Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma says artificial intelligence could cut work week to 12 hours

Chinese e-commerce billionaire Jack Ma discussed the possibility of a 12-hour work week during an appearance with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai on Thursday.

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"For the next 10, 20 years, every human being, country, government should focus on reforming the education system, making sure our kids can find a job, a job that only requires three days a week, four hours a day,” Ma said, according to Bloomberg. “If we don’t change the education system we are in, we will all be in trouble.”

"I think because of artificial intelligence, people will have more time enjoying being human beings," Ma said.

The statement appears to be a 180-degree turn for Ma, who declared 72-hour work weeks "a huge blessing" in April.

Forbes estimates Ma's net worth at nearly $38 billion. He is chair of Alibaba, one of the world's biggest e-commerce companies, but is retiring in September.

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Ma shared the stage with Musk, who has been pursuing artificial intelligence through Neuralink, a company he founded in 2016. Musk has discussed his 80-to-90-hour or more work weeks before.

Work weeks vary largely from country to country. For example, South Korea passed a law cutting its maximum work week from 68 hours to 52 hours in July 2018, while most European countries cap work weeks at 48 hours, according to BBC.