Elon Musk Shares Unconventional Views on Future Jobs, Biden’s 100% Chinese EV Tariffs

"If you want to do a job that’s kind of like a hobby, you can do a job."

Elon Musk
Elon Musk speaks at the Milken Institute’s Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton Hotel,on May 6, 2024 in Beverly Hills, Calif. Apu Gomes/Getty Images

Elon Musk believes that, in a future where artificial intelligence and robots can provide pretty much anything to keep society running, the notion of a job will more or less become a hobby and no one will ever need to work for a living. “Probably none of us will have a job. If you want to do a job that’s kind of like a hobby, you can do a job. But otherwise, A.I. and the robots will provide any goods and services that you want,” the Tesla (TSLA) CEO said during a virtual keynote at VivaTech 2024 in Paris yesterday (May 23).

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Musk launched his generative A.I. startup, xAI, last summer. His Tesla is also investing heavily in developing A.I. capabilities to power its autonomous driving technology. The entrepreneur, who is also a co-founder of OpenAI, has been outspoken about his concerns around the rapidly advancing technology. He’s said one reason he founded xAI is to counter the increasingly monopolistic influence by Big Tech companies like Google and Microsoft (which has a huge stake in OpenAI), which he believes are too focused on profitability and don’t care enough about the safety of A.I. applications.

During yesterday’s keynote, Musk cited the science fiction series “Culture Book” by Ian Banks as “the best envisioning of a future A.I.” The sci-fi series describes a utopian, multi-planetary society run by superintelligence A.I.

“I’m in favor of no tariffs and no incentives” for EVs

During the Q&A session following his keynote yesterday, Musk was asked for his views on the Biden Administration’s recent announcement of a 100 percent tariff on electric vehicles imported from China. (With the new measure, the total tariff to be imposed on Chinese EVs would be 102.5 percent.)

Musk’s Tesla has a Gigafactory in Shanghai, which supplies China and some overseas markets. The new tariffs won’t affect Tesla cars sold in the U.S., which are manufactured in California. In fact, some industry observers believe the tariffs could benefit Tesla in the U.S. by fending off potential Chinese competitors.

“Neither Tesla nor I asked for these tariffs. In fact, I was surprised when they were announced,” Musk replied, adding that he’s in favor of no tariffs and no incentives for electric vehicles—or for oil and gas.”

China is Tesla’s largest market outside the U.S. Its mass-market Model 3 and Model Y are consistently among the top-selling EVs there. Musk said Tesla “competes quite well in the market in China with no tariffs and no deferential support.”

The Biden Administration slapped the unprecedentedly high tariffs earlier this month in a bid to stop Chinese EVs, many priced significantly lower than U.S. alternatives, from flooding the U.S. market and taking away market shares from homegrown automakers.

Musk has warned about the threat of Chinese EV makers to Western carmakers. On Tesla’s earnings call in January, he said Chinese EV makers “will pretty much demolish most other companies in the world” if there’s no trade barriers.”

Elon Musk Shares Unconventional Views on Future Jobs, Biden’s 100% Chinese EV Tariffs