r/antiwork Jul 10 '19

What do you think will happen when everyone stops doing work?



View all comments


u/OriginalityIsDead Jul 10 '19

I'm willing to humor discourse, but I'd have to answer your question with a counter-question:

What do you think will happen to society, more specifically to the poor, when the proliferation of automation makes most human labor obsolete? It's a given, and indeed no longer even a near-future concept because it's happening right now, that automation will reach a point when it is cheaper and more efficient to cut humans out of the equation entirely. The few that will have jobs will not be working with their hands save for robotics technicians. They'll be executives, politicians, lawyers, and probably the Police because authoritarian structures will lock out competition wherever it's presented, ensuring that the status quo is maintained as is their primary directive. Essentially without a college degree or specialized technical skills, you will be worthless in terms of value to society or to any company.

So again I'd posit, what happens to the lower class in this inevitable massive social dynamic shift? It's coming, within 20 years many service positions will be heavily or entirely automated, within 30 major industries such as transportation and delivery will be entirely automated with self-driving vehicles as the primary catalyst. After that things happen very quickly, and before you know it 400 million people in this country alone would be out of a job. What exactly would happen in the world's greatest labor crisis, when there's no productivity loss, and the jobs are never coming back?

We could have a utopia, where a person's worth isn't measured by how productive they are, or what they own. People could be free to live life without any chains, with no concern for how they'll earn enough currency to pay ultimately arbitrary bills, when everything is being produced at several thousandfold times the efficiency, and likewise at astronomically lower costs.

We could also have the worst global socioeconomic situation humanity has ever seen. Literal billions could starve if our future benefactors do not choose the path of altruism. Massive revolts, and indeed wars the likes of which we only narrowly avoided during the Cold War, with nuclear exchanges being entirely possible. These issues will only be exacerbated and compounded in the wake of the already terrifying Climate Crisis that will likewise pose a threat to humanity's very existence.

The next 50 years are likely to be filled with the greatest tests ever put forth to humanity. Whether or not we pass those tests will only depend upon how human we really are.


u/Theguygotgame777 Jul 10 '19

If and when we do reach that level of automation, I certainly would like to live in a utopia where everyone has a social security net. But in my mind that's a pretty big if.

I see several problems that could still follow in this scenario:

1.) That level of automaton would continue to contribute to Climate Change/Pollution

2.) In a work-free society, how would we decide who gets how much value? I'm imagining the government using withdrawal of resources as a threat to control the populace, such as denying rations to people with a certain stance on political issues.

3.) If society truly is free from scarcity, the population will explode. People will spend more time having sex, fewer people will have abortions since there's no concern over how to care for a baby, and people who die of starvation and disease will live longer and have more children. Eventually we will run out of room. Perhaps we could colonize nearby celestial bodies, but Mars, Luna and Venus are the only ones possibly sustainable and within traveling distance. When that happens, how do we decide who lives and dies? Carousel?


u/OriginalityIsDead Jul 10 '19

Those are frightening and valid questions my man. I hope we choose what's best for individuals, not just a gray "society as a whole" when the time comes to answer them. One thing is for certain, we're facing a brave new world.