Work, leisure, and AI.
March 26, 2013 6:33 PM   Subscribe

Rule No. 1 is tomorrow we die; and Rule No. 2 is nobody, not even the most helpful robot, can change Rule No. 1. The Barbed Gift of Leisure in The Chronicle Review looks at how robots, by replacing our need to work, can change our relationship with leisure. The problem with robots is that (1) they are scary and (2) if you don't have to do any work, your ability to enjoy your time-off dissipates. It's nothing that Veblen, Marx, and Debord didn't anticipate.
posted by stinker (56 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
More leisure time means I have more time to build the things I want to build instead of the things Capital insists I build.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:59 PM on March 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


I hereby volunteer to test part (2) of your thesis. If you can't think of how you'd occupy your time without work, your problem isn't a lack of work, but rather a terrible paucity of imagination.
posted by sourcequench at 7:00 PM on March 26, 2013 [39 favorites]


I am reminded of Tevis' novel, Mockingbird.
posted by jadepearl at 7:09 PM on March 26, 2013


The point stinker is making, though, is not how you might fill your time if you didn't have to work, but that "your ability to enjoy your off-time dissipates".

I don't know if this would run true for everyone, but for me? ABSOLUTELY. If I always do what I want to do, eventually it becomes more obligatory and less enjoyable.

I suppose the exception to the rule would be if you have a career you absolutely love. But even then, for me at least (and I have for certain shorter time periods been paid to do things I love), work is always work, and time off is always time off. And the time off is always more satisfying and fulfilling knowing if I know that I put in some effort to be "deserving" of it.
posted by mellosphere at 7:11 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I liked the sort of almost-post-scarcity vignette Andre Gorz put at the end of one of his essays, where neighbourhoods would have a tool bank and educational and networking opportunities, and the sort of not-as-efficient-as-a-robot constructive human effort was encouraged, but not enforced. So while the robots may be best at feeding and clothing us, the naturally productive urges of people were not constrained. I could fix my house up, soup up my torana, create a website, produce theatre, or whatever in a non-optimal way, resources-wise - but it may provide, overall, greater utility to me than having it all done for me.

These days, I think of hackerspaces and game jams and things like that, where people are being productive mostly because they want to be, and not because the producer's livelihood depends upon it.

In other words: think of the opportunity robots give us to reverse, or at least reduce, the alienation of labour produced by the capitalist mode of production.
posted by pompomtom at 7:18 PM on March 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


If I always do what I want to do, eventually it becomes more obligatory and less enjoyable.

Never been a problem for me, and I have gone some fairly long stretches mostly doing what I wanted to.

Rachmaninoff is supposed to have said "Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." Those aren't the words of someone who felt his dedication led to passion blunted by duty. And if his lifetime wasn't "enough" for music, then 5 lifetimes might not be enough for lesser talents.

And that's just one field to survey in a big world.

My biggest problem with my leisure time is that the list of things I find interesting to do has long outgrown the amount of time I have left alive.

So, facing this crushing problem, I waste time on Metafilter and video games, but at least they're interesting too.
posted by weston at 7:27 PM on March 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I seem to recall writing a novel along these lines once. Oddly enough, none of the professional publishing houses would touch it even though I have thousands of emails telling me how great it is.
posted by localroger at 7:28 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Veblen, Marx, and Debord understood quite well how capitalists jump onto the technological bandwagon early to exploit workers, but they lacked lacked long term vision for technology :

"But if all the ideologues (as they do) advocate work—and not only because they plan to make other people do theirs—they are strangely reluctant to say so. They will carry on endlessly about wages, hours, working conditions, exploitation, productivity, profitability. They'll gladly talk about anything but work itself. ... Clearly these ideology-mongers have serious differences over how to divvy up the spoils of power. Just as clearly, none of them have any objection to power as such and all of them want to keep us working." -- The Abolition Of Work by Bob Black

"Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying: 'Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do.' Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told, and acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached." -- In Praise of Idleness by Bertrand Russell

There is an awful lot of slow social transformation required to reach a largely work free society. In particular, you need younger generations to internalize a kind if freedom and dignity that makes them want to participate, but this happened when they tried a bsic income in that Canadian city. Also, you need a much better educational system that costs students nothing but time. Yet, we could start gradually reducing the work week down to perhaps 25 hours now, reaping significant economic benefits along the way.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:30 PM on March 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm an academic. Please, remove the tedium from my job so I can spend more time doing the parts i love. I already do what I want to do.
posted by strixus at 7:31 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm an academic. Please, remove the tedium from my job so I can spend more time doing the parts i love. I already do what I want to do.

How much of that overhead comes from administrative tasks and requirements from your boss?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:35 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Compared to 10 years ago, I have access to technology an order of magnitude more powerful, but as far as I can tell I don't have more leisure time. I have less.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:41 PM on March 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


There are two important details worth pointing out :

These anti-work "anarchist" writers never assumed that robots do all the work. Russell asked only that work be reduced to 20 hours, but he asked this over 80 years ago, well before computers were invented. Bob Black addressed the administrative work more bluntly with "Because work is unnecessary except to those whose power it secures, workers are shifted from relatively useful to relatively useless occupations as a measure to assure public order."

There is no fundamental reason why "your ability to enjoy your time-off dissipates [without work]". You simply take a vacation from one hobby by doing another. Black addresses this directly with "One person does one productive task all the time on an or-else basis. Even if the task has a quantum of intrinsic interest the monotony of its obligatory exclusivity drains its ludic potential. A 'job' that might engage the energies of some people, for a reasonably limited time, for the fun of it, is just a burden on those who have to do it for forty hours a week with no say in how it should be done, for the profit of owners who contribute nothing to the project, and with no opportunity for sharing tasks or spreading the work among those who actually have to do it. .. But capitalism in the real world subordinates the rational maximization of productivity and profit to the exigencies of organizational control."
posted by jeffburdges at 7:52 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


In most contexts I dislike Bob Black because he's an ass to deal with, but he's definitely right about work.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:01 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do future people without jobs acquire food and shelter, according to post-scarcity thinkers? Before replicators are invented, I mean. Are most people on welfare?
posted by gubo at 8:14 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to Gorz, people still worked a few hours a week, so let's call it job-sharing. That said, that's not quite post-scarcity. Post-scarcity presupposes replicators.
posted by pompomtom at 8:21 PM on March 26, 2013


This is the book I was thinking of. Looks like the appendix I wanted to mention is the one thing you can't read on google books - though the one before it ('Towards a Policy of Time') still bears on the issue.
posted by pompomtom at 8:25 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Robots and AI will never produce a utopia society where everyone has the freedom to contemplate how to spend their leisure rather than work for a living, not while the concept of private property still exists. The owners of the robot/AI producers will vaccum up more and more of the sum total of Earth's production, with all the gains going to the top while the rest of the unfortunate meatbag class scrapes and fights each other for an ever smaller share of the remainder.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:29 PM on March 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Robots and AI will never produce a utopia society where everyone has the freedom to contemplate how to spend their leisure rather than work for a living, not while the concept of private property still exists. The owners of the robot/AI producers will vaccum up more and more of the sum total of Earth's production, with all the gains going to the top while the rest of the unfortunate meatbag class scrapes and fights each other for an ever smaller share of the remainder.

The fun part about that is most of the people who write the software that drives those machines agree with you. A lot of the hard-work has already been done and open-sourced. The owners still have the upper hand for now, but that is changing very quickly now.

Hopefully soon it will not be difficult to manufacture the machines to run the software.

Hopefully, capitalism is fucking itself by building the technologies that can dismantle it.

Maybe not, who knows.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:39 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've thought real long and hard about the movie Idiocracy along the lines of post-scarcity and work avoidance/ludism. Theirs seems to be a society enabled by technology, insofar as the reliable dispensers and code readers with the easily-recognized pictogram-labeled buttons make up for the inherent inability of anyone of future average intelligence to do anything. And who made this tech? Possibly the last of the extinct strains of intelligent humanity? Or engineers following the schematic of Vonnegut's Player Piano, wherein the skillful have their every duty analyzed and recorded, to be played back automatically?

Particularly what's striking is the idea of making these jobs as simple as pushing a button with an ideogram of the needed function, and the leap to a conception of engineering jobs as games. Else how will a ludic society go about wastewater treatment and landfill work, which are physically unappealing? Or medicine, which requires obsessive building of skill? Gamifying these seems like the only way; but you will still need professionals motivated to gamify those tasks. More likely of course the transition would be gradual. The work of gamifying would be itself a game.

For all that, in Idiocracy they still have jobs, and there's still a hysteria over having jobs for the sake of having jobs, without any further understanding or desire to understand the economy (as when Brawndo's stock tanks). And there's a creepy subtext to the relative lack of women in the economy except, presumably, at Starbucks or FedExxx, as if they were a sexual helot class (as when Rita is arrested for "not putting out").
posted by adoarns at 8:51 PM on March 26, 2013


Using Idiocracy as a critique or a blueprint is kinda wrongheaded IMO.

If you're interested in this, you should really check out Conquest of Bread.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:06 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The 1% are just as able to absorb the excess wealth created by robots as they have been for every other technological advance.

The problem is mainly political. If the median wage had kept pace with GDP instead of stagnating since 1975, the median wage would now be around $70,000. If we had proper health care, that would be even higher, since wages are suppressed by our hugely inefficient employer-payment system. At that level, you could plausibly live on 50% median salary doing 50% of the hours, and businesses could offer such a deal as an incentive (as does happen in some domains of law and medicine, though usually it's trading lower salary for 50 rather than 80 hours/week).

But of course, that presupposes equitable wages, health care that doesn't depend on full-time work, and a reasonable unemployment level. But the lack of all three is a political creation, and requires politics to sustain. Robots won't change anything.
posted by chortly at 9:15 PM on March 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


The rest of the world is not the same as the USA.
posted by pompomtom at 9:22 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a pretty big fan of the AI run post-scarcity Culture economy Ian Banks describes, its not impossible to pull off.

Though limiting AI rights from the get go certainly hinders the whole thing.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:29 PM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Of Time, Work, and Leisure by Sebastián de Grazia;

Leisure, the basis of culture by Josef Pieper.
posted by 0rison at 9:33 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Look at the past 40 years; American workers are more efficient then ever, yet real wages are at a record low and we have a permanent class of unemployables. That's what the next 40 years looks like.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:04 PM on March 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm a pretty big fan of the AI run post-scarcity Culture economy Ian Banks describes, its not impossible to pull off.

For values of "not impossible" that assume the existence of strong AI and faster-than-light travel, sure.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:41 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Somebody needs to write a "Dover Beach" for our times, although I don't know what the "gleaming light" comparable to 1789 and 1848 would be.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:42 PM on March 26, 2013


In The Denial Of Death, Ernest Becker talks about how work is one of the best ways for us to constantly distract us from death. I agree, and I find that when I have more than a few days leisure time I get insular & depressed.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:22 PM on March 26, 2013


"Compared to 10 years ago, I have access to technology an order of magnitude more powerful, but as far as I can tell I don't have more leisure time. I have less."

Compared to 10 years ago, I can't drink all night and still work all day on three hours of sleep.
posted by klangklangston at 11:47 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Compared to 10 years ago, I can't drink all night and still work all day on three hours of sleep.

Yup, I've noticed that problem at every workplace that bans cocaine. Weird, ain't it?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:58 PM on March 26, 2013


while the rest of the unfortunate meatbag class scrapes and fights each other for an ever smaller share of the remainder

...all the while derided by those who still have for being lazy "takers". The dynamic is already in place with just 9% unemployment.
posted by dhartung at 12:10 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do. Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen.
Jerome K. Jerome, "Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow"
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:31 AM on March 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


The fun part about that is most of the people who write the software that drives those machines agree with you. A lot of the hard-work has already been done and open-sourced. The owners still have the upper hand for now, but that is changing very quickly now.

That's a positive way of looking at it. Another way is to observe that open-source coding is essentially work for free done when young to allow you to win fame, gain experience, and get a good job.

Working for free to gain a job later is what we usually call interning.
posted by alasdair at 2:40 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am pretty sure I can deal with the anomie of a world in which I no longer have the fear of starvation and exposure to motivate me to work. Compared to a world in which I have nightmares about a run of bad luck putting my family on the streets, because that could actually happen, a world in which I am merely struggling with how to make leisure meaningful is a sweet damn deal.
posted by emjaybee at 4:21 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The post scarcity economy is already here, at least relatively. Some of the more essential items for human survival are already available at zero cost to the buyer - again relatively, but also essentially.

Consider what the average American spends on food for a day now relative to the amount of time they spent working to earn that food. That is, as an average (incomed) American, I spend about twenty minutes each day working for my required daily nutrition (this does not include feeding my two kids.) Relative to my great grandfather, who probably spent six hours a day at least, to earn his nutrition, my cost to feed myself is pretty small comparatively. Moreover, my cost could be reduced more if I adjust my caloric intake to just the least expensive food items that meet my nutritional requirements (ie. I have a richer than nutritionally required diet as I eat more meat than is essential, or locally out of season fruits shipped from South America, etc.)

Shelter is also on a post-scarce track. Relative to my great-grandfather, I would guess that I probably do spend the same amount of time working to provide shelter for myself as he did a hundred years ago. However, I have a lot more shelter,and therefore am working less relatively (I don't share my shelter with a large extended family; my kids don't sleep in the same room, let alone the same bed, as his kids did.)

Transportation is clearly post scarce, relatively, as is communication, clothing, healthcare, and other things I can't think for right now.

Despite the post scarce world I live in, I still do not get much leisure time despite not having to work as much because of the relative cheapness of the items I need to live.

The non-necessity of my work does not show up in a shorter work day or work week for me
or for other working people. It should show up in a shorter work life though. That is, the accumulated savings of living in our post scare economy are shortening the amount of time till I can stop work; retire (interim wealth destroyers like stock market crashes, real estate bubbles, aside.)
posted by otto42 at 4:22 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


...looks at how robots, by replacing our need to work, can change our relationship with leisure.

This is a key misconception. Robots don't/won't replace our need to work. They merely replace our employers' need for us to do the work. Unless our society undergoes some unfathomable sea-change and rejects capitalism, we will always need to work.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:35 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


otto42: at a rough guess, I'd say about 95 percent of the world's population has it exactly as your grandfather did or worse.
posted by colie at 5:12 AM on March 27, 2013


otto42: at a rough guess, I'd say about 95 percent of the world's population has it exactly as your grandfather did or worse.
posted by colie at 5:12 AM on March 27 [+] [!]



I would guess that 95 percent of the world's population has it worse than me now and 95 percent of the population at the time my great grandfather was alive had it worse. Therefore, your 95% is better off on a relative basis, just like I am.
posted by otto42 at 5:45 AM on March 27, 2013


Another way is to observe that open-source coding is essentially work for free done when young to allow you to win fame, gain experience, and get a good job.

It does indeed have that use. It is also true that people who are employed by The Man nonetheless contribute to open-source projects on occasion. Sometimes because they've been paid to.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:08 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as much as I'd love a world where robots did the work and I would have leisure time with free food and healthcare...I don't see it happening. What happens instead is the robots and I both work and the rich get richer even faster.
posted by DU at 6:19 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another way is to observe that open-source coding is essentially work for free done when young to allow you to win fame, gain experience, and get a good job.

I wrote a small utility that can still be found on the intarwebs. I wrote it solely to scratch an itch and I wrote it fairly terribly. But it scratched other itches too.

Only one other person has ever connected it to the real-life me and it wasn't an employer.

I've also contributed many patches to various open-source projects. It's hard to see how a few lines of diff is going to make MegaCorp sit up and say "We need to offer that guy a job!"
posted by DU at 6:22 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get about three months of vacation/year, including two months in the summer, and I'm absolutely ready to go back to school in September... we do all kinds of stuff in the summer, but I like teaching, and I wouldn't want to stop for a life of leisure.
posted by Huck500 at 6:25 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like teaching, and I wouldn't want to stop for a life of leisure.

You mean that what you'd do with your life of leisure is teach.
posted by DU at 6:29 AM on March 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


My take is that guys like Black are arguing that our social arrangements for productive activity should be changed to the point where they resemble those that we know as "work" (fixed schedules, wages, doing the same thing all the time, hierarchies of management, and so on) so little that we'd need a new word for them. They are aware that we will need some way to get the trash picked up, but they don't want to continue the way we now select people for that task, which is by relying on there being enough economically desperate and otherwise option-less people to take it on as a lifestyle.
posted by thelonius at 6:55 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Golden Age: Keynes, Malthus, Marx and the Post-Scarcity Vision
None of these writers, however, had a theory of economic growth. Neither was one to be found in the literature of classical economics. Keynes’s discussion of economic possibilities was one of the first to spell out the argument that improvements in living standards, based on a combination of technological progress and capital accumulation, might be expected to continue indefinitely.

He argued that technological progress at a rate of two per cent per year would be sufficient to multiply our productive capacity nearly eightfold in the space of a century. Allowing for a doubling of output per person, that would be consistent with a reduction of working hours to 15 hours a week or even less. This, Keynes thought, would be sufficient to satisfy the ‘old Adam’ in us who needs work in order to be contented.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:34 AM on March 27, 2013


Kingwell's essay seems to bounce around inside the event horizon of our current paradigm, however that may be expressed. I say he's trapped by capitalistic trappings and can't get up. Work v leisure: are those the only two versions of our existence? Work, as a term in phyics, can be well defined and useful. In this other context, it's not so useful.

Pre-industrial societies worked a different way from ours. Labor efforts (on their part) can be said to have been, let's say, seasonal, or episodic. Pastoralists followed their herds, which followed the grass, for example. Agrarianism set a different pattern, which can be traced to industrialism by way of the elitists (who are) in control of things. Capitalism, in many of its flavors, still retains much of the capillary requirements of, say, feudal agrarianism--that's to say that the workers each contribute a bit, and the owners garner the aggregate. The industrial revolution didn't change this. Nor has the so called service society or the credit societies that feed off what is still, fundamentally, capitalism, the rules of which have been refined over the past couple of centuries to favor those who may accurately be called oligarchs. They aren't evil despots or mad plutocrats, just philosophically narrow-minded capitalists whose main issues are the bottom line of the business ledger.

The health of the system, then, asks its members to support the idea that this pyramid be kept intact. You must work? Hmm. Welfare system? doublehmm. Too much free time? doubleplushmm....and so on. None of this essay seems to look above this feudal detritus to imagine how it might be if we were not so centric: making the natives pay homage to the profit margine, and all that. In truth, the constantly expanding business model is not supportable in a finite system. While our global economy continues to wallow in this flawed paradigm the notion that competition is always good will continue to be refined to the extent that it is now: with the corollary that cooperation is bad, because it reduces our share of the profit.

I once hauled a couple of high-powered guys into the back-country for their annual hunting trip. One night around the campfire, they both admitted that they didn't really like to hunt, but needed an excuse to get up in the high country, and hunting provided them with the focus (and thrill of killing helped bind it together, especially if they were able to bring meat and trophy antlers back with them). I don't have that same point of view: I spent 20 years after retiring from this job making seasonal journeys on the trails I never had the chance to explore while I worked for other people. Being there was my reason. I suppose I might have gotten into photography, and in truth I often wished I'd brought along a camera. But anyhow the trip was the issue, and the view from atop the pass was the reward for the effort. On the philosophical side, I have made such trips with backpacks and with pack animals: so when I get to the top of the pass I'm quite aware of who paid the bill for the view.

My point is that I didn't need a pretext to enjoy my hobby, although I could have used it to earn money. I accept my situation as snowflakey, but I believe the issue speaks for itself. Reality rears it head here, because it's pretty easy to show that most people cannot do what I did--I don't mean handle wilderness travel, I mean work at the edge of the system. Children must be fed, rent and mortgages must be tended. The reason people work in shit jobs is because the system requires it: we do not pay people according to the value of their work.

Leisure time is a consumer activity. It's an industry. You work to pay into that industry, you don't take a few days off to enjoy your hobbies and recharge your body and mind so that you can go back to the job and...do it all again. Maybe this isn't an evil thing, but it directs you into a certain propriety of thinking, creates economic heresies that support the system, not necessarily things you'd choose if you weren't coerced into worshipping at the alter of consumerism.

The Devil Makes Work For Idle Hands, eh?

How prescient.
posted by mule98J at 8:03 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Alright. I don't talk about this too much if I can help it, it feels like bragging. But when my grandmother died a few years ago, she left me enough money that I do not have to worry about work for several years, possibly a few decades depending on how I manage it.

I do not lounge around in a consumerist fantasy. I'm not turning into a big tub of lard. It's quite the opposite - having this free time and money has meant that I've been able to start playing with physical stuff outside of my core money-earning skills. I spent a year doing burlesque dance and became the fittest I've been in my life.

My days are largely spent working on large-scale art projects. It's because of this money that I spent most of a year drawing a Tarot deck, it's because of this money that I'm now halfway through a graphic novel. I go to conventions and sell my art and comics. I vaguely think about hunting up some freelance work at some of the game studios around Seattle or maybe working some connections in the LA animation scene, but ultimately I'd really just rather put my own projects together.

I make my own work, is what I'm saying. And I suspect that in the absence of a Day Job that requires all of one's energy, so would a lot of people out there. Yeah, I fuck around a lot too; right now I'm reading Metafilter and debating if I'm going to spend a second day playing Skyrim while healing a pulled muscle incurred during aikido class this Monday. But if I do that too much I start getting antsy to get back to DRAWING; it's what I do.
posted by egypturnash at 10:10 AM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen.

Guy, you're doing them both wrong.
posted by clavicle at 11:54 AM on March 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I hereby volunteer to test part (2) of your thesis. If you can't think of how you'd occupy your time without work, your problem isn't a lack of work, but rather a terrible paucity of imagination.

I'm surprised there's such an irrational reaction to point 2. If your days are filled with "time off," of course you will appreciate your "time off" less. If you go from 1 hour/day to 10 hours/day of "time off" you will appreciate that free time less. OF COURSE.

It is not too much to suggest that being idle, in the sense of enjoying one's open-ended time without thought of any specific purpose or end, is the highest form of human existence. This is, to use Aristotelian language, the part of ourselves that is closest to the divine, and thus offers a glimpse of immortality. To be sure, from this Olympian vantage we may spy new purposes and projects to pursue in our more workaday lives; but the value of these projects, and the higher value from which these are judged, can be felt only when we slip the bonds of use.

I thought it had a few interesting insights.

'We are no longer owners and workers, in short; we are, instead, voracious and mostly quite happy producers and consumers of images. Nowadays, the images are mostly of ourselves, circulated in an apparently endless frenzy of narcissistic exhibitionism and equally narcissistic voyeurism: my looking at your online images and personal details, consuming them, is somehow still about me.'
posted by mrgrimm at 12:10 PM on March 27, 2013


If your days are filled with "time off," of course you will appreciate your "time off" less. If you go from 1 hour/day to 10 hours/day of "time off" you will appreciate that free time less. OF COURSE.

In my experience, if you have only 1 hour/day of free time, you won't have the energy left to appreciate it.
posted by eruonna at 1:23 PM on March 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


We already have captured much of the benefit (at least middle class westerners have), but instead of working 20 hours a week over our whole lives, we frontload the work till age 65 then work not at all and live off accumulated savings/pensions etc.
posted by bystander at 11:54 PM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once we hit 50% unemployment, we'll probably have wars between the massive apartment blocks the poor will be crammed into, just like Judge Dredd. The ruling class will condemn it, but not do anything about it because hey, news ratings.
posted by happyroach at 8:31 AM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like happyroach's optimism that the poor would have housing at all during 50% unemployment.

Enjoying your leisure time, particularly when there is a lot of it, presupposes adequate health to pursue hobbies, volunteer, explore, etc.
posted by _paegan_ at 1:53 AM on March 29, 2013


I think that if you're able to hit 50% unemployment, those 50% of people are gonna know who their real enemy is. I doubt you'd have intra-class squabbles at that point.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:43 PM on March 30, 2013




Americans have mixed feelings about robot sex pole.
posted by klangklangston at 9:57 PM on April 11, 2013


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