SAN FRANCISCO — Mark Zuckerberg is talking up universal basic income — the guaranteed distribution of cash stipends to cover basic expenses — as a possible new safety net as technology automates more jobs, putting more people out of work.
In a Facebook post about a trip this week to Alaska with wife Priscilla Chan, the Facebook CEO praised the state's Permanent Fund, which pools the state's oil revenue and pays out cash dividends to eligible Alaskans. In 2016, that dividend was $1,022.
"This is a novel approach to basic income in a few ways. First, it's funded by natural resources rather than raising taxes. Second, it comes from conservative principles of smaller government, rather than progressive principles of a larger safety net. This shows basic income is a bipartisan idea," Zuckerberg wrote.
He also highlighted a smaller dividend program for corporations that are owned and run by native Alaskans and sit on native land. Each year, the corporations pays out a dividend to shareholders, mostly natives.
Zuckerberg said Alaska's approach "may be a lesson for the rest of the country."
Universal basic income is an idea that has been around for decades, but interest has surged in recent years, particularly in Silicon Valley, which is bracing for the political fallout from technological advances in robotics and artificial intelligence wiping out more jobs.
Among the tech industry leaders who have touted the benefits of universal basic income are Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Y Combinator President Sam Altman and eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar,
Zuckerberg called for exploring the system of wealth distribution during his Harvard commencement address.