Opinion Technology
August 08, 2023

OpenAI Sponsors Major Study on Unconditional Basic Income: Insights from Sam Altman’s Thesis

OpenAI has sponsored what is being considered the largest-ever study on unconditional basic income (UBI). The study’s results are eagerly anticipated for early 2024, as reported by Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, on Lex Fridman’s podcast.

OpenAI Sponsors Major Study on Unconditional Basic Income: Insights from Sam Altman's Thesis
Credit: Metaverse Post / Sam Altman
Related: 10 Important Business & Life Lessons from OpenAI CEO Sam Altman

Sam Altman has been contemplating the implications of AI on socio-economic changes for quite some time. His interest in the subject dates back to a blog post he penned in March 2021, titled “Moore’s Law for Everything,” available at this link. In his thesis summary, Altman underscores several vital points that deserve attention.

  1. Technological Advancements and Wealth Creation: Altman emphasizes that the development of powerful AI will likely lead to a reduction in the cost of labor for various goods and services. This decrease in cost is predicted to result in remarkable wealth creation.
  2. Welfare through Cost Reduction: By reducing the cost of essential goods, ranging from food to entertainment, technology can significantly enhance societal welfare. Altman likens this phenomenon to Moore’s law, where computer chips have historically doubled in power every two years without increasing in price.
  3. A New Economic Model for Inclusiveness: He stresses the importance of growth and inclusiveness in a stable economic system. Inclusiveness ensures that every individual has a fair chance to obtain essential resources, leading to a more just society and potentially fostering further economic growth.
  4. The Inefficiency of Progressive Taxation: Altman acknowledges the traditional economic approach to solving inequality, progressive taxation, has not been entirely effective and may become even less relevant in the future.
  5. Taxing Capital, Not Labor: Altman proposes a shift in focus from taxing labor to taxing capital. By doing so, the taxation system can directly distribute property and wealth among citizens. This shift would enable every individual to directly benefit from capitalism, in turn improving the system itself.

Sam Altman’s thesis is rooted in the understanding of the significant socio-economic changes that AI can bring. The insights drawn from his writings are well-grounded and focus on the practical implications of technological development on wealth distribution and societal welfare.

In connection with this thesis, the ongoing study on UBI sponsored by OpenAI takes on additional significance. The research, expected to be unveiled in 2024, will undoubtedly contribute to the discourse on how unconditional basic income could act as a mechanism to achieve some of the societal improvements outlined by Altman.

The study and Altman’s reflections provide a valuable perspective on the future of economic systems in the age of AI. Rather than speculative or utopian views, these insights are built on concrete evidence and practical considerations, offering a sober examination of the potential benefits and challenges that lie ahead.

Related: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in Talks for $100M Worldcoin Funding

Sam Altman’s Vision for Wealth Distribution: The American Equity Fund Proposal

Also, Sam Altman has presented a unique perspective on the future of wealth distribution that emphasizes the roles of AI-driven companies and land as dominant sources of wealth. Through his writings, Altman outlines a vision for a fairer system, known as the American Equity Fund, that takes into consideration the unstoppable changes driven by technological advancement. The details of this system are as follows:

  1. Dominant Sources of Wealth – AI and Land: Altman identifies two main sources of wealth in the near future. The first is companies, particularly those utilizing AI, and the second is land, which is naturally limited in supply.
  2. The American Equity Fund: Altman proposes the creation of the American Equity Fund, which would be funded by taxing companies with valuations above a certain threshold at 2.5% of their market value annually. Additionally, 2.5% of the value of all private land would be taxed, with payments made in dollars.
  3. Annual Payments to Citizens: Under this system, all citizens over the age of 18 would receive annual payments in both dollars and company shares. This would enable individuals to use the funds as they see fit, whether for education, healthcare, housing, or entrepreneurial endeavors.
  4. Regulatory Measures: To prevent loopholes such as offshore companies or keeping companies in private ownership, Altman suggests the implementation of easily formalized regulations.
  5. A Focus on Making the World “More Good”: Altman differentiates between optimizing to increase the abstract pie (more good) and dividing the pie as fairly as possible (less bad). He believes society thrives more when focused on the former approach, aiming to create collective good rather than merely preventing harm.
  6. Prohibition on Pledging Future Income: The system Altman outlines would not allow individuals to borrow, sell, or pledge their future income from the fund. This is designed to ensure a fair distribution of wealth over time.
  7. A Vision of a Fairer Future: Altman’s proposal emphasizes the need for technology to create more wealth and a set of rules and systems to distribute it justly. By acknowledging and embracing the changes that technology will inevitably bring, society can work towards a more equitable and prosperous future.

This proposal, as articulated by Sam Altman, represents a tangible vision for a more equitable distribution of wealth. It’s rooted in concrete principles and offers a pathway to a future where resources are allocated more fairly.

Altman’s ideas about the American Equity Fund offer an alternative perspective on economic development in an era of technological advancement. By focusing on AI and land as key components of wealth, and through a structured mechanism for distributing this wealth, Altman suggests a practical means of aligning societal growth with individual prosperity.

The American Equity Fund is an example of innovative thinking about how to navigate the complex interplay between technology, economy, and society. As with any proposal, it would require thorough examination, analysis, and potential modification before implementation.

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About The Author

Damir is the team leader, product manager, and editor at Metaverse Post, covering topics such as AI/ML, AGI, LLMs, Metaverse, and Web3-related fields. His articles attract a massive audience of over a million users every month. He appears to be an expert with 10 years of experience in SEO and digital marketing. Damir has been mentioned in Mashable, Wired, Cointelegraph, The New Yorker, Inside.com, Entrepreneur, BeInCrypto, and other publications. He travels between the UAE, Turkey, Russia, and the CIS as a digital nomad. Damir earned a bachelor's degree in physics, which he believes has given him the critical thinking skills needed to be successful in the ever-changing landscape of the internet.Ā 

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Damir Yalalov
Damir Yalalov

Damir is the team leader, product manager, and editor at Metaverse Post, covering topics such as AI/ML, AGI, LLMs, Metaverse, and Web3-related fields. His articles attract a massive audience of over a million users every month. He appears to be an expert with 10 years of experience in SEO and digital marketing. Damir has been mentioned in Mashable, Wired, Cointelegraph, The New Yorker, Inside.com, Entrepreneur, BeInCrypto, and other publications. He travels between the UAE, Turkey, Russia, and the CIS as a digital nomad. Damir earned a bachelor's degree in physics, which he believes has given him the critical thinking skills needed to be successful in the ever-changing landscape of the internet.Ā 

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