A universal basic income will become necessary because of all the jobs that will be lost to automation in the coming years, says the founder and CEO of Tesla Motors.
“There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better,” billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk told a crowd on Monday at the World Government Summit in Dubai. “These are not things I wish will happen; these are things I think probably will happen.”
Elon Musk, Chairman of SolarCity and CEO of Tesla Motors, speaks at SolarCity's Inside Energy Summit in Manhattan, New York October 2, 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Rashid Umar Abbasi)
The man behind the Tesla electric car, the SpaceX private space flight program and solar power company SolarCity then brought up the question of what to do about a future with fewer jobs.
“I think some kind of universal basic income is going to be necessary,” he said, as quoted at Fast Company.
Musk addressed one major objection to a basic income: That it could prove unaffordable for governments. He argued that increased productivity from automation would make economies wealthy enough to handle it.
“The output of goods and services will be extremely high. With automation there will come abundance. Almost everything will get very cheap. I think we'll end up doing universal basic income,” he said.
Musk is part of a growing group of entrepreneurs and financiers who are coming around to the idea. Among them are famed money manager Bill Gross and Timotheus Höttges, CEO of German IT giant Deutsche Telekom.
"If there's no need for your labour, what's your meaning? That's a much harder problem to deal with."
— Elon Musk
Musk says that, rather than money, the real challenge of a basic income will be how shifting people’s ideas of how to give meaning to their lives.
“A lot of people derive their meaning from their employment. So if there's no need for your labor, what's your meaning? Do you feel useless? That's a much harder problem to deal with."
Human brain meets machine?
But Musk didn’t stop there: He looked further into the future, and suggested that, eventually, humans will have to merge with artificial intelligence (AI).
Musk said if humans want to avoid being made irrelevant, they will need technologies to merge with AI in a way that allows them to communicate at the speed of machines.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks after unveiling the Dragon V2 spacecraft in Hawthorne, California May 29, 2014. (Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni/File)
"Some high bandwidth interface to the brain will be something that helps achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence and maybe solves the control problem and the usefulness problem," Musk said at the conference, as quoted at CNBC.
This is not the first time Musk has suggested either idea. He has reportedly been working on a “neural lace” meant to act as an interface between artificial intelligence technology and the human brain.
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