Zeynep Tufekci’s scathing response to the establishment consensus that tech will create new jobs to replace the ones we’ve automated away makes a lot of good points.
I thought about this a lot when designing a future society for my web comic. There comes a point in automation, probably sooner than we think, when work as we know it isn’t really necessary… what do people do then?
This is one of the things we discuss on the Post Atomic Horror a fair amount — the utopian society depicted in Star Trek is one in which nobody is required to work. (This is less to do with automation and more to do with the fact that they have effectively unlimited power sources and the technology to replicate resources and luxury from scratch.) We’ve never really been clear on what people are supposed to do in a civilization like that. Since the shows pretty much only follow people who volunteered to be explorer/soldiers, we really have almost no idea what the vast majority of people do with their time. It’s one of those things that we probably spend far too much time thinking about and discussing, but it really is fascinating to us.