A Jobless World

A Jobless World

How does society change when there aren't enough jobs for anyone? This video got me thinking about the implications of automation. Pretty soon jobs that employ thousands and probably millions will be done by algorithms and machines instead.

For most of human history, we've had specific roles or jobs in society. These jobs required specific skills and met the needs of ourselves and others. But we always seek efficiency of our processes. We rode horses because it was more efficient than walking. We stopped being hunter-gatherers because farming was a more efficient lifestyle.

Automation is just a new level of efficiency and I think that's what makes it inevitable. Just as in the past we will always (eventually) choose the best method to get things done.

This time it feels different though. It feels like automation could potentially replace every job. Are we in for a future divided into the extremely wealthy few and impoverished and unemployed masses? If we're no longer needed to create wealth then what purpose will most of us serve?

I think there are two likely paths a jobless world can take:

1. Freedom

Governments could start basic income programs and provide for our basic needs based on the wealth generated by automation. We'd be free to pursue our own interests whatever they may be. Without a job, we'd each to have to find a new purpose. Some might choose to create, some might choose to explore.

2. New Jobs

This is what I believe is most likely. In the past, when jobs were made redundant by technology eventually new jobs arose and took their place. They probably didn't employ all the same people, but they offset the loss in jobs. Maybe similar will happen in the future. These jobs usually aren't foreseen by the current population. Who would've predicted software engineers or social media influencers?

In the near future, there are a few fields I don't think algorithms can dominate. Art, entertainment, care, & education. They all are more abstract fields where our current AI tech would struggle to operate at the same level as humans. Maybe we'll see more people pursue those fields as demand increases.

What do you think a jobless world will look like?