Elon Musk’s latest puzzling statement on how AI will affect our jobs

  • Elon Musk says that AI will “probably” take all of our jobs one day.
  • In this scenario, the billionaire envisions that humans would work only if they had hobbies and not to sustain themselves.
  • Reports suggest some jobs are already disappearing because of AI software.

The world’s richest man has said some strange things in the past.

He once told Joe Rogan in a now-infamous weed-filled podcast episode that he was an alien, once said that he would aid Ukraine’s defence against Russia by sending “space dragons with lasers” and in 2023 said that there was an above-zero percent chance that AI could “kill us all.”

As per a CNN report, Elon Musk’s latest prediction about AI is that the technology will one day take all of our jobs.

“Probably none of us will have a job,” he said about AI at the VivaTech 2024 conference in Paris. The billionaire was talking about how AI has the potential to essentially perform all human labour, leaving humans with boundless free time.

“If you want to do a job that’s kinda like a hobby, you can do a job,” Musk explained. “But otherwise, AI and the robots will provide any goods and services that you want.”

For this scenario to actually take place, however, Musk said that humans around the world would need a “universal high income.” Perhaps he meant a universal basic income, which is when a country’s government gives its citizens a certain amount of money every month regardless of their occupation or how much they earn.

It sounds like Musk is envisioning some sort of Marxist utopia, but instead of wealth distribution allowing people to not have to work, robots taking over production will allow the same.

Will AI take all of our jobs? Well, in some industries this is already happening. Or rather more correctly, human employers are hiring fewer people because they believe generative AI software can perform the same tasks as them.

The IMF said earlier this year that 40 percent of the global workforce will likely be impacted by generative AI software in some way, usually positive.

“Roughly half the exposed jobs may benefit from AI integration, enhancing productivity,” the IMF explained.

“For the other half, AI applications may execute key tasks currently performed by humans, which could lower labour demand, leading to lower wages and reduced hiring. In the most extreme cases, some of these jobs may disappear.”

As for those jobs that may disappear, it is roles in administration and human resources that will likely be the first to go.

White-collar careers like data entry clerks, software engineers and coders, customer service reps, paralegals, copywriters, graphic designers, bankers, accountants, traders and proofreaders/fact-checkers are the most likely to see their work negatively impacted by AI software.

But again, it isn’t the AI that is taking these jobs away, it is employers less willing to pay salaries for work than an AI can do.

Blue-collar jobs, in contrast, are not expected to be affected as much by generative AI software.

So before we panic about what the creator of Grok is saying about our jobs, we need to remember that Musk is elucidating on an old idea, one that basically forms the plot of Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot novels. A future where robots are the slaves of mankind, leading to a new age of economic and social bliss.

It is highly unlikely that our real trajectory with AI technology will mirror this sci-fi-based ideas, especially given that the generative AI we have now is not the Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) that Asimov and others have written about in the past. That concept is still reserved for the books.

Meanwhile, other sources tout the benefits of AI, especially in the global economy. A now routinely-cited McKinsey & Company report believes that AI could add trillions of dollars to the world’s combined GDP, which means more jobs and a higher general standard of living is possible – or, the wealth is concentrated in a few corporations, which means things will get worse for us.


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