How Self-Owning Autonomous Machines Can Generate a Basic Income for Mankind

It is not the question who can pay for an Unconditional Basic Income, but what. Unlike humans, machines have no intrinsic motivation to earn money and accumulate wealth, they just do what they are programmed to do. If we would build infrastructures from machines or technologies that own themselves, the returned value that comes from the users can be put back into the system and/or society and used for the common good. Self-owning machines can add value, but have no urge to keep it. This value can be distributed as a basic income for mankind. 

Thirty km east of Berlin, at 52°27’39.8″N 13°50’22.9”E to be exact, a prototype of a self-owned forest is set up, Terra0. The project is set up to investigate if an augmented forest can own and utilize itself. It starts with the project initiators buying a piece of forest and designing a smart contract (a set of rules programed into code), whichstates that the “Non Human Actor” (NHA) can buy shares (tokens registered on the blockchain) of the land from the project initiators. Then, the NHA starts trading. A smart contract  ‘orders’ a satellite image from a piece of forest every six months. The computer program uses the information from the image to define the trees that can be harvested and sold without damaging the forest too much. Licences to log certain trees are sold. If a certain sum of money has been earned via selling these licenses, the program starts to repay its debts to the project initiators by buying its terra0 tokens back. Inputs as well as outputs of a piece of land can thus be controlled. Once repayment is complete, the original owners hold no more tokens, thus the forest is the sole shareholder of its own economic unit; the forest, in economic terms, controls itself and can start trading by its own. It can expand by using its returned assets to buy more forest, using a computer program and dynamic data-sets.

Why stop here? We can have self-owning windmill parks, self-owning autonomous driving vehicles, we can have self-owning unmovable goods as well as movable goods that generate value. From here, it is a small step to design self-owning infrastructures that generate value and distribute part of it as a basic income. With the technologies of today, we can transform towards a society where everyone wins, towards a state of abundance instead of scarcity, whilst protecting the planet.

Picture: Robèrt Guérain

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