There’s an article discussing the way the world would look if future improvements in technologies eradicate the need for us to work. It’s nothing special. It’s reasonably positive about the outcome of such a thing. But, regardless of its merits, it does flag up something that seems to be entering the cultural lexicon more and more these days – a rabid discontent with what we have at the moment (failing economies, failing political systems, failing interest in working ever-longer hours for little or no extra reward, and other faily stuff), and the feeling that there should be a better way of doing things.
Now, my last post was all about the benefits of having time to think – and we’re not talking about 15-20 minutes spent pondering over a cup of coffee. We’re talking about day after day, until months and even years pass by, where we engage with the brain and have it working in far more productive ways than merely thinking about what new dress/tie/shirt/trousers/trainers/car/house/holiday/whatever to buy. To some that may sound a little scary. Many people cannot sit still, cannot stop talking for fear of the silence that fills the gaps between breaths, and may in fact choose to come up with the kind of argument that is situated within the above article and its readers’ comments section (always hilarious to read, as it shows how quickly we descend into aggression) – that we’ll all be poor and/or we’ll live in constant fear of crime and that we’ll all miss work because it’s such an integral part of our lives. Getting over that type of hysteria is required to think about the next level.
Now, as for the “cultural lexicon” bit, what is meant here is that there are interesting examples of conversations being had where the outcome of a shift in our society’s thinking is not yet fully formed – it’s more of a preliminary grabbing a blank canvas and kind of thinking about doing something with it at some point when you get a minute kind of thing as you’re busy thinking about many other things at the same time, to use such an analogy. Examples that have interested me recently are: #MrRobot; #RussellBrand; and #PeterDoherty, to name but three. Each one, though problematic, as such conversations are likely to be, speaks of a need to do things different to the way they are at the moment, and for that way to be better, fairer, more humanitarian in its ideals. Clearly, if you do the thing where you click the links that have been set up, there’s no single cohesive argument – but that’s the point. The conversations are starting to emerge.
The other side to the article in question, which engages with this kind of thinking from the reverse position, is that there is likely to reach a stage whereby the 1% of the 1%, let’s call them that just to be clear that it’s the very wealthy minority we’re discussing here, will have little or no need for a workforce. Now, though not one for conspiracy theories, there is the issue of what happens when the very wealthy have a workforce comprised solely of machines, along with a handful of skilled people (though that will only be a temporary thing) to service/repair the machines?
- Redistribute their wealth evenly in a fit of egalitarian passion? (Probably not)
- Invent simple tasks for the majority to do, in exchange for a small sum of money? (Probably not)
- Set about ridding the world of all the extraneous mouths, so that they can keep all of Earth’s natural resources for themselves? (You’d hope not, but…)
Whatever the outcome, and I’m gunning for a), you perhaps have to ask yourself the following question: is the fact that we possess and continue to build nuclear missiles a potential problem for the earth’s population when at the same time we seem to have just completed a kind of “beginners guide to gardening the earth seed-kit” (Svalbard), which exists deep beneath the earth’s surface, protected by the thickest concrete walls imaginable and that are designed to withstand nuclear annihilation?