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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

Chauvin trial leaves cities, activists across America on edge

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The impact of the Derek Chauvin trial is reverberating far beyond the walls of the downtown Minneapolis courtroom.

The state of play: With the trial set to enter its third week, activists across America are watching the proceedings unfold with heavy skepticism that what they perceive as justice will be served.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The dispiriting housing boom

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's a discouraging scene: Bidding wars, soaring prices, and fears that homeownership is becoming out of reach for millions of Americans. We're in a housing frenzy, driven by a massive shortage of inventory — and no one seems to be happy about it.

Why it matters: Not all bubbles burst. Real estate, in particular, tends to rise in value much more easily than it falls. Besides, says National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun, this "is not a bubble. It is simply lack of supply."

Updated 6 hours ago - World

China's COVID vaccines have low efficacy rates, official says

China Centers for Disease Control director Gao Fu at a March event in Beijing, China. Photo: Han Haidan/China News Service via Getty Images

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's director said Saturday authorities are considering mixing COVID-19 vaccines because the country's domestically made doses "don't have very high protection rates," per AP.

Why it matters: The remarks by the Gao Fu at a news conference in the southwestern city of Chengdumark mark the first time a Chinese health official has spoken publicly about the low efficacy of vaccines made in China.