Elon Musk Says We Are Going to End Up Receiving Basic Income

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk has joined the chorus of technologists calling for a universal basic income to mitigate the effects of replacing human workers with algorithms, robots, and other automated technologies.

“There’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk said during an interview with CNBC that covered everything from Tesla to the presidential election. “I’m not sure what else one would do.”

Tesla will contribute to that problem. It wants to replace truck drivers with fleet managers when it — and others — debut their autonomous big-rigs on U.S. highways.

But truckers aren’t the only ones who have to worry: Robots could replace hotel workers, security guards, and others whose jobs lend themselves to automation.

That’s why a White House panel said in July that automation will make a basic income necessary, and other experts agree that it’s at least worth considering.

Musk’s comments follow similar remarks from Sam Altman, president of the Y Combinator venture capital firm, who also believes that universal basic income is coming. Techies agree — the future of “work” is very different from the present.

“People will have more time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things, and certainly have more leisure time,” Musk said. “And then we’ve got to figure out how we integrate in a world in the future with advanced A.I. I think that’s going to be one of the toughest — maybe even the toughest — battles that I can think of.”

That’s a familiar refrain from Musk: He’s previously warned that A.I. could take down the internet and that even benign A.I. can cause problems if its creators aren’t careful in their initial instructions.

So A.I. could take our jobs, disrupt the internet, and threaten our lives. But hey — at least in the short term, if Musk, Altman, the White House, and other experts are correct, we won’t be living paycheck to paycheck.

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