Tech Transformers

Mark Cuban: Basic income ‘the worst possible response’ to job losses from robots

Universal basic income (UBI) is "the worst possible response" to the unemployment likely to be caused by robots and artificial intelligence, business mogul Mark Cuban has said, putting himself in stark contrast to the growing chorus of major technology CEOs who back such a policy.

On Monday, the Dallas Mavericks owner tweeted his concern about job losses as a result of technology and said "we need to prepare for it."


Scott Santens, a basic income advocate and writer, replied to Cuban's initial tweet asking him whether he agrees with the idea of UBI. The billionaire said it was one of the "worst possible responses."


UBI is a policy in which governments pay each citizen the same amount of money regardless of whether they are working or not. There are many theories about how this could work in practical terms. Countries such as Finland are already trialing schemes.

Mark Cuban
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Advocates of UBI say it's a better option than the current system of welfare in many countries and does not disincentivize people from working. Santens tweeted an infographic in which he showed entrepreneurship jumping as a result of UBI. In his tweet, he said Namibia saw self-employment jump 301 percent when given basic income, while in Liberia, a third of recipients started their own business. Santens cited various studies that he has compiled on a Reddit page he runs as the source of his data, in a tweeted response to CNBC.


Cuban said he has spent a "lot of time looking" at UBI and he doesn't see the countries that Santens has listed as "being apples to apples". The entrepreneur also said that countries have existing safety net programs "that need to be more efficient so more money can be distributed with far less overhead". Santens replied that current welfare measures "create disincentives" for people to work, which Cuban said "can be fixed".

Cuban's tweets on technology and job displacement highlight that the business giant is thinking more about these issues. The "Shark Tank" judge is an investor in large technology companies including Amazon and Netflix.

But his views on UBI are in contrast to a growing chorus of voices in the technology industry. Salesforce Chief Executive Marc Benioff recently warned of AI creating "digital refugees", while Tesla founder Elon Musk said a basic income would be "necessary" in the future.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank," which features Mark Cuban as a judge.