The Post-Work World

I can still remember when I visited the 1964 New York World’s Fair on my high school senior trip. It was a mesmerizing place unlike anything I had seen before. I especially remember the General Motors “Futurama” exhibit. It was about looking forward to the year 2000. I couldn’t imagine that far ahead, I would be an old man by then instead of a kid just finishing high school.

The exhibit showed us that robots would take over the mundane jobs so that it would not be necessary for any of us to work more than 20 hours per week. It would be like a four day weekend every week. Flash forward and much of what was in the exhibit was about has yet to materialize, but one thing that is quickly being realized is that robots are doing much of the work that was once necessary by humans.

But, instead of now celebrating that possible major accomplishment, many have come to fear it. They see themselves as possibly destitute and homeless because of it. They see the future as a “Mad Max” world. It is taking our jobs away from us. What a vast difference the mentality is today compared to that exhibit 50 years ago.

We will soon be at that point where we could realize the “20 hr work week”. Except for the last two and a half years, I am an optimist by nature. If our government puts the proper rules and regulations in place a 4 day weekend is certainly possible and I still have hope that that will happen. If not then the wealth imbalance will only get greater. If that doesn’t happen then the greed of Wall Street may just produce the world the fear mongers see.

2 thoughts on “The Post-Work World

  • I believe we already have a 20 hour work week. It is called the gig economy. Previously known as a part time job.
    The primary use of robots has been in manufacturing and warehouse supply. I watched it happen over a 40 year career. We can now do more with less people. The result has been fewer jobs and more profits into the pockets of the few.
    The government regulations mentioned would almost surely be some form of forced income redistribution. I have yet to see significant support for that, even among those that would benefit. Perhaps in another 100 years.

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    • Thanks for the thoughts Bob, Oh I think 100 years is a little too pessimistic for me?

      As for income redistribution, that has been happening for years now. It is just that with the recent ultra conservative governments we are taking some steps backward. We just need to admit that we don’t know it all and then try to learn from the rest of the world on things like universal healthcare and working hours. But I also see some of the progressive agenda like the attack on global warming, and others gaining ground. When the political pendulum starts swinging to the left again much of that will like happen. I think the millenials are like us baby boomers in that they will shape the world in a very different way than it is currently heading.

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