Ryan Avent appears to share my concerns about robots and work. Writing in the Guardian he warns “a world without work is coming – it could be utopia or it could be hell.”
It is rather telling that he lists some of the obvious problems with the upcoming robot nirvana, the biggest and most obvious being the simple fact that working for money is how most people pay the bills for the things that make life live-able. The other key point is that technology isn’t actually benefiting workers in terms of their share in the GDP. My personal experience is heavily weighted with evolving technology in the workplace and it seems relatively trivial to note that businesses employ technology to improve profit margins and not to pay staff more (which of course means less profits). Our faith in the economic mantra that technology ultimately means more work and more wages is definitely heading for a collision with a world where the first object of business is to make money.
Avent concludes “two centuries from now, I am confident, we will have worked everything out splendidly. Assuming, that is, that those of us alive now can manage the first painful steps without wrecking the world in the process” but if history is any guide, only a very optimistic person would believe those painful first steps aren’t going to involve some very extreme risks.