Inside Finland’s Basic Income Hackathon

Finland has plans for a basic income scheme that would dispense with the complexities of the social security system. A group led by Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, and consisting of representatives of various research institutes, is developing a model for a basic income trial in 2017. To get a genuinely wide perspective to basic we organised a “basic income hackathon”.

The Basic Income Hack was organized by Demos Helsinki, Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund and Open Knowledge Finland on 4th and 5th of March 2016 to gather and promote ideas and projects related to basic income. The outcomes involved simulations, visualisations and communications material. The results were shared with the group preparing the trial.

One of the hack’s teams focusing on communication was the Onneksi olkoon, sinut on valittu! (Congratulations, you have been chosen) -team. The teams was working on an info package to the people who are chosen to be part of the basic income trial. In the material for the participants, the team was using a life cycle model to demonstrate how basic income paves the way for transition periods in life and reduces risks for individuals in turning points in life.

The Perustulolaskuri (Basic income calculator) team designed an easy-to-use calculator for a web page where people can use their own data to see how basic income would affect their finances.

Perustulopeli team (Basic income game) was developing a game where the player can see how different models of basic income would affect the public finance.

OmatPalvelut team (My Own Services) came up with an application that offers the user a wide range of services that cater specifically her needs. 

Moodhack was working on visual way to view the emotions present in the discussion about basic income.

Elinkustannuslisä (the additional cost of living) teams’ idea was to come up with a regional addition to basic income for the areas where housing is very expensive.

Progressiivinen negatiivinen tulovero (Progressive negative income tax) team introduced their solution for financing basic income with a model related to the taxation model that Finns are used to.

Valikoiva otanta perustulokokeiluun (Selective sampling for basic income experiment) teams’ focus was on getting the maximal research material from the basic income trial. Their suggestion was that the participants would be from the cohort born in 1987, because they have been the target of a wider study and more specifically, the parents of young children in that cohort.

The hack inspired the Hyväkylä (The Good Village) team to develop a solution for a communal Finland. In their plan, basic income would be combined with communal work and a local currency.

Team Takuuverkko (Guarantee network) came up with two basic income solutions that would involve guaranteed work.

In course of basic income hackathon we learned five things:

*The is no such thing as a basic income, the ways in implementing it and reason for launching it are many and the outcome can thus vary greatly.

*The Finnish basic income experiment is very asynchronous with the rest of the world, especially with US discussions.

*A hyperconnected society entails a battle of political algorithms. In the future different political ideologies will have their own algorithms that they push.

*Finland along with many European countries does have an universal income, but the problem is that it’s very complex and not designed to be platform for 21st century citizens. 

*The detail and scope into which you can go with applying hackathons to social issues is huge!

What is most important, that the hackathon mobilized a totally new kind of political conversation. Basic income provides a new platform for politics. There has been almost no significant new policy initiatives and therefore politics has been largely about fine tuning certain parts of the system. Basic Income is different. It caters to everyone and involves money. In plain terms: policy does not get any more hard core than that.