The latest to speak up in agreement with the growing number of big names in the tech industry that believe A.I. will cause huge job losses is none other than billionaire serial entrepreneur Richard Branson. In his view, it's time to take a big step back and really think about the future of workers in a post-A.I. world.
According to Branson, the rise of robot workers and all-around automation will cause a number of things to happen. The biggest one may be mass unemployment all over the world.
"I think with the coming on of A.I. and other things there is certainly a danger of income inequality," he explained. He said that the income inequality in particular will be caused by the loss of jobs because of A.I., and that this notion is undoubtedly true.
There are many ways in which the introduction of robots to most major workplaces can wipe out human jobs. And once that happens, it may be hard for those displaced workers to find alternative forms of employment. But there is one idea that could serve as a solution to this future problem, and Branson himself mentions it as well. It's none other than the implementation of a universal basic income system wherein individuals can "earn" a fixed amount from the government each month as an alternative to a monthly salary.
According to Branson, there should be a "basic minimum earnings" in order to cater to those who are affected by the mass unemployment caused by A.I. and robotics. It would be highly necessary to ensure that "there is nobody that is having to sleep on the street," Branson said in a statement. "One hundred percent, I think that is really important."
Widespread implementation of an idea like universal basic income is not without problems, however. There are some who have expressed concern over the potential of giving citizens what are essentially cash handouts to create so-called nanny states, where individuals decide that it is simply not worth spending any effort in working anymore – after all, they already make an earning through the monthly stipend provided by the government. To that, Branson says that it's irrelevant. "Some people will call it that, but I think that it will come about one day," and not because of some grand conspiracy, but "out of necessity."
It's not that hard to believe that a nanny state could form due to the institution of universal basic income, as there are many people who are already essentially living that life right now. Not to mention, there has never been mass unemployment on the scale of what could potentially happen if the robot revolution goes full steam ahead.
Once you sign on to earn your monthly income straight from the government, that could also lead to a loss of privacy or worse, freedom. That might not be a future that comes across many a billionaire's mind.
To learn more about the broader impacts of the oncoming robot revolution, check out Robots.news.