Can tech transform the social safety net?
Derek Khanna, a fellow at the R Street Institute, said advances in technology offer the government the ability to completely reimagine welfare programs.
“Our federal entitlement systems are built for a different era,” he said. “We need to rethink the entire safety net so it’s compatible with the ‘gig economy,'” in which organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.
Khanna advocated a 21st-century version of workfare — similar to the 1996 welfare reform plan that requires individuals to work to receive government assistance — that focuses on the “extremely broad” gig economy, which typically relies on technology to connect employers and workers.
The gig economy is “a new middle ground” between full- and part-time employment that can also offer opportunities for people with disabilities to earn income, he said.