That limbo-like gap between manual labour and automation; We are Living it

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Today I was inspired to write this post after picking up a wet, torn and clearly undesirable (to one person) magazine off of my apartment buildings mailroom floor. The magazine is VICE, a free magazine with an online presence as well. The issue I found was “The Wall Street Issue” vol. 21 #12

It looked interesting and since I was being an “adult” – doing laundry, I thought the magazine wouldΒ be better company than my cellphone.

The first few articles were short and discussed interesting financial topics of different countries.One that stood out to me was titled “Money for Nothing in the Netherlands.”

This article informed me that The Netherlands were going to implement a system where those who are unemployed get – in basic terms – a monthly salary/allowance, without having a job… The reasoning behind is that manual labour jobs are becoming scarce and it’s all thanks to technology. Automation has rid the market of many jobs. I’ll quote the article’s research: “A recent Oxford University study predicted that almost half of all jobs may be automated within 20 years.” That, to me, is really freaking terrifying, 20 years, it isn’t a long time. Our society (in core nations of course, not peripheral or even semi-peripheral nations) is obsessed with technology and the idea of simplifying life; but what happens when life is so simple that we don’t need even need to be part of it.

*Cue the robot take-over-the-world scene…

Honestly, it’s an intense topic. I’d like to think that some jobs will always require human touch, but is that realistic for me to think? Surgery for example: machines are already performing some surgery. We’ve already been exposed to the self-checkouts at walmart, grocery stores and stores of the like, pay at the pumps, ATMs are even part of the problem, and telephones using numbers to communicate instead of speaking to a person directly. If this continues, then, yes, the article is right, we will have to accept that the reason people who aren’t working isn’t because they don’t want to, not because they are lazy, but because there simply aren’t any jobs.

If this is the case, if people start being paid to not work, what happens to society? What is our purpose, our contribution? Where does this end…

I know this post is filled with more questions and scenarios than thoughtful content, but it’s quite the curious place we find ourselves in. Where there is curiosity there is rarely a plain answer. This is just something that we will have to wait out. We think money rules everything now; it does. Will it remain so in 20 years? 50? A century from now?

Posted with love?

Ady

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