Thursday, March 28, 2024

Elon Musk Predicts, Not Just UBI But A 'Universal High Income'

Mr. Musk predicts many things, many of them interesting. This could be one of them depending on punctuation. If he is thinking about a universal high, income we've been there, done that with Brave New World's soma but if it's UHI, without the comma we should see if there is anything leading to this conclusion beyond Elon's natural and/or ketamine-induced optimism.

From Fortune magazine, November 6, 2023:

Elon Musk says AI will remove need for jobs and create ‘universal high income.’ But workers don’t want to wait for robots to get financial relief

Good morning!

While speaking at the U.K.’s inaugural A.I. Safety Summit last week, serial founder, investor, and CEO Elon Musk predicted that AI would inevitably remove the need for all jobs. 

“It’s hard to say exactly what that moment is, but there will come a point where no job is needed,” Musk told U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. “You can have a job if you want to have a job, or sort of personal satisfaction, but the AI will be able to do everything.”

That may sound alarming to many, and even Musk joked that he wasn’t sure “if that makes people comfortable or uncomfortable.” But Musk’s perspective was apparently more positive, describing his vision as a “protopian” future with AI.

“I think everyone will have access to this magic genie, and you’re able to ask any question. It’ll be certainly bigger for education. It’ll be the best tutor,” he said. “And there will be no shortage of goods and services. It will be an age of abundance.”

He also suggested AI will lead to a  “universal high income,” an apparent superior to universal basic income, which other Silicon Valley figures like Sam Altman and Mark Zuckerberg have advocated for. “We won’t have universal basic income. We’ll have universal high income,” Musk said, without clarifying how the two differ. “In some sense, it’ll be somewhat of a leveler, an equalizer.”

Musk’s preference for “universal high income” may signal a departure from his previous stance on universal basic income. In 2018, he posted on X that universal income “will be necessary over time if AI takes over most human jobs.” While disclosing that Tesla was working on a robot during a company presentation on AI in 2021, he expressed a similar sentiment and acknowledged the robot would likely replace human jobs.

Musk could also be falling in line with his peers who’ve recently criticized universal income. In a 5,200-word “Techno-Optimist Manifesto” released in mid-October, VC investor Marc Andreessen said universal basic income would “turn people into zoo animals to be farmed by the state,” writing that “man was not meant to be farmed; man was meant to be useful, to be productive, to be proud.”


In January we visited Sam Altman on this question, no mention on how high:
OpenAI Is Looking At Universal Basic Income For Workers Displaced By AI (plus Henry George stops by)

And on soma, some quotes from the book via

"All the advantages of Christianity and alcohol; none of their defects."


"..there is always soma, delicious soma, half a gramme for a half-holiday, a gramme for a week-end, two grammes for a trip to the gorgeous East, three for a dark eternity on the moon..."


"Benito was notoriously good-natured. People said of him that he could have got through life without ever touching soma. The malice and bad tempers from which other people had to take holidays never afflicted him. Reality for Benito was always sunny."

"you do look glum! What you need is a gramme of soma."

"Soma was served with the coffee. Lenina took two half-gramme tablets and Henry three."

"the warm, the richly coloured, the infinitely friendly world of soma-holiday. How kind, how good-looking, how delightfully amusing every one was! "

And many more.