Elon Musk Says We Need A Universal Basic Income To Cope With Robots Taking Our Jobs


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer


Maybe we're the robots. Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images

The robots are coming. Driverless cars, automated bartenders, and plenty of other technological shifts are surely on the horizon. But what impact will it have on our lives?

For Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, the coming rise of artificial intelligence (AI) may require a drastic change in our society as we know it. In an interview with CNBC last Friday, he said how we’ll need to prepare for the loss of jobs, but it may have some benefits.


“I think that there’s a pretty good chance that we end up with a universal basic income or something like that due to automation,” he said.

“People will have time to do other things, more complex things, more interesting things.

“Certainly more leisure time. And then we’ve got to figure out how we integrate with a world and future with advanced AI.”

Tesla, of course, is at the forefront of automation. Its electric cars currently have self-driving capabilities, and by next year the company wants its cars to be fully autonomous.


AI, too, is already having an effect in other areas. Robot surgeons, telemarketers, and even journalists are already seeping into our lives. The idea of a universal income to protect against potential job losses might therefore not be a terrible idea.

A universal income could help tackle issues such as homelessness and poverty, but it’s unlikely to be something that is readily accepted. In June this year, Swiss people voted overwhelmingly against the idea of a basic income, the first country to hold such a vote.

It’s an interesting discussion point, at least. If artificial intelligence is ultimately able to perform many different jobs, what will humans be left to do? Perhaps freeing us from the shackles of work, and giving us time to do the finer things in life isn’t too bad. Let’s just not go the way of Wall-E, eh.

Musk had a final thought to give in the interview. “Ultimately, I think there would need to be some sort of improved symbiosis with digital superintelligence,” he said. “But that’s a pretty involved discussion.”


Indeed. Perhaps just focus on replacing us all with robots for now, Elon.

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  • robots,

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  • jobs,

  • automation,

  • universal income