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The future of work

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The future of work is no work. Workers made of bits instead of human cells will occupy all the jobs. In the case of Uber, for example, “once you take the brain out of the driving, it’s just a person following a map,” explains the author Ryan Avent in his new book The Wealth of Humans.

The digital revolution is the modern day industrial revolution, except you can substitute big data and intelligent machines for human labor. Humans, like washing machines, are too abundant–supply exceeds demand.

People identify with their jobs, even if they hate them. Jobs not only give us a sense of purpose, they fill the day. No one wants to feel useless and bored. So it begs the question: when the machines are doing all the work, what are humans left to do? 

Avent believes the rich will be the only ones to hire human labor, as if humans become cherishable objects like vinyl. Perhaps more people will go into the arts and put on their philosophical thinking caps again–the last ‘metaphysical club’ met in 1872. Or will government prop up manual labor like it once did to regalvanize the American automobile industry? Anything is better than twiddling our thumbs. Says Avent:

“It is disappointing to think that we’d have to create make-work for people, but it may be the hard truth.”

The Next Industrial Revolution


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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of four books.

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