Elon Musk: The Gov’t Will Be Forced To Enact Universal Basic Income

Steve Jurvetson / C.C. - 2.0

“I think it’s going to be necessary. There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better.” -Elon Musk

Earlier this year at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Elon Musk offered his thoughts on the effects of growing automation on the world's workforce and concluded the only way forward is to begin implementing universal basic income (UBI) as more and more workers are replaced by machines.

As reported by Futurism,

Musk...relayed concerns that autonomous technology will impact jobs, and he noted that we will likely have intelligent, massive-scale automation for transportation relatively soon—within the next few decades, in fact: “Twenty years is a short period of time to have something like 12-15 percent of the workforce be unemployed,” he said, pointing out the extent of how automation will disrupt car-based transportation specifically.

Beyond the realm of transportation, Must sees AI and automation creeping into a number of employment sectors, leaving little choice but to address what should be done with those who are put out of work.

Musk argues that the government must introduce a UBI program in order to compensate for this. “I don’t think we’re going to have a choice,” he said. “I think it’s going to be necessary. There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better.”

UBI has been on the radar of numerous governments and think tanks for some time, with a handful of countries already rolling out trial programs or making plans to do so in the near future.

Finland, for example, started its pioneering UBI program this year, which was launched by the federal social security institution, Kela. It will give out €560 ($587) a month, tax free, to 2,000 Finns that were randomly selected. Similarly, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s philanthropic investment firm has given $493,000 to help fund a universal basic income program in Kenya.

Futurism reported in September that startup incubator Y Combinator is looking to do a randomized trial of UBI in the United States, in an effort to quantify its effects.

In a new blog post published on the company’s website this week, they reveal their plans to pick 3,000 individuals from two states at random to receive a monthly cash handout. 1,000 participants will receive $1,000 per month for a period up to five years, while the other 2,000 will receive $50 per month, serving as the control group.

Within a few years, there should be a better understanding of how effective UBI is and whether or not it can be implemented successfully on a larger scale.