Google futurist and director of engineering: Basic income will spread worldwide by the 2030s

Ray Kurzweil Tech Insider

  • Basic income will be widespread by the 2030s, according to Google futurist and director of engineering Ray Kurzweil.
  • Kurzweil is known for making seemingly wild predictions. In 2016, he predicted that by 2029, medical technology will add an extra year to human life expectancies on an annual basis.
  • "We're going to have more and more powerful technology to keep our physical bodies going. We'll think, 'Wow, back in 2018, people only had one body, and they couldn't back up their mind file,'" he said onstage at TED.

As it becomes apparent that artificial intelligence will replace ever-more jobs in the coming years, a growing number of politicians, nonprofits, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have started thinking about how we'll cope with a world in which not everyone can — or needs to — work.

Basic income experiments, in which people are given a regular salary just to live, no strings attached, are popping up all over Europe, Africa, and North America.

At the 2018 TED Conference, futurist Ray Kurzweil made a bold prediction about the future of "free" money: "In the early 2030s, we'll have universal basic income in the developed world, and worldwide by the end of the 2030s. You'll be able to live very well on that. The primary concern will be meaning and purpose," he said onstage at the annual event.

It's no coincidence that this timeline also coincides with when Kurzweil, Google's chief futurist and director of engineering at Google Research, thinks AI will pass the Turing Test — when it becomes impossible to discern machine intelligence from human intelligence. At that point, human jobs could become increasingly sparse.

Kurzweil is known for making seemingly wild predictions. In 2016, he predicted that by 2029, medical technology will add an extra year to human life expectancies on an annual basis.

"We're going to have more and more powerful technology to keep our physical bodies going. We'll think, 'Wow, back in 2018, people only had one body, and they couldn't back up their mind file,'" he said onstage at TED.

In the case of basic income, the big hurdle isn't technology. It's political will. That, at least, is slowly emerging on a local level.

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