Elon Musk: There's a "pretty good chance" we're going to have universal basic income


Elon Musk has some dark prognostications for the future of technology — that developing artificial intelligence is like summoning an uncontrollable demon, for example. But Musk revealed a surprisingly positive prospective plan in an interview with CNBC on Friday.

Musk believes that eventually, the robot automation of labor will result in dramatic inequality that will necessitate a universal basic income, a radical form of wealth redistribution where the government provides every adult citizen with a minimum paycheck, no matter what their employment situation is.

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

Basic income has been supported throughout the last hundred years of American history by civil rights leaders, economists and futurists like Friedrich Hayek, Stephen Hawking, Bertrand Russell, Erich Fromm and, of course, Martin Luther King Jr., who saw basic income as "the solution to poverty" once and for all. Basic income is supported across the ideological spectrum — there's a conservative case for basic income, the libertarian case, the feminist case, etc.

Getty Images

But basic income's most recent endorsement didn't come from Silicon Valley technocrats, but from representatives of Black Lives Matter who put universal basic income at the center of their platform for economic reparations.

"As patterns and norms of 'work' change rapidly and significantly in the decades to come — no matter how profound those changes are — it is likely that black America and other populations that are already disadvantaged will bear the brunt of whatever economic insecurity and volatility results," the platform states.