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Jack Ma: Robots will improve the lives of human workers in these 2 ways

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has mixed feelings about the future. On the one hand, he is concerned about the number of jobs automation will take from humans. He predicts that the next 30 years will be "painful" for many.

But, he adds, for those who can adapt to the demands of the changing labor market by learning new skills, life won't be that bad. In a recent interview with CNBC, Ma outlines two ways he thinks automation will improve the lives of those who can keep their jobs.

Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba Group at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba Group at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

1) Less time spent working

"Believe it or not, I think in the next 30 years, people will only work four hours a day," Ma tells CNBC's David Faber, "and maybe four days a week."

That's a 16-hour work week. The billionaire sees it as the natural result of technology picking up more tasks humans once had to do. He notes that while his grandfather worked 16-hour days "in the farmland digging," he himself works eight-hour days and future workers will work only four-hour days.

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has made a similar point, arguing that automation will allow people more time for "interesting things" and leisure activities.

2) More time for travel

Because automation will reduce the number of hours humans have to work, people will be able to travel more. Ma says that today people visit an average of 30 places in their lifetime but in the future, that number may be as high as 300.

"I think the good thing," Ma says, "is that technology is going to improve people's lives."

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See also: What Mark Cuban, Bill Gates and others say you should study if you want a high-paying, robot-resistant job in the future