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Ray Kurzweil (Photo: Bill Wadman)

Technology pioneer Ray Kurzweil predicted Friday that universal basic income, a controversial notion today, will be common throughout the developed world by the early 2030s and globally by the end of that decade.

Why it matters: With the combination of automation and artificial intelligence, there has been wide concern over how society will deal with massive job disruption.

Speaking at the TED conference in Vancouver, Kurzweil said that people will actually have more than their fundamental needs met through universal basic income.

"You will be able to live very well on that," he said.

Interestingly enough, the date Kurzweil picks for the advent of basic income is right about the same time he sees AI taking over. Around 2029, he has projected, AI will pass the Turing Test: a panel of human judges won't be able to tell whether the being they are conversing with is human or computer.

In the 2030s, he said, "we will merge with the intelligent technology we are creating." He said the human neocortex will connect with cloud-based intelligence. "We will have an indefinite expansion of our neocortex. "

That, he said, will lead to new forms of expression, such as music, that will be as different from today's communication as current human expression is from that of primates.

Asked how the U.S. and other countries would pay for a basic income, given existing large deficits, Kurzweil predicted that massive deflation would make goods much cheaper.

Separately: Kurzweil debuted a new Google project called "Talk to Books," a free tool that answers users' questions by finding the best answers from more than 100,000 books. Unlike traditional search, it is based on semantics, not keywords. Read more.

Go deeper

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

15 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.