BEIJING – Jack Ma, the Chinese technology billionaire known for arguing for a 12-hour work day, sees a future where people only have to work 12 hours a week.
The founder of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba said Thursday that technological advances would allow people to live longer and work far fewer hours.
“Every technology revolution is starting to worry. Over the past 200 years, we have worried [that] that new technology will take away all the jobs, ”he said in a discussion in Shanghai on Thursday with Elon Musk, Tesla's billionaire founder. Tesla is building an electric vehicle factory in the city, and the two were on stage at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference there.
Ma has previously highlighted controversy with her endorsement of "996" practices that are widespread in China's technology industry, where employees are expected to work from 9am to 9pm, six days a week.
In comments earlier this year, Ma Ma said that the opportunity to work such hours was a "blessing" and that without this type of work culture, China's economy was "very likely to lose vitality and momentum."
Another technical titan went on to declare that the 996 culture was too slender. Richard Liu, CEO of rival e-commerce company JD.com, said he is working “8116 + 8” – or from 4 p.m. 08:00 to 11:00. Monday to Saturday, then only eight hours on Sunday.
But talked to Musk on Thursday, Ma said that in the future people could enjoy a much shorter work week.
"Over the next 20 to 30 years, humans will live much longer. Life science technology is going to make people live probably 100 or 120 years," he said. "It can't be a good thing because you get grandfather's grandfather still working hard. "
But it didn't matter, he said, since the world wouldn't need many jobs.
" I think people should work three days a week, four hours a day, "she said he cited earlier technological leaps such as the industrial revolution and the use of electricity to improve work-life balance.
"The power of electricity is to give people more time, so you can go to karaoke at night, you can go at dance parties at night, "he said in English.
" I think because of artificial intelligence, people will have more time to enjoy being human. I don't think we will need many jobs, "Ma told Musk. “The jobs we need are [ones to] making people happier. People experience life, enjoy [being] people. ”
China's netizens were not impressed.
"Ma has said before that 996 was a blessing. How can he say that people can work three days a week, four hours a day and go to karaoke or dance parties at night, ” asked a person using the nickname“ Be a friend with time daily ”on Weibo, the Chinese the version of Twitter.
"Previously, he spoke in Chinese about 996. That's something for us. This time he said "three days a week, four hours a day" in English. It's for foreigners. "
Another, who used the name" Soda water ", used a Chinese saying that means two things don't fit together:" Musk will find that this dialogue is like putting a donkey's lips on the horse's mouth. ”
Liu Yang contributed to this article.