The End of Meaningless Jobs Is a Win For Us All

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Many experts studying the topic of automation believe that the current rate of advancement is leading us into a future with fewer and fewer available jobs.

Maybe that’s a good thing.

In his 2013 essay, “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs,” David Graeber argued that in the wake of automation, we created employment for employment’s sake, not necessarily to fulfill any significant task or purpose. In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that automation would create a 15-hour work week for everyone in Britain and the United States. Graeber argues that we failed to live up to this prediction, not because of a failure of automation, but because of the fear of the social effects that would occur when large numbers of people had large amounts of unstructured time.

In our current system, higher unemployment rates mean an unstable economy. We are constantly looking for ways to “put people back to work.” Oftentimes, however, the employment those people find is unsatisfying.

In 2014, the Conference Board Job Satisfaction Survey reported, for the eighth time in a row, that less than half of Americans are satisfied with their jobs.

shutterstock_193169300As technology progresses, indications are that “putting people back to work” will become less feasible. Economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee have charted what they refer to as “the great decoupling.” They have found that productivity, or output per hour of work, has quadrupled since 1947 in the United States while employment has not risen at nearly the same rate. What this means is that many companies are producing more goods and services without having to employ more people.

Other research suggests in the next 15 to 20 years, 45 percent of all existing employment will become automated. Even more startling, there’s little to suggest new jobs will be created at the pace necessary to compensate for this loss.

To date, a lot people had only two options for work: income and dissatisfaction, or no income and freedom. Neither of these are particularly appealing.

Larry Page offers a solution: “Work less,” which would certainly reduce the amount of time people spent on unsatisfactory jobs and provide more opportunities for people to pursue their true interests.

During a fireside chat as part of an Executive Program at Singularity University last November, Ray Kurzweil pointed out that with the advances in technology so far, “more people can do what they have a passion for,” as opposed to being locked into jobs that do not interest them or fully employ all of their potential.

Ray Fireside Part 7 from Singularity University on Vimeo.

Kurzweil himself is an example of this: “I have no intention of retiring anytime soon,” he says. “Or another way of looking at it: I actually did retire when I was five, and decided to do what I wanted to do.”

Automation can also provide part of the solution to the problem of income as well. As Kurzweil says, “I’m actually not worried about it because it’s going to ultimately be very easy and require a very small fraction of our output to support all the material needs of the human race.” This would require a lot less capital to achieve a high standard of living.

How we would get to that point is a topic of much debate, but if Kurzweil’s track record on predicting the future of technology is any indicator, it’s where we’re headed.

Moreover, if Kurzweil is representative of how even a fraction of people would fill their time when they are no longer engaged in meaningless employment, then the future seems likely to be filled with even more innovations and even more creative achievements. “Do you think innovation is going to stop?” asks Kurzweil. “It’s going to explode.”

If that prediction holds any merit, then imagine the leaps we would make if every 9-to-5 laborer who watched Star Trek growing up was working on making warp speed a reality.

This innovation isn’t restricted to the tech world either. As technology has replaced jobs requiring repetitive labor , we’ve seen an explosion in the diversity of creative output in the world.

There’s been an unparalleled rise in the variety of music genres created in the last 100 years, never mind the amount of actual music produced. More art exists in the world (and some of it actually good) than has ever existed. Fewer people behind a desk, or the wheel of a big rig, means more potential makers.

Automation certainly won’t mean the death of human work. In the best of all possible worlds, it will mean an end to work that is unfulfilling. For some that would mean time spent creating and inventing, for others that might mean a lot of time spent playing with all those new creations and inventions, which is kind of the point.

shutterstock_123603871Kurzweil is proof that passion produces productivity, as is almost every prolific artist, writer, musician and entrepreneur. Fulfilling work makes itself worthwhile. And usually it produces pretty amazing things. Not only that, but the ingenuity that makes automation possible will also make innovation better.

Karl Marx described his ideal society as one “where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wished… to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner... without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd, or critic.”

Automation allows for the possibility of exactly this type of diversification of interests, without the violence and upheaval usually associated with the attempts to get there.

Additionally, technology will only accelerate our capacity to pursue diverse of interests. The Internet has already democratized information, allowing many to become experts in fields in which they have no formal education or training. The future of technology may allow for each of us to become masters in many fields, expanding the abilities of our bodies and our minds.

It’s very difficult to actually predict what a world filled with people loosed from the reins of predefined labor could or would create; however, there is a lot to suggest we should be optimistic about such a transformative shift.

The developments and innovations produced by passion, and aided by technology, have stretched the imagination. From the realization of many concepts formerly considered science fiction, to the creation of new forms of art, we already stand in awe of what passion and innovation can achieve.

Just imagine a world where that output is expanded exponentially.

[images courtesy of Shutterstock]

Discussion — 37 Responses

  • Quantium April 1, 2015 on 8:17 am

    A lot of the “counting light bulbs” type of make-work is actually a form of taxation. People who wish to move house (in the UK) are obliged by law to offer the buyer of their old house an energy certificate, which involves someone with a qualification, that can be gained in a week’s study, counting light bulbs, heaters and so on and entering the totals into a laptop, which then prints the certificate.

    Of course this provides some relatively unskilled labour with an easy job and so takes them off the taxpayer’s list of benefit claimants. However people in jobs that actually created wanted products or information that has some value, such as designers, inventors etc., are having to subsidise these through the tax penalties levied on their jobs. In this case the “tax penalty” is an obligation to employ someone in this non-job.

    Maybe the future of jobs will involve far more “make-works”. If Bill Gates, for example, had all the money he has put into his Foundation taxed away, how many out of work people could be funded? Or to put it another way people could be paid the “citizen stipend” with it?

  • ideasware April 1, 2015 on 8:44 am

    Sadly, I think it’s horseshit. You can go on and on endlessly (and probably will do so, which is almost besides the point), but the billionaires are going to decide what’s actually important to us peons, and I’m afraid making our lives more meaningful is not on their agenda. Too bad, but that’s the honest truth.

    • Gear Mentation ideasware April 1, 2015 on 10:23 am

      Actually, the billionaires need us to consume… but they don’t need us to work.

      • John Daniels Riveros Gear Mentation April 1, 2015 on 5:55 pm

        well no they absolutely do need us to work. to date all value is still realized through human labor, unless youre aware of some strong ai managed, fully automated factory model sweeping the globe?

        maybe you dont identify as a member of the global working class, or at least any sort of international global community?

        and anyway, look at the actual numbers. the west, including the united states, still does a tremendous amount of industrial manufacture of durable goods and other products. we also produce a lot of agricultural products (where progressive automation is more highly visible by the public, in a sense).

      • darraghcarrick Gear Mentation April 4, 2015 on 2:53 pm

        True that the way i think of it is pure logic! Who’s going to be working for a lot less day in day out, robots and that’s hoe the big man is going to be getting more into his back pocket…..not by having to pay people a massive amount of money to people working if they could just pay a for a few robots do the job for pittance amount compared. I do really agree on his view on how life should be as we started as hunters and gathers! Venturing out into the unknown that’s life my friends! And i still wounder what it would be like to be in that day and age they were real time not this holy show of a life but in reality its what ever you make of it that counts! Make it worth looking back on that’s it

        • Quantium darraghcarrick April 5, 2015 on 2:43 am

          The problem at the moment is that inflation of housing costs has required people to work longer and longer hours. Politicians have encouraged this as inflation increases tax income, and mortgages discourage strikes, as strikes mean people lose their homes. The bubble may have burst at present, but inflation will be back I am sure.

          Also married couples both have to work. This has made looking after babies more difficult and has got politicians running around in circles trying to sort out the insolvable. Subsidise child minding or tax it? Force employers to grant paid leave to parents? None of this really works, so round and round they go.

          These problems, coupled with longer and longer commuting time, are causing the real working week to get longer and longer.

          If work becomes scarce, then the obvious solution seems to me to be job rationing. This may seem odd, but a progressive tax system (the more you earn the greater proportion is penalised by tax) is similar in financial terms. With job rationing, the child care problem goes away. Property price inflation will go away if no one bids for high price houses. There will be less money for politicians to do their social engineering, though. That is the sting.

      • William R. Dickson Gear Mentation April 5, 2015 on 2:50 am

        Frederick Pohl’s “The Midas Plague” explores this problem.


        Barely anyone is needed to produce the goods and services the world needs, but to keep the wheels of the economy turning, a certain level of consumption is needed. So people have consumption quotas; they’re able to buy whatever they want, but they MUST buy at an utterly ridiculous rate, or the economy fails.

        The problem created by automation is ultimately solved through automation, by programming robots to act as consumers as well as producers.

  • John Heim April 1, 2015 on 2:37 pm

    Sorry, but you are missing an important fact here. Many (maybe most) who are compensated unemployed now are not using their available time to improve their lives or contributions to humanity. They are becoming more of a drain on society. I’m not a religious man, but there is some metaphorical truth in the saying, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. The cynic in me fears that for every one person using compensated unemployment to improve the human condition, there will be 9 that use that time to increase obesity, drug addiction, sex addiction, crimes of frustration (such as vandalism and violence), etc. Hope I’m wrong, but we’ll find out, because we’re heading to that reality fast.

  • John Daniels Riveros April 1, 2015 on 5:56 pm

    the precariat is a very Marxian concept. so here’s a great article from a great neo-marxist magazine (Jacobin, you may have heard of them or read something by them) about four potential futures of full economic automation:

    • shnfy John Daniels Riveros April 1, 2015 on 6:52 pm

      Thanks for this link- it was a lot more thoughtful on the subject than this Kurtzweil fluff…

  • shnfy April 1, 2015 on 6:32 pm

    Kurtzweil continually fails to recognize the role that power plays in the organization and motivation of humanity, as if new technology is developed and deployed for the sake of everyone. The current state of political and economic affairs (let alone thousands of years of history) emphatically, empirically indicate otherwise. Major advances in science and technology have always been initiated and directed towards exploiting (if not murdering) more and more people, as well as all other forms of life and energy. Colonialism was not for the sake of improving the lives of colonized people, but instead to build violent, repressive empires and personal fortunes. The Manhattan project was not aimed at providing practically limitless energy to humanity, but instead at devising a way to murder millions of people with one bomb. The Internet was not funded by the Pentagon to unite humanity above nations, it was created so that strategic communication would be possible in the event of a nuclear apocalypse. DARPA doesn’t research humanoid robots so that we can all have personal robot slaves… People work lousy jobs because they are forced to, both directly and indirectly, and our labor is exploited by the rulers and institutions that seek to own and control us for typically short-sighted gain. Even if new technologies evolve so rapidly that they turn the current terms of political power up-sided down, the ‘will to power’ in humans will continue to drive us to dominate and exploit. How will ever more rapidly emerging technology effect that situation, Ray?

  • 邱峻翔 April 2, 2015 on 6:24 am

    Robots Will Steal Your Job, but That’s OK: Federico Pistono at TEDxVienna

    Think about it and what is the direction
    What is the nature of problem in our world and social?

    Zeitgeist : Moving Forward

    • Cody Carlson 邱峻翔 April 2, 2015 on 12:56 pm

      Right, I am actually a Senior Software Engineer at The Venus Project, whom The Zeitgeist Movement used to be the activist arm for (Peter Joseph of The Zeitgeist Movement, TZM, produced Zeitgeist Addendum and Zeitgeist Moving Forward).

      Our organization has been on top of this for the last 8 years, not to mention the founder, Jacque Fresco’s 7-decades of research into this (he just turned 99!).

  • ch April 2, 2015 on 7:04 am

    This is a very important topic and I appreciate that it’s being addressed. Maybe eventually as the author proposes we will work less and have more meaningful work… However, I agree more with Shnfy’s assessment. unfortunately.

    Those who will invest in automation will expect to benefit from it. With the exception of a few companies, who are led by a visionary, Corporations on the whole are not concerned with anything other than profits even if they tell you otherwise and so the notion that somehow we will all benefit with shorter work days and still afford to pay for basic living expenses is a bit too utopian in my opinion.

    The more likely outcome will be a painful transition of unemployment, more downward pressure for employees to work harder to maintain the jobs they have. Lost security and wealth of the working class as they spend their reserves to support their families and lifestyle.

    Governments are slow to change. Which means there will be a long painful period of adjustment and let’s be honest, the wealthy and powerful will do just about anything to maintain their wealth and power.

  • SweetDoug April 2, 2015 on 7:29 am

    Another ßµ££$ɧφ propaganda article on how great things are gonna be with all the robots, freeing us up, to pursue our ‘dreams’.

    No. Its. Not.

    The transition stage to a fully robotic society is going to be catastrophic, as the end phase will be a drastic depopulating of the planet as we simply don’t need all the people, who will be replaced by automation, AI, 3D printing, VR, AVR, and who knows what else?

    Nobody stood around and said, “You know, that there horseless carriage will free up those ponies to be able to do other things!”

    Real world result? Off to the glue factories, guys!

    Does anyone understand the idea of the deflation that’s going to descend upon the world for the next several decades, as ‘things’ just become worthless to produce?

    What are we going to do with all the people? How are they going to survive?

    We hear the magnanimous bleatings of guaranteed wages, but that ain’t happening! You think I’m going to work to pay you to sit around on your fat ass?! Not. Happening.

    You think countries like China will be so charitable to their people? Think Mao and the Great Leap Forward where they killed 10’s of millions.

    People are competitive. We’re not going to be sitting around singin’ Kumbaya. What do you think nasty little people are going to be like when they get their own AI’s, or cyclon robots?

    You competing with me and my business? I’ll simply send Gort over to your business and it’s curtains for you.

    You think I’m kidding? What am I, a jealous, selfish little business, going to do when I think you’re going to get robots and out compete me?

    What’s Putin going to do with drones, or Kim Jong Ill?

    And I’m not going to be buying your bead work or macrame owls either.

    Nope, just like a lot of us either aren’t smart enough to be data base programming coding types, maybe we just don’t want to be? What then?

    Some of us just like doing mundane tasks, like plumbing, or carpentry, work like that. It will be gone.

    If that prediction holds any merit, then imagine the leaps we would make if every 9-to-5 laborer who watched Star Trek growing up was working on making warp speed a reality.
    Not the ones that I have worked with!

    You want to see the future, with people unemployed? Look to the large metropolitan, inner cities, filled with urban decay and poverty and you’ll have the template.

    Think the worst sacks of beer drinking, addicted, fat, slovenly, TV watching, white trash.

    So what are we gonna do? Think bread and circuses, think Brave New World—— think soft tyranny, think mandated birth control, ‘cause I don’t want to pay for more of you morons, fornicating and contributing to the idiocracy!

    Most people can’t handle free time. Most people can handle being free.

    They need to be forced into, by social pressure, financial requirements, et cetera, a ‘job’ to soak up their time, or otherwise, they haven’t the ability to deal with ‘themselves’. The devil makes work…

    If you don’t like my comments, my attitude, you’d better pull your heads out of the collective… sand. Because this IS going to be what the attitudes will be and it will be what the world will be, under we depopulate rapidly.

    And we all know how that can occur, don’t we?

    Take a look around at the elite now: Met the new boss, same as the old boss. People are people.


  • tonycee April 2, 2015 on 7:37 am

    Unfortunately shnfy is right.

  • Cody Carlson April 2, 2015 on 1:13 pm

    I’m a volunteer Senior Front-End Software Architect & Engineer at The Venus Project (similar to The Zeitgeist Movement), and some analysts see a ‘Gaussian curve’ in our global economy. This trend suggests that we’ll see productivity curve radically upward, employment stagnate at a low, and purchasing-power curve radically downward. The system will halt.

    Between our coming crises — clean water 2020, Phosphorus in year 203X, soil, capacity, climate, etc — intellects like Michio Kaku, Steven Hawking, Andrew McAfee & Erik B. estimate about a century +- a decade for us to solve our challenges.

    The USDA and (many) other organizations have documented that there’s enough to go around and that Earth’s carrying capacity looks something like 42 billion, so it’s our economy’s lack of distribution & scaling that seems to be the issue.

    I implore you to check out The Venus Project (dot com) and watch the above mentioned video, Zeitgeist Moving Forward to see a high-level and techical plan for accomplishing this, as every human would be living to their highest potential with a standard of living much higher than that of any in our top “1%”.

  • Cody Carlson April 2, 2015 on 1:16 pm

    Find me on Facebook if you’d like to become a contributor 🙂

  • shnfy April 2, 2015 on 7:18 pm

    Please dispense with the delusional utopian (as well as dystopian) predictions (attn. Venus Project as well as those transhumanists, like Kurtzweil, who indulge in this sort of nonsense). If a technological singularity is unimaginable, then no one has a good plan for it- simple logic. No personal offense to anyone intended, because anyone who is grappling with these problems probably has something worthwhile to say about them. Sweet Doug couldn’t have said it any better though: “People are people.”
    There is really very little about our present crisis(es) that is new, except for the scale and the stakes. There has always been a crisis of one sort or another relating to society, technology, economics etc.. and always abunch of solutions. The best we have achieved were temporary patches, which always unfolded new dimensions to the same old problems. Its those old new-solutions that have accumulated and raised the stakes and the scale and brought us to the unmanageable situation were in today. Talk about accelerating returns…

    The blind refusal by people who know better (like Kurtzweil) to acknowledge that rampant technological progress is our greatest existential threat indicates that they know this, have given up hope, and as a result have retreated into infantile fantasies as a sort of intellectual and emotional defense mechanism. That actually compounds the danger of the situation and encourages more stupid and unethical applications of technology. It’s also a cop-out to blame the faceless elite, the extant military empire and even general human stupidity, but maybe less dangerous, and certainly less insulting.
    Bill Joy (the inventor of Java and many other major technologies) described our current/looming predicament, and called for scientists to put the breaks on… nearly 20 years ago:

    Well, obviously no one, including his friend Ray, listened, not that he really thought they would.
    The future really doesn’t need us, and I think that even Joy did us a disservice by punctuating his remarks with the hope of a neo-luddite rebellion from the top of the tower. There are no breaks. Eyes wide open or shut… up.

    • failcake shnfy April 3, 2015 on 2:26 am

      You’re neglecting the unknown unknowns. You’re writing as if you can predict the future. I urge you to be more humble.

      • shnfy failcake April 3, 2015 on 8:11 am

        ‘The future doesn’t need us’ was a reference to the letter Bill Joy wrote for Wired. No where have I predicted the future. Actually it’s the author of this article, S. Vollie Osborn, and Ray Kurtzweil who are doing all of the predicting. In and of itself that isn’t such a bad thing either, we need to predict possible futures around how rapid technological progress is affecting our existence, because we cannot afford to make as many mistakes as in the past.

        • Quantium shnfy April 3, 2015 on 9:31 am

          Quite so. In the mid 1970s people were predicting the end of commuting to work by 2000. Everything would be done by telecom.

          In reality, the forces that made so much possible by telecom had another effect. Extreme miniaturisation made it possible for people to carry an office in a shirt pocket, and economic failures have made the cost of housing near work impracticable. Commuting times have doubled and tripled since then. Indeed, it now looks as though people won’t own permanent homes in the future and will spend their entire lives on the move.

          But then, things could change again in an unpredictable manner.

  • ch April 3, 2015 on 4:27 am

    Shnfy, again I have to agree with you, mostly, however, you don’t appear to believe there is any hope which I have a problem with.

    Without hope and imagination what are we left with?

    The Venus project may be pie in the sky but its also focused on the issues and maybe will lead to solutions.

    • shnfy ch April 3, 2015 on 9:13 am

      Its not that I lack hope ch, but I definitely don’t care about sounding upbeat.
      Both doom-and-gloom and blind optimism do not address the issues, and are actually dangerous.
      The allure of AI managing our social, environmental and survival challenges stems from our awareness that the problems we create are already beyond our ability to fix. I don’t think AI is impossible, and Kurtzweil could be right about 2030 being the decade in which we spontaneously produce it with brain like computers, but the prediction is pure deus-ex-machina fantasy. Its as if they see the whole world as a play that has only afew possible conclusions, and they are all unbearable, so the playwrights would simply have God descend from ‘the cloud’ and set everything right. Except this isn’t a play. Kurtzweil’s prediction of a technological singularity on the other hand is not based in fantasy: advances in science and technology are already outpacing our ability to imagine the consequences in a timely manner, as well as the direction they will go in next. There will be a breaking-point, but we should not be overly optimistic about what happens leading up to it and afterwards. We should also acknowledge that since changes will be coming more and more rapidly, any new solution today will be obsolete tomorrow.

      In a very real way, its out of our hands and we should hope for the best but prepare for the worst with a sober understanding. I hope that we end up in a future of egalitarian abundance, which will probably have new much harder problems for us to solve together.

      Please read Bill Joy’s article from 2000…
      “We should have learned a lesson from the making of the first atomic bomb and the resulting arms race. We didn’t do well then, and the parallels to our current situation are troubling.” – Bill Joy

      “This is the first moment in the history of our planet when any species, by its own voluntary actions, has become a danger to itself – as well as to vast numbers of others.” – Carl Sagan

      • genidma shnfy April 4, 2015 on 2:23 am

        Off-topic , but there are two extremely important factors that perhaps no one has been paying attention to.

        1. The lack of complete transparency within the earthly construct and the risks that poses to the long term survival of the species.
        2. Chaos and the probability of chaos resulting into a man made extinction level event (ELE).

        Technology is growing on an exponential scale and it necessitates that we have visibility into every single facet relating to the earthly construct. Human or machine intelligence, we need the ability to the able to provision tools and processes that enable complete transparency.

        Lack of transparency leaves us vulnerable to the unknown. Such unknowns in a world, where we are unable to measure chaos on an individual or systems level is a recipe for a disaster.

        All it takes is one event. One single event that could wipe out all life as we know it.

        This could be one computer virus that takes us back to the stone age. Or it could be one deranged individual, not unlike how it had been hypothesized in Frank Herbert’s book ‘The White Plague’.

        Considering the increasingly destablizing state of the world today, the probability of any such event happening is increasing.

        And although all scenarios are equally scary. There is one scenario where a small group of individuals end up deciding the fate of the human race. Where they make the decision based on the information that they would have in front of them. A situation where the problems may be defined extremely crudely and poorly.

        Considering the risks we are facing, it becomes an imperative that we move towards becoming a completely transparent species. That includes, but it not limited to all information, knowledge and even thoughts. For the entire construct to become completely transparent, so that any risks can be predicted well in advances and that we then provision the means and capability in order to reduce man-made chaos to a bare minimum. Almost non-existent.


  • genidma April 4, 2015 on 2:24 am


  • TheFuturePrimative April 4, 2015 on 8:13 pm

    There have been a lot of these types of articles posted recently.

    A grim reality is all the economic propaganda issued by the current Administration and the Federal Reserve demonstrate there is no “Recovery” in the Globalized Economy. Wages are collapsing, inflation in basics is rising and all the debt overhung the consumer society will never be discharged, except through more war, revolution or runaway inflation.

    As the US 2016 election ramps up the Big Brains need to formulate “something positive” for the media to project.

    Ray can have all the Town Halls he wants. He (and his ilk) doesn’t ride the bus anymore.

    The core issue, the issue that must be addressed before all these ideas of Basic Universal Income, 15 hour work weeks and the Singularity itself, is that a Corporation IS NOT a Human Being. Unless and until that is a matter of Law and all the political inequity in the Advanced Industrial Societies is reset these Utopian tropes will be seen as cynical and self-serving.

    There are parts of the US that are the same as the so-called developing world and society is regressing. People do not know how to make things anymore. Technicians only plug their machines into other machines and go to the shelf to find a part and plug it in. Workers in the highest tech companies are not employees but contract labor – ready to have their access cards revoked before the email goes out. People are walking into fountains and lamp posts because there are disconnecting from reality.

    The power of the State and its Oligarchs and their Corporations must be reset so that the Human Spirit can make demands and take action.

    Regrettably, there are more parallels between post WW1 Germany and the modern US economy. The hungry, politically disenfranchised and purposeless will be looking for scapegoats; Bankers, Billionaires and Politicians.

    All the Googleplex trend monitoring,cyber-war info-injection, and locking everyone up in meta-Bastilles will not turn the tide.

    Technology does not alter human nature or history.

    Plan accordingly.

    • Quantium TheFuturePrimative April 5, 2015 on 2:27 am

      Unfortunately the professions also tend to work in the same was as you describe corporations. See Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene, chapter 12. Civilisation needs both, but without these positive feedback loops that generate bad results.

  • Stuart Dobson April 6, 2015 on 2:01 pm

    This article is full of optimism but fails to think about how this may come about. The technology is already at a point where this is possible, so why hasn’t it happened yet? The problem isn’t technology, our society is not built to allow this.

    More likely what will happen is devastating unemployment rates and all the problems that go along with it.

    We simply must decouple our survival from our employment first.

    • masterlock01 Stuart Dobson April 11, 2015 on 10:58 am

      Exactly. The article, as you say, fails to address how people will be surviving on 10-15 hour work weeks. The answer must inevitably be a Universal Basic Income, since consumption is the only thing that can perpetuate a mass-consumption economy. Read “The Lights in the Tunnel” by Martin Ford. He does a very nice job of framing the problem, and offering a solution.

  • Matthew April 6, 2015 on 2:07 pm

    everyone’s acting like there’s this nebulous finite amount of resources. people just don’t get that it’s a different economy now. we literally do not have to work anymore. all we have to do is mandate it through voting and legislation. certain corporations and countries all over the world are forcing corporations to provide living wages, forcing fairer taxes because there is now more than enough money for free education, healthcare, universal basic income, fairer wages, and dreaming bigger. and guess who benefits the most, the rich! except people have a higher standard of living and better human rights. life doesn’t need to be this hard. we just need to advocate more and vote more for these solutions. we could all retire in the next 3 presidential cycles if we advocated enough. it’s all about spreading the existing solutions and educating people that there is more money than ever. it’s really pretty basic. capitalism is becoming redundant as it explodes exponentially and everything can be automated. why consciously deprive people and ourselves? because of our fears?

    • masterlock01 Matthew April 11, 2015 on 11:12 am

      Of course resources are finite. There is only so much land, so much water, so much silicon, gold, oil, etc. These are all finite resources. Maybe someday we’ll all have Star Trek replicators, but we haven’t reached that point yet.

      And concerning your point about not having to work anymore. Yes and no. Yes, a Universal Basic Income would allow people the choice of not working, and that’s a good thing. BUT, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still work to be done. If people still want certain things, then clearly the work required to bring these things about must be performed. And machines aren’t yet capable of performing all tasks. So society as a whole still needs SOME amount of human participation in the form of work. And people willing to perform this work will enjoy a greater standard of living. So it’s a win-win.

      The problem is society is currently controlled by oligarchs. And those oligarchs will milk the rest of society for everything they’ve got. And ONLY when that is no longer possible, and their own wealth is threatened, will they concede to some kind of Universal Basic Income scheme.

  • Matthew April 6, 2015 on 2:16 pm

    these companies don’t have to have this much power over the GDP that the most highly educated (and disenfranchised) generation of worker/consumers this earth has ever seen. let’s bring back the power guys. and furthermore if we don’t get our sustainability issues in order than the real progress we have already seen could be jeopardized. human rights is better than ever. what we need to focus on is our sustainability before we jeopardize our already existing progress. so it all boils down to this: vote for politicians who actually vote (despite what they say) for advances in human rights and sustainability. we have all the answers we can see them in action elsewhere. it’s just a matter of changing the rules. I wonder how many here are part of the 50% of people who didn’t vote in the mid term elections that got republicans all of congress. well we have power beyond voting too. we also vote in what we buy, the information we share on social media, and the polarizing ideas we choose to succumb to in corporate controlled media instead of learning facts about existing solutions.

    • Quantium Matthew April 7, 2015 on 2:19 am

      > we also vote in what we buy

      I certainly agree with that one. Inflation wouldn’t happen if people refused to buy when prices rise. Of course there are some things one can’t refuse, such as taxes or services that have to be bought in order to remain compliant with the law.

      But one of the things that really drives inflation is house prices, and in addition people compete for housing based on what they can borrow and not what they can really afford. This is what makes economies unstable, because when various bubble burst people’s incomes fall and the fact that they can’t afford their mortgages cause repossessions and a falling property market. If people refused high prices, then this loop would be broken.

  • Unfabled August 1, 2016 on 8:37 pm

    Absolutely brilliant! “The end of meaningless jobs” signed by journalists and spokespersons (Kidding… sort of).

  • Quantium August 2, 2016 on 1:50 am

    People can chose whether or not to buy the results of work done by journalists. The real problem of “meaningless jobs” is that people are forced into buying the results of them, for example when moving home.