Dr. Tavneet Suri on Basic Income and Why Evidence and Facts Matter

Posted by Alyssa Verzino on Nov 30, 2018 2:22:13 PM



As people think about the future of work and what may happen if AI takes a lot of jobs, could providing a basic income to people be a solution? This week on AI at Work, Rob May discussed the concept of basic income with Dr. Tavneet Suri from MIT Sloan School of Management.

At its most base case, basic income means that the the government is paying a flat fee every year to every citizen. Tune in to learn more about what this means and about Dr. Tavneet Suri’s research in sub-Saharan Africa. As you can imagine, there is a lot of debate over this issue. Here’s a sneak peek at Dr. Suri’s take on it,

“There's lots of stories out there about whether basic income means people will stop working because they have no incentive to work, and will it affect labor supply, and will it affect all these other things. I think the ultimate answer is you have to test it to see before you can understand that. Because as you probably know, with 100 people there's 100 different opinions about what to do...

In general, the existing literature has been small. There were these experiments in the US, I want to say, circa the 70s. Which has been a while, and we've changed a lot since the 1970s. We just felt like there was a ton of discussion and a ton of debate and a ton of “here's the upside and here's the downside” and “here's my favorite upside and my favorite downside” without really trying to build an evidence base. We felt like it was time to start to build an evidence base before we try to implement something that some of us for whatever gut reason believe is good and some of us for whatever gut reason feel is bad. The 1970s experiments, I think, were well done, and had a range of effects. But it's been a while… It's a different world.”

Tavneet Suri headshot b&w

Dr. Tavneet Suri, Assoiciate Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management

Tune in to this episode of AI at Work to learn more, or read the full episode transcription hereAnd, be sure to subscribe on iTunes or Google Play and share with your friends.

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Topics: AI at Work