Gallup poll: Americans split on universal basic income for workers displaced by AI
The American public is split on the prospect of giving a universal basic income to Americans who lose their jobs to artificial intelligence, according to a new poll.
In a Gallup and Northeastern University poll released Monday, 48 percent of those surveyed said they would support a universal basic income (UBI) compared to 52 percent who said they would oppose it.
There was a large difference in responses based on respondents’ political identification.
Of respondents who said they are Democrats, 65 percent said they would support UBI, while only 28 percent of Republicans said they would support the measure.
Support for UBI also varies by gender, age and education levels.
Of the men surveyed, 43 percent would support the UBI while 52 percent of women polled said they would back it.
Younger Americans, aged 18-35, are most likely to support UBI, at 54 percent, while only 38 percent of respondents 66 and older supported UBI.
Those with bachelor’s degrees are more likely to support it, at 51 percent, than those without, at 42 percent.
While many Americans are divided on UBI as an answer to the potential economic harms of automation, they are more in step with who would have to pay for UBI measures if enacted.
Forty-six percent of those polled said they would be willing to pay higher taxes to fund UBI.
Those polled, however, expressed overwhelming support for companies paying this type of “robot tax,” with 80 percent saying that companies benefitting most from the AI should help cover the cost of a hypothetical UBI.
UBI, which only several years ago was floated as a fringe idea, has gained increased support as the potential for job displacement becomes more real with the proliferation of AI.
Technology CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff have argued that a UBI could be useful.
Bill Gates has specifically argued for a “robot tax” on companies who replace human workers with AI.
Major politicians like former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have expressed interest in the policy.