Mark Zuckerberg Calls for Universal Basic Income in His Harvard Commencement Speech

May 26, 2017

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has become the latest major tech figure to call for universal basic income as a solution for inequality, joining a growing chorus from Silicon Valley.

"Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it's time for our generation to define a new social contract," Zuckerberg said during his commencement speech Thursday at Harvard University. "We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful."

"We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things," he said.

Zuckerberg told the class of 2017 that he was able to pursue his passion in Facebook because he knew he had a safety net to fall back on. "If I had to support my family growing up instead of having time to code," he said. " I wouldn't be standing here today."

The idea of universal basic income—in which the government unconditionally pays all citizens a small amount of money to cover basic needs—has recently gained traction within the tech community, as phenomena like automation and the startup culture emerge.

Major figures who have publicly supported the idea as a form of more efficient government welfare include Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who argues that the concept is a solution to unemployment caused by automation.

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