Future Friday: The future of work is NOT leisure

This is not where the human race is headed.
This is not where the human race is headed.

There are a number of authors and others that see a dismal side to the increasing use of automation. One of these is Rice University computer scientist and director of Rice’s Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology, Moshe Vardi.  According to the author of How Will Humans Handle the Boredom That Comes with A.I. Taking Their Jobs? He clearly wants to know what the hell we’ll all be doing with ourselves in the future.” Liz Tracy, the author of the piece, says that Vardi has written a number of times that humans won’t handle leisure well. In his opinion “work is essential to human well-being.
I agree with Vardi, work is essential to well-being. I believe it is built in to our DNA. I also agree with Liz Tracy when she says that Vardi and the others like Elon Musk, are alarmists who are engaging in a little fear mongering. I don’t take that dismal view.

Humans are creative

To me the underlying assumption for a lot of these dystopian views is the assumption that no new jobs will be created to occupy humans. My point of view is that many jobs will be created as technology takes over the jobs we already know. As the human species progresses and loses jobs to automation we will create new and different things to do, to build, and to create. Those that write from a negative view point don’t allow for those tendencies.
I am an optimist. I don’t see the human species becoming what is pictured in the movie Wall-E, the fat, listless blobs of ectoplasm served by robots. Even in that cartoon they took some initiative in the end and came back to earth to repopulate and grow things.

Humans are resilient

People may lose jobs to automation. They have been doing that since the time of domestication of beasts of burden. They have always overcome those obstacles. People stay employed, for the most part, because they want to. The way I see it increased automation will not lead to the human race sitting on their fat keisters, unless they want to. Sorry to burst your bubble if you were looking forward to a world of leisure, that will only happen if you work for it first.

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