Startup accelerator Y Combinator is known for its innovative model in providing startup funding to early-stage companies, but now it wants to help lift Americans out of poverty. On May 31, the company announced it will soon begin a basic income experiment in Oakland, California.  

TechCrunch explained that Y Combinator initially planned to conduct a five-year experiment to observe how people would react to receiving basic monthly income. It has instead decided to first conduct a short-term version of the experiment that will provide vital insight into what to do for a longer one in the future. 

In a blog post on Y Combinator's website, Sam Altman, the company's president, explained that the goal of the study is to see how people behave when they know they have a steady source if income. Will they continue to work? Will they waste their days away watching television? Will they volunteer? Will they further their educations and create new things to help humanity?

"We hope basic income promotes freedom, and we want to see how people experience that freedom," wrote Altman. 

Will Technology Necessitate Basic Income?
Altman explained Y Combinator's belief that basic income provisions will be increasingly necessary due to technological advances. Technology is replacing people in many jobs, but it is also reducing the cost of living by providing more resources. Thus, technology is the reason basic income will both be needed and possible.  

The concept of basic income has been growing in appeal, TechCrunch reported. Yet no matter how logical it may seem that every person deserves to earn a living wage no matter what, governments face the challenge of actually being able to afford it. Y Combinator's experiment suggests that it may not have to be governments who provide the funding for basic income. 

The Basic Income Project's Research Director will be Elizabeth Rhodes, who has a PhD in Social Work and Political Science from the University of Michigan and was selected from a pool of over 1000 applicants. Oakland was chosen as the test city for its vicinity to Y Combinator as well as its economic diversity. Altman explained it is a city characterized by concentrated wealth and inequality, which makes it a perfect first subject. 

Altman also emphasized that the income is unconditional for the duration of the study. No matter how people choose to use the money or spend their days, they will continue to receive their payments. 

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