Elon Musk.
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  • Elon Musk said that with the rise of robots, universal basic income will be necessary in the future.
  • Musk is working on creating a robot that would do mundane tasks so humans don't have to.
  • This would take away a lot of service jobs, though, which is why humans would need guaranteed income.
  • See more stories on Business Insider SA's home page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is stepping behind the universal basic income movement because of the potential rise of robots - in fact, he's working on one himself.

During a presentation this week on artificial intelligence (AI) hosted by Tesla, Musk said he is working on creating a "Tesla Bot," or a robot that would do "dangerous, repetitive, and boring tasks" so humans don't have to. But Musk recognised that the creation of this robot might take the place of jobs that people are currently getting paid for, which is why he said a guaranteed income will likely be necessary in the future.

"Essentially, in the future, physical work will be a choice," Musk said during the presentation. "This is why I think long term there will need to be a universal basic income," he added.

See also | New govt proposal: Pay every South African an income grant, then tax it back from the rich


Musk said that the robot will be "friendly," standing at a height of 1.7m and reaching speeds up to 8km per hour. But if its creation goes to plan, it will take many people's jobs.

While Musk's robot has not yet taken over, businesses in some countries have turned to automation rather than paying humans for work. For example, Insider previously reported that restaurants in the US struggling to hire workers for months, they have turned to QR codes where diners can view menus, rather than having a waiter bring them one.

In South Africa, Shoprite this week revealed it is testing a cashier-free shop using AI and machine vision to track what customers take.

See also | Checkers just revealed a shop without tills, run on AI and machine vision

If this trend continues, it's likely that universal basic income will become a larger part of the conversation. Some cities have already started testing out pilot universal basic income programs for targeted groups of residents, and California recently launched America's largest statewide universal basic income program prioritised for pregnant people and those ageing out of the foster system.

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