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No More Work!

November 11, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Before I start this blog entry I should explain that you may notice a change in this blog starting today. My plan is to create shorter blog entries (because some people have mentioned having trouble reading to the end, and even losing the “will to live” half way!) and maybe do them a bit more often. So with that out of the way, let’s go…

Change is inevitable in modern society, mainly because of technological advances. But the people “in charge” of society tend to want to keep things as they are (because that’s the system they have done well in) and the “average person” tends to have difficulty appreciating that change will inevitably happen, maybe through pure lack of imagination.

So what is the specific change I am interested in? I think it is a change to at the very basis of our society: our system of work. I think we are heading to an era where work will be optional and people will only do the work they want to (in which case will it still be work?).

As machines can do more and more of the tasks previously done by humans this change will be inevitable. Currently we have avoided mass unemployment by creating more meaningless jobs (administration and management, for example), but this can’t go on forever. As less and less people do anything creative or productive the system will crash.

Work won’t go away because people will still want to do things. For example, I would write computer programs whether it was my work or not. But it will become more a recreational thing. Compare it to what happened to horses when cars became cheap and reliable. Horses didn’t disappear, they were just used for recreation rather than work.

Of course, this won’t happen tomorrow. There are still many things which machines can’t do, and even if that wasn’t the case our current preoccupation with “productivity” and “efficiency” will be difficult to overcome. But the change will inevitably happen anyway.

Societies with no work have been described in many works of science fiction, both in utopian and dystopian terms. Major societal changes do tend to be for the better, but this sort of change won’t be easy.

So that’s the end of this shorter entry. Did you get here OK?

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