for cash transfers in general. So I think the fact that you can just give somebody money and the evidence suggests that they can spend it well makes a lot of these sort of problems or tensions maybe simpler, that there's poverty existing today all over the world. Sometimes it's extreme or absolute poverty in the developing countries, and a lot of times there's relative poverty within developed countries. And the idea that you can just give cash suggests that there might be a sort of new, simple way of addressing some of those problems by redistributing money from some of the wealthier folks to people who need it.