Silicon Valley tech executives conduct social experiment in Kenya

The integration of technology into everyday life is continually on the rise. As technology continues to replace human employees, questions over the possibility of unemployment and how people will maintain some sort of income and livelihood are becoming ever more relevant.

Faced with tackling this problem, executives of technology businesses in Silicon Valley are using Kenya as a testing ground for possible solutions to this problem. The village these executives selected represents an extreme situation of poverty. Even compared to the rest of Kenya, the village of Aswan Abagi is poor. The village faces a host of difficulties that contribute to its continued state of poverty.

The charity GiveDirectly will begin giving people in 200 villages free sums of money, no strings attached. The charity is  the largest, most comprehensive test ever conducted of a radical form of wealth distribution known as “basic income” or “universal basic income.”

GiveDirectly chose Kenya over other locations primarily because the organization has been embedded in the region for several years already and has data to suggest people will be open to getting the money. While the charity has seen a few people decline the money (out of distrust in the program’s legitimacy), GiveDirectly expects smooth sailing in both regions.

Such an ambitious experiment from silicon valley has no precedent, but smaller trials indicate that by giving individuals free money, entire villages could also prosper. As experiments into universal salaries continue, it seems that this form of charity may prove to be one of the most successful.

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