Middle-class workers could be employed by AI: Robert Reich

Artificial intelligence will create a new system that could drastically transform the employer and employee relationship, according to former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich.

In an interview with CNBC, Reich discussed how AI will have a profound impact on middle-class workers, creating an impetus for a universal basic income. The University of California at Berkeley professor also explained that growth is a necessary step to reach environmental goals.

“We’re going to be working for AI, intermediaries and platforms. Those intermediaries and platforms are going to be paying us a kind of spot auction rate. … You might say that that’s very efficient, but it is also extremely destabilizing in terms of our lives. I mean, how can we possibly plan our lives if we are in a spot auction market in terms of what we earn,” said the author of “The System: Who Rigged It, How To Fix It.”

Reich said that AI will increase efficiency and productivity, pressuring the advent of a universal basic income to fuel the economy.

“People have got to have enough money in their pockets to buy all of the things that the new economy is capable of producing. If you’ve got AI and all of these platforms and you’ve got people who are basically no longer needed, huge numbers of people, then how do you get money in their pockets to buy everything the economy is capable of producing? You simply can’t have an economy under those circumstances,” he said.

Reich is also confident that slowing growth is not the answer to solving climate change.

“Growth is necessary in order to meet our environmental goals. It’s rich countries that are able to be environmentally responsible because they have enough wealth. They can invest in wind and solar and adaptation mechanisms. It’s the poorest countries that are having the most difficulty adjusting,” Reich said.

Watch the video above to see the full interview.