Elon Musk Thinks We’ll Likely End Up With Universal Basic Income Due to Robots Taking Jobs

December 8, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

elon musk
Photo credit: Tesla Club Belgium/Flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

As robots steal our jobs, Musk envisions that the government will start paying individuals a regular wage.

Sadly, the concept of robots taking over our jobs isn’t a new plot for a Black Mirror episode.

As technology continues to advance, artificially intelligent robots and computers may become the workforce of the future. This doesn’t necessarily mean that humans are doomed to become jobless and bankrupt — at least according to Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

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Musk envisions that, as more jobs are replaced by technology, society will ultimately integrate into a “universal basic income” system, sustained by regular paychecks paid out to individuals by the government — free money, if you will.  

"There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation," Musk said in an interview with CNBC. "Yeah, I am not sure what else one would do. I think that is what would happen."

Erik Brynjolfsson, the director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, explains that a basic income system already exists for some people today.

"Just consider social security, Medicare, and welfare — these are types of basic income,” he told NBC News. “As automation makes society richer — unevenly — then there's scope for a more generous social safety net."

Back in February, Moshe Vardi, an Israeli computer scientist and professor at Rice University, projected that more than half of the world’s working population could be replaced by robots in the next 30 years.

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In fact, we’re already seeing instances in which robots are performing their jobs like rock stars. A “lawyer bot” made news after successfully helping 160,000 people void parking tickets.

Could a universal basic income be the answer? While Musk might think so, others might not be as convinced, but one thing’s clear: it wouldn’t hurt to start weighing our options.

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