Do while technology has increased the levels

Do
something with your life. How many times have young people heard this sentence?
Usually, it is casted towards someone that does not work. It implicitly conveys
that working is something desirable just for the sake of doing it, without
actually  mattering what you work on.
While work provides an income to live, it also keeps you busy and literally
ensures you have something to do. However, this view assumes that the person has
the option to work. What if this situation would not be  common, but rather the exceptionajm1 . What if work does not provide us anymore with the
ability to do something with our lives because we are not able to find a job?

Robotics
and automation are the main threats to what is understood as work today. The
skeptics about the causal relation between automation and unemployment base
their arguments in what is known as the Luddite fallacy 1. It mainly
states that while technology has increased the levels of productivity, it has
not destroyed employment. Instead, it has created new jobs that have resulted
in an increase on the net employment. However, the reason behind this argument
fails to account for the basic
principle in finance: past performance is not an indicative of future
results. Moreover,
the skills that will be needed in the future will be harder to train as they
will require more cognitive capacity and will not be easily learnt ajm2 2. For
example, automated cars are very likely going to be a reality in the nearby
future. They will gradually take over jobs of taxi and truck drivers, which in
the US alone represents approximately three and a half million workers 3. It is
quite unlikely that in the short term all this workforce can be trained to
carry out more cognitively demanding tasks.

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The
opinion that the Luddite fallacy may not be a fallacy anymore has the support
of the majority of the scientific community. There are quantitative studies
that have detected the already large negative effects of robots on employment 4. In fact,
some studies also show that since the incorporation of technology the actual hours
worked per person has decreased. This view proposes that the Luddite fallacy
has never been true, instead, the increases of productivity of technology have
allowed for lower workload per workerajm3  5.

There
is no clear agreement on  the effect and
the speed of job destruction. However, as Bill Gates put it in his book The road ahead, humans always
overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate
the change that will occur in the next ten 6. Assuming the
truthfulness of  the hypothesis that in
the future there will be massive unemployment, it would be wise to have a reaction
plan. Governments, citizens and corporations have the responsibility to start
thinking about how to organize future societies so they do not collapse when the
time arrives.

In
this essay, the focus will be on understanding how humans can give meaning to their
life in a post work society. First
the basis on how to provide the fundamentals to seek meaning to all humans will
be discussed followed by how can meaning be achieved in a post work society. ajm4 ajm5 

A
LOOK TO HUMAN NEEDS

In
A theory of human motivation, Abraham
Maslow writes about the hierarchy of needs 7. He proposes
the theory that the growth of each individual is conditioned to a set of
stages. These hierarchies are  labeled as
physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization. Each of them
is interrelated to the others rather than clearly separated. However, meeting
the former needs is a condition to fully achieve the latter ones. To give an example,
a person without a home, that suffers hunger and feels insecure will not actively seek
to meet the latter stages of the pyramidajm6 .ajm7 

A
salary, understood as the compensation for your work, is how most of the
population covers the first two needs. However, in a jobless society this
solution would no longer be possible. Furthermore, due to a growing population
in the world 8, the
resources needed to feed everyone will increase. Thus, the total population to
feed will increase while the mechanism to grant the distribution of food may
fail as people will not be able to work for a salary. And it is not only an
issue with food, but also with water, electricity, housing and other basic
needs. General theory of economy  states that increases in productivity have resulted
in the growth of the economy, and most of the times, in an increase of
wellbeing 9. However, the
main issue is that growth is not equally distributed among all citizens of the
world. A study done by UNESCO shows that 82% of wealth growth in 2017 went to
the one percent richest.ajm8 

In
a fully automated world, these discrepancies in the wealth distribution would
even be more accentuated. If continuing like this, we would see a future where
a few own everything and the mass owns nothing. However, as J. Stiglitz mentions, “Inequality has been a choice, not an unexpected,
unfortunate economic outcome ” 10. Fixing
the inequality gap may be key to maintain a stable society in the future.

In
general terms, people in a society can be ownersajm9  of capital and means of production, skilled and
unskilled. Automation in the short term is going to leave a big portion of the
unskilled unemployedajm10 . Moreover, in the  longer run, the skilled would also be
threatened as it is projected that automation takes jobs such as doctors,
engineers or even programmersajm11 .

Keeping
this system as it is has two main problems, both related to the increase of
unemployment. The first one is that the amount of people that see their basics
needs getting  threatened increases. This
can generate huge amounts of frustration and revolutions against the rich. The
second is that there is  a decrease in
the number of consumers, and thus, the increase of productivity that the
automation produces cannot be sold or distributed if the system stays as it is.ajm12 

CHANGE
ON PRODUCTIVITY IMPACT

In
our current society, gains from productivity growth go to shareholders and managements
of corporations. It is proven that a connection between growth and number of
jobs exist. If the economy is not growing at least at a rate equal to the
increase of productivity, unemployment increases ajm13 11ajm14 . However, the growth of productivity distributed in an
unequal way does not profit the whole society, just the owners of the
companies. A desirable model would be a model where the increase of
productivity is hashed between both society and shareholders. The value created
for the society should at least  outweigh
the value destroyed by unemployment.

J.R.R. Tolkien simplifies this powerful idea: “If more of us valued food and cheer and
song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”. ajm15 The idea just mentioned is far from communism. The
main point is that granting a stable society is also a requirement for  the rich to find meaning in their life. And to
achieve this, part of the personal wealth gathered through technology has to be
shared.

However,
once the basic requirements for all individuals in society have been met,
meaning has to actually be found. Nowadays, an active person spends an average
of twenty per cent of its’ time working 12. If people
are not provided the tools and guidance to fill the time which used
to be spent at workajm16 , there may be a major societal and existential crisis.

REDIFINING
MEANING

Work
has been a main pillar in developing all the stages of the Maslow pyramid. In
reference to the first two, work provides a salary that allows to cover for
basic needs. Besides, it helps develop the last three. Firstly, it provides a
sense of belonging to a collective. Secondly, it gives a sense of valuation and
recognition to the individual for the task he carries out. Lastly, it provides
space to develop and accomplish full potentialajm17 .

In
the future, finding work could not just be hard , but impossible. In some
cases, machines and robots will do the jobs so precisely and safely that humans
will be forbidden from doing that job. Let’s imagine a truck driver that experiences
 joy and finds meaning doing their job.
Because of automation and the fact that autonomous vehicles are way safer,
regulations may forbid him to  drive. Not
even if he would be willing to do the job for no remuneration.

Without
work and having the two first stages covered, the question that remains is how everyone can find meaning in life. ajm18 The central idea of this essay is that the  same technology that may bring the end of
work, may ease the access to meaning. As of now, it is unclear that technology
will bring new ways to give meaning to life. What technology may bring is new
ways of perceiving and obtaining meaning. Taking advantage of technology to enhance
the current ways of getting meaning may be a solution to cover the void the
lack of work will create.

For
example, in the area of leisure, technology is easing the access to it. It enables
people to be more globally connected. In the recent years, videogames and
social media
have experienced an incredible growth.  ajm19 People
are building digital identities that provide them the opportunity to be part of
communities and share interests.

Another
area where technology is fostering growth is in craftmanshipajm20 . Technology has given people new tools to be creative
and has made artisanship more accessible 13.
There
has been a rise of makerspaces, places where people gather and create things that
bring them joy. In addition, technology has led to an increase in  entrepreneurship just for the meaning it
provides to see the product of your own work.ajm21 

Technology
will also facilitate increasing the quality time spent with your  loved ones. Firstly, time which used to be
spent at work, will be freed up. This will allow us to increase the time spent seeing
our children grow and giving companionship to our elderly. Secondly, the most
exhausting tasks of personal  care, such
as cleaning or feeding those in need, will be done by automated robots.

Several
other aspects can be discussed, but these examples are a good reflection on how
technology can enhance the realization of meaning. It is important to note that
only one of these ways of achieving meaning may not be enough. It is hard to
imagine someone that is only playing videogames all day to find meaning in their
life.

TRANSITIONING
TO THE FUTURE SOCIETY.

It
is important to be aware of both the benefits and problems technology can
bring. In
the book Brave New World, the author
presents a society where free time is filled with just entertainmentajm22 . This way of living seems void of meaning and
unrealistic. However, it has been proven that unemployed people in the US are the group that
watches moreajm23  hours of television. ajm24 From this observation, it would be wise to be aware
that people without motivation may not try to find meaning by themselves.

Furthermore,
resistance from the major part of the population should be expected. Big
changes like the ones discussed   can be difficult to understand, and thus,
people may feel fear. Communicating clearly why everything is done and listening