What we mean by "Prosperity"
We have created the most accurate and comprehensive measure of well-being and an equally comprehensive process for helping the unprosperous attain it
As noted elsewhere on our website, the prosperity we speak of means well-being and self-actualization. That is, each person should be able to attain—with expected individual effort—a comfortable and rewarding life, what Aristotle calls flourishing.
Thus, AI Humanity focuses primarily on providing the unprosperous with practicable access to the resources necessary for well-being and self-actualization—prosperity.
Crucially, we strive to help the unprosperous realize such well-being, such prosperity, so that individuals can have the liberty and economic independence to pursue their own ideal of happiness and personal fulfillment.
Overview of the Prosperity Score
We have created the Prosperity Score to assess and nurture well-being. To compute the actual score, we assess, evaluate, measure, and track more than 90 vital factors that contribute to the well-being of a 21st-century human.
The Stages of the Human Economic Condition
The following demonstrates the six general stages of the human economic condition, any of which a person couldbe living in at any given time; we help the unprosperous (particularly people living in any of the first threestages) get on the path to self-sufficiency and then onto prosperity:
- In a State of UrgencyThe individual is in any dire condition—such as malnourishment, destitution, non-functioning addicton, etc.—that requires urgent help.
- Devastatingly PoorThe individual suffers from the worst form of poverty—a complete lack of basic necessities and dignity. So demoralizing, so destructive, and so wretched is this poverty as to permanently harm the individual and their offspring (likely for generations), physically and psychologically.
- PoorThe individual could be in a state of absolute or relative poverty, both of which can result in similar pathologies, afflictions, and social strife as that of devastating poverty.
- Self-SufficientThe individual can provide for himself or herself and their family and lives an economically independent life, with no need for government assistance for necessities. While self-sufficient, the individual has not risen to the status of comfortable or prosperous, due to other deficiencies and afflictions necessary to overcome to realize well-being. Such deficiencies could include pathological inequality [?], structural injustice, personal unenlightenment, and zero wealth (for hard times), to name a few.
- ComfortableThe individual may be comfortable, or even financially rich, but is unprosperous due to one or more factors that impair well-being; such factors could include pathological inequality,institutionalized injustices, personal unenlightenment (e.g., financial illiteracy), or any factor that compromises the individual's well-being or threatens their economic stability.
- ProsperousThe individual has realized comprehensive personal well-being in an equallywholesome community.
Capturing the Crucial Factors of Human Well-Being
Our prosperity score captures all of the consequential factors of human wellness, including:
- State of urgency:
Is the individual in a state of urgency due to the impairment of drug addiction, hunger, homeless, persecution, physical ailment, inescapable gang affiliation, etc.?
- Mental health:
Many of the unprosperous suffer from myriad unattended mental health problems—some due to well-established biological defect, some due to scarcity, some due to exposure to harmful chemicals in their communities, and some due to generational history of injustice, subjugation, and hardship—that created or further exacerbate their predicament. These pathologies often have dire consequences for the individuals' themselves and for their families and their communities, including violence against women and widespread violent crimes in their communities.
We assess whether individuals can independently support themselves and their family. Local and state governments and aid organizations can use this comprehensive, precise measure of self-sufficiency to determine who needs help and how much help they need. This is one of the important assessments that helps us identify the poor. Anyone not self-sufficient is poor and thus likely need help of some sort.
- Mental bandwidth:
Is the individual suffering from scarcity of the sort that depletes their mental capacity for sound decision-making, self-improvement, self-control, cognitive fluidity, and general productivity?
- Financial comfort and wealth:
Life is miserable when one lives in a constant state of financial distress, as the unprosperous do. Many live without even access to basic financial services, including a proper bank account, which limits their financial capacity, suppresses their ambitions, and restricts their independence in our sophisticated financially driven economies.
Our goal is to help the unprosperous realize financial comfort—that is, their monthly earnings should be at least 20%–30% above their monthly living expenses; and their living conditions should be at least adequate for a 21st-century individual. Part of this process includes providing them with access to dependable financial services. This wholesome financial stability will provide the unprosperous the financial foundation on which to establish independence and allow them to strive and focus on other desirable financial goals, such as building wealth.
The cycle of poverty will never end if we continue to focus on providing just aid and low-income jobs to the unprosperous in developed and developing countries. They need financial liberty and comfort—for autonomy, wellness, independence, and familial security and legacy.
- Security and social justice:
This includes assessment of the individual's exposure to and protection from tribulations such as neighborhood crime, domestic violence (which no one else besides the individual may be aware of), age and racial and gender discrimination, and institutionalized subjugations, among other related factors.
- Education, expertise, other skills, and career match:
Not only do we capture the individual's formal expertise (if any), and skills (including those unaccounted for by formal education), but we also identify and predict the most ideal career path for the individual.
- Personal enlightenment:
Is the individual literate on matters of their own medium- and long-term success (e.g., financial and economic literacy), political engagement and civil rights and liberties, and personal responsibilities to their community and society (e.g., environmental and ecological literacy, etc.)?
- Community well-being:
An individual's well-being is directly related to the well-being of the community to which the individual belongs. Accordingly, we capture the entire range of factors that comprise the community well-being and use them (along with the personal factors) to compute the individual overall well-being—the individual's prosperity score.
Example of an Individual’s Prosperity Score
Factors That Compute the Prosperity Score
Each score factor (or main category) is computed for its own measure of prosperity, the reason for the different colors and scores below. The colors and scores show the person’s state of prosperity (that is, devastatingly poor, poor, rising, or prosperous) in that specific category or subcategory.
Two Types of Prosperity Score: Individual and Community
An individual’s prosperity in any given community can’t be determined accurately from the community’s prosperity, since the factors used to assess the prosperity of a community cannot tell us the precise economic status of the individual.
For this reason, we have created two forms of the prosperity score—the individual (or personal) prosperity score and the community prosperity score, as described below.
Although both the individual and the community prosperity scores use many of the same score factors (e.g., environmental and waste management, healthcare, accessible and reliable transportation), the individual prosperity score also uses factors unique to the specific individual whose prosperity is being evaluated. These include such personal factors as income, age, education, family size, expenses, aspirations, and so on.
Thus, the personal prosperity score uses its own unique score factors as well as score factors used for the community prosperity score, since an individual likely belongs to (that is, resides in) a specific community.
AI Humanity relies heavily on the prosperity score. It helps direct and instruct all of our policies and solutions. It is the first step AI Humanity takes to locate the unprosperous, to decide what kind of help they need, and to determine how best to help them. It also tells us what resources and opportunities are needed by any given individual or community.
The prosperity score serves an integral role in AI Humanity’s comprehensive solution. Sometime in 2020 or sooner, after we complete the prosperity score, which is currently in the research phase, we will make it available for public use.
Martin Ravallion, an economist at the World Bank, noticed in 1990 that “the poverty lines of a few of the world’s poorest countries clustered around $1.02 per day”1 (The Divide) and arbitrarily declared that figure to be the poverty line.
Since then, the world has been using that guideline as a measure of world poverty, with some fluctuations when politicians and bureaucrats, for their own expediency, decide to increase or reduce the number of poor people in any region of the world, within minutes and often by hundreds of millions of people, just by effortlessly tweaking a number here or adjusting a formula there. This privilege and control over the poor exemplify the powerlessness and heartbreaking existence of poor and unprosperous people.
In the United States, the poverty guideline, adjusted every year to account for inflation, was created in the 1960s by calculating the cost of a single basket of food and then multiplied by three to account for other expenses. This estimate for poverty is beyond inaccurate.
No matter where in the world the unprosperous live, if we were to increase by 50% the income of any of the given poverty guidelines, a family would merely move from one state of poverty to another state of economic depression—and would still be poor.
For example, if we increase the U.S. poverty guideline by 50% ($25,100 a year for a family of four, increased by 50% to $37,650), the family would still be poor and economically depressed—unprosperous—barely able to pay the monthly bills and barely able to afford just the necessities for an unprivileged standard of living.
Consider, too, that a highly educated software engineer living and working in Silicon Valley and making an annual salary of $160,000 is more likely to be economically depressed than an uneducated Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) living and working for $60,000 a year in Mississippi.
As Richard discusses in his book Universalprosperia:
Evidently, these poverty guidelines don’t give us enough meaningful information about the unprosperous. They tell us nothing about the unhealthful foods, the only kind accessible and affordable to the unprosperous, that pollute our bodies and retard our intellects; nothing about the unaffordable healthcare that drains our earnings and bankrupts our families; nothing about the multiple jobs and 60-hour work weeks and pay-check-to-paycheck existence that deplete our cognitive bandwidth and rob us of personal well-being; nothing about our financial, economic, ecological, and political illiteracy; nothing about the lack of financial capital and investments in aspiring entrepreneurs in poor communities, a travesty that ensures true wealth remains an illusion for the majority of the unprosperous.
And they tell us nothing about the unsteady and insufficient income that makes a good credit score highly unlikely and home-ownership impossible; nothing about the jobs that leave our communities and devastate the once-prosperous life of entire generations and communities; nothing about the drug-addiction policies that facilitate addiction and criminalize that same addiction; nothing about the poor’s own traditions and cultural practices that heighten our intolerance and ignorance and allow our community leaders and political predators to decide our social and economic understanding and political inclinations; nothing about the compound interest on IMF loans that stagnate countries’ economic growth and prohibit governments from investing properly in the education and business development of their own citizens; nothing about the powerlessness of the entire existence and the indignity of our livelihoods.
The poverty guidelines tell us nothing much, except how unfair and inconsiderate the very poverty guidelines and our own societies have been and continue to be when assessing the possibilities, potential, humanity, and welfare of the poor and all the unprosperous.
At AI Humanity, we had no choice but to create our own measure of prosperity, one that is comprehensive, fair, precise, dynamic, instructive, and compassionate.