Nearly half of Americans support the idea of universal basic income for workers who are replaced by robots.
A new survey by Northeastern University and Gallup found that 48 percent of Americans like the notion of universal basic income program that would guarantee a minimum income for workers who lose their jobs because of advances in artificial intelligence (AI). Fifty-two percent oppose the idea.
American Enterprise Institute economist Aparna Mathur chalks it up to the challenges that we're seeing in the labor market and people unsure of what the future holds.
"The fact that we're seeing all these jobs being automated away, technology coming in. We're talking about artificial intelligence displacing workers from jobs," she observes. "And I think it's sort of this reaction to, How do we help these people? You know, they won't have jobs, so work is not an option and let's just give them more money."
But that is the wrong response, she says, because people who need help can get it by improving the existing programs.
"We have a multitude of them who are trying to address the problems of people in need," she observes, "but it doesn't take us away from the larger goal of trying to help these workers back into jobs, of trying to train them for the technologies of the future."
Among other findings in the poll, 46 percent said they would pay higher personal income tax to support a universal income, and a whopping 80 percent said companies should pay higher taxes to fund such a program.