Ray Kurzweil: The Future Offers Meaningful Work, Not Meaningless Jobs

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In a future where automation has taken most human “jobs,” will humans stop working? It all depends on how you define work, says Ray Kurzweil. He favors the idea of a universal basic income to cover the necessities, but he doesn’t think that means we won’t work.

We’ll just do more of the things we’ve always wanted to but didn’t have time.

“We really need to rethink what is it that we should be doing with our lives. We have a certain economic model where people work, and then they get money, and then they can buy the things they need,” Kurzweil says.

But what if we reversed that model, and provided enough income for everybody that grants the freedom to choose how we spend our time?

“If you’re going to work less you’re not just going to sit around. What are you going to do with extra time? Well, you’ll do something that you enjoy. That you have a passion for. Why don’t we just call that work?”

Once we no longer have to work to live—we can begin to live to work. And then we’ll be free to engage fully and unabashedly in passionate pursuits, regardless of income. Imagine the innovation and invention that might follow if our whole civilization pursued its highest aspirations instead of spending most of our time working for basic sustenance.


For years, Ray Kurzweil has been giving fireside chats at Singularity University. Now, some of his best questions and answers will be released every Thursday on Singularity University’s Ray K Q&A YouTube channel. Check back each week for the latest video.

Image credit: Trebz/FlickrCC

Andrew operates as a media producer and archivist. Generating backups of critical cultural data, he has worked across various industries — entertainment, art, and technology — telling emerging stories via recording and distribution.

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