Friday, November 15, 2013

Possible effect on science of the unconditional basic income

The idea of a unconditional basic income is gaining a lot of traction lately, which means more and more people are getting exposed to this idea.
However one of the main counterargument still remains, that people will just become lazy bums.
Yet my position is that I firmly believe that each and everyone has a passion and given a basic income they will indeed shift their work focus from their normal job to whatever they're passionate about. I think this sounds fairly reasonable, but we don't really know how will this affect society as a whole.
Nevertheless I will try to assess the effect on science, a part of society.

In Switzerland (there will be a vote on the basic income) a lot of research is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. So what will happen to all researcher and PhD candidates once there is a basic income?
They will most likely just do what they did all the time: research. Why? Because they are very dedicated about their research.
To become a researcher in Switzerland you spend at least 18 years of your life at school studying. You're not just going to stop researching.

The more interesting question is whether the research output will increase. To answer this we need to look a bit into research funding.
The SNF pays an annual salary of 47-50'000 CHF for doctoral candidates. With the basic income, these researchers would get 30'000 CHF (12*2'500) year. This means that the SNF only has to pay about 20'000 CHF/y per PhD candidate. In other words with the budget of today and the basic income they can fund twice as many researcher! Actually they will probably not hire that many new researchers because this is just the salary and there are other costs (lab, conferences, etc.) involved in funding a project.

Of course this does not mean a doubling of research output, but there will be less pressure & less grant application writing for researchers therefore more time for research, generally a better working environment and more funding for commercial unattractive research proposals.
Thus I think it's safe to say that with a basic income, research & science will advance greatly.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Why the Zeitgeist Movement stopped growing

The Zeitgeist movement is promoting a resource based economy mainly through activism. This has worked out well in the early days, when it spread almost instantly around the globe. But now this growth has stalled. One reason could be that it has reached some sort of saturation point in the market of activists.

This implies that the movement, despite its dedication, is not winning the public over at all. It sounds absurd, but according to a study, this is exactly happening.

According to this article: The Paradox of Activism,which summarizes the study, activists alienate the people whose support they hope to win, due to negative stereotype associated with the activists.

 In other words, until activists can change their stereotype, activism may do more harm than good. So how can we change that stereotype? By showing that activists don't act as the stereotype requires.

One way would be to build up an alternative society not just talk about building it, no matter how tremendous this task is. The day an united group starts building a new society, it no longer preaches, but lives what it's preaching.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Idea: Nutrition management tool

Pleas read the Idea intro.
Have you ever wondered how healthy your diet is and how to improve it easily? This is a proposal for a software that would do exactly that, with a bit black magic in the background.

What would the user do

User Joe would track (whenever he does not forget) what he eats. The software would try to model his average nutrition intake, through heuristics and a database of nutrition facts. He would also have to decide diet recommendation he'd like to follow. i.e vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, no gluten etc. and which micro-nutrition, vitamins & supplements recommendation he trusts. (We can use data from this project to design recommendations)

What would the user get

The software would create, according to the users preferences, a list of supplements and ingredients the user is supposed to eat to reach his targeted nutrition needs.

The black magic

The used magic is tracking down all possible inter-ingredients relationships. In other words: the effect a ingredient has upon other ingredients, i.e your body does not absorb iron very well in absence of vitamin c. By using these relationships of ingredients it would be possible to create a menu plan that maximizes nutrition absorption with the smallest possible amount of food. Thus increasing the efficiency of eating.