Today I had a fun idea that’s probably quite useful as thought experiment. Let’s assume that there is a thing that’s called the “Awesome Income”. It’s like an unconditional basic income, but it’s only for certain awesome people – and you happen to be one of them. So, you get this Awesome Income because you are an awesome person, but for life. You get whopping 30000€ per month that you can use for any purpose. There are no strings attached. You will get that money until the end of your life, even if you lose your awesomeness, no matter where you live, or whether you have a fixed home. That money can’t be taken from you, just because you do something that’s politically undesired by the people in power. You continue getting that amount of money, even if you happen to end up in jail. Let’s assume that the people who finance the Awesome Income stick to their word absolutely and have made it very certain that you will continue to get that money indefinitely.
So, what would you do with an Awesome Income of that amount? I’m pretty sure that there are a lot of common themes that people in this forum would share. But anyway, I’m interested in your personal ideas about using that amount of money.
Wow, 30 kilo Euros a month! I’d be motivated to show just how awesome I could be! Travel to Europe, to be sure, and research topics now not adequately explored (plenty of them in the history of science). Perhaps complete my education with a bachelor’s of Medicine in the UK. I would not let my hands lie idle.
Before getting into specifics about my own answer, I’ll start with some general considerations that don’t necessarily reflect my own preferences, but can be helpful for thinking about what to do with the money.
First of all: 30 000 Euro per month are very much for a single person. Even with 3000 Euro per month many people would be able to live a very comfortable life – except in very expensive places like Switzerland or San Francisco.
Such a high guaranteed income makes having a regular job superfluous – at least from a purely economic perspective. Getting a formal education would be highly optional. Usually, a large part of the value of a formal education would come from its signalling value and its implied status. As recipient of an Awesome Income such a signalling and status boost probably wouldn’t change much, since being recognized as being so awesome as to receive an Awesome Income comes with a much higher status boost. So, what about the networking and learning components of studying? Well, with so much money, you could buy yourself a private lecturer / mentor. Learning with such a person might be more effective than going to any university. What about networking, then? Yes, that might be an issue, but being an Awesome Income recipient will make it much easier to get to know very interesting persons and get them to listen to you!
Now what kind of lifestyle would be possible with that Awesome Income? Since you get the income no matter where you live, it would be feasible not to have a static home at all. You could travel the world, going from one interesting location to the next. A cheaper (used) private jet (like this one) might just be affordable (if you don’t fly too often), but it would eat up very deeply into your budget, so that’s probably not the best use of money. Travelling business class is a more realistic option, though. But let’s be modest here. There’s no need to waste money on short-term convenience like that, at least not on a regular basis. Living as digital nomad would be a pretty safe option with an Awesome Income, in any case.
What about settling down? When using 5000 Euro per month for regular expenses, you could save 25000 Euro per month, or 300k Euro per year. Saving up money over multiple years allows for a housing budget that can include expensive options. Still, we are futurists, so keeping prices low, and creative possibilities high, by 3d printing one’s new home would be an interesting idea. We are living in a time where that’s just becoming a real possibility.
After these upfront investments are finished, the question about what to do with the rest of the money becomes quite an issue. You don’t want to leave so much money lying around idly. So, what are the options?
Burn it, in order to fight inflation (yes, hilarious idea)
Try increasing your money even further by investing it cleverly, or let someone else do that for you
Invest your money into companies and organisations that you think are doing important things, potentially also via crowdfunding
Donate the “excess money” to organisations you think are worth it – ideally doing some effective altruism (even if you don’t believe that your own money could do much, the signalling value of an Awesome Income recipient doing effective altruism could be such an impact multiplier that it might be totally worth it)
Share your Awesome Income with people you think are awesome
Start a company or a non-profit, or more than one
Do something even more creative with your money
It’s probably a strong reflection of your values and preferences what options from those you choose, if any. I mean, you could spend all the money on private consumption…
Well, I had hoped for more replies to this thought experiment. I guess that’s understandable, since it’s really hard to come up with a smart plan for using the Awesome Income.
Anyway, here’s what I would like to do with such an amount of money.
3000€/month for myself
First of all I can cover my living expenses with that. I don’t need more than 1000€ a month, but having a personal income of 3000€ would enable a really decent life style for me and allow me to travel a lot (mostly to visit interesting or important conventions and other events around the world). Even though I’d like to have even more money for myself, I’d feel that diminishing returns would make that a relatively ineffective use of the money.
3000€/month for effective altruism
I’d opt for using 3000€ per month for “regular effective altruism”, because I’d be able to show that I think effective altruism needs to be more of a thing that at least wealthier people should do. But I probably won’t go higher than this amount, because I think there are even more awesome ways to use the Awesome Income.
24000€/month for everything connected to the Future Base
So, what’s this more awesome thing? Warning: The following stuff will sound quite crazy, but it is necessary to be a little bit crazy in order to change the world to the better.
I want to establish a “Future Base”, basically a place for futuristic projects. The basis idea is that the Future Base is something like a private hackerspace that is mostly focused on futurist / transhumanist stuff, but also on optimising one’s physical and mental health (the importance of that is underestimated all too often). What should it have?
It should have a place where I can live, whether alone or with people I like, because what’s cooler than living in a Future Base?
There should be office space and basic infrastructure for futuristic start-ups that work on awesome projects
Beautiful nature in close proximity, which must include forests, because forests are especially uplifting for my mood
A laboratory for mad scientists, muahahahaha! Ideally multiple labs for different purposes!
A place for makers that has seriously advanced 3d printers (those are pretty expensive, so that’s quite a large investment)
At least one dedicated conference/meeting/seminar/presentation/discussion/filming/party room where we can discuss plans for world awesomification and other stuff
A general purpose community room to which people can bring and do their own random or futuristic stuff
A community kitchen
A community garden for hydroponically grown open source GMO plants or something like that
Toilets and showers until someone comes up with more futuristic alternatives for those.
A playground for kids of any age (from 0 to infinity)
A torture chamber, also known as gym
A room for (power) naps and meditation
An open stable and a sufficiently large pasture for herbivores (which won’t be eaten – they are there for therapeutic purposes, and potentially for uplifting experiments later on)
A dedicated outdoor area for doing crazy recreational stuff (of course I mean sports with that, but calling it “dedicated crazy recreational stuff area” might make people more creative, so that they use it in unexpected ways)
Lots of storage space for all the stuff that is needed and will accumulate
Perhaps a small hospital room for biohacking and treating people, if something goes wrong (which is not too unlikely in such a place)
Optionally a small hotel for guests, members, and tourists
Optionally apartments for those who want to live within or in close proximity to the Future Base
Optionally a sauna (perhaps of the near infrared type), because what’s better than seeing all kinds of nerds naked while doing something really healthy? (just to clear this up from the start: That was meant slightly ironic, but I think a sauna would still be a good idea)
Optionally a place for swimming, whether that’s a swimming pool, or a lake.
Perhaps later on a small nuclear reactor, because paying electricity bills shouldn’t be a necessity – instead the Future Base could even sell energy
And of course a launch platform for rockets and/or space planes … well, just kidding, even though that would certainly appear futuristic
I have probably forgotten lots of cool or necessary stuff. The Future Base should be children-, animal-, and female-friendly. Especially the last point needs to be emphasized, because there are way too few females in the futurist/transhumanist community, and I don’t want to make it even worse in the Future Base. Synergy effect of being children-friendly: The Future Base will train the next generation of innovative futurists, simply by letting them watch what the adults do there.
Building and maintaining such a Future Base with a budget of 24000$ per month would probably be a big challenge. So, the Future Base most likely needs to create some kind of income, for example by renting out some of the space. To be really futuristic and save money, the idea is to 3d print all the buildings of the Future Base (or assemble them in a similarly futuristic way). Later on, the Future Base might be able to sell goods and services.
The space and nature requirements of the Future Base suggests that it needs to be located in a relatively rural area. That’s not ideal from a travel and commuting perspective, but that’s a price that people should be ready to pay. Self-driving cars will make travel and commuting less annoying.
How would that space be run? Mostly self organised, like a Teal organisation, see
Of course, this is only a first brainstorming draft for a Future Base. We will probably need to shift the discussion about Future Bases to a different thread.