Do humans dream of electric sheep? What is work going to look like in the future? Post-pandemic opinion seems to be radically split between wanting it to look exactly like it did (the back to work movement) and having it become a hybrid, function and preference driven model that includes working from home (remote) and on site.
Right now, everyone is losing their minds of ChatGPT and other AI tools that seem to be removing creative work from the plates of the ‘professionals.’ AI remains the biggest potential game changer out there, but the ideas as to what this will look like differ wildly!
Thanks to Nicholas Nassim Talib, my general approach to the utopian AND scaremongering visions of what AI and automation will do to the world of work is one of scepticism. If so many people are talking about specific outcomes as if they are certainties, history has taught us that these are probably NOT the outcomes that will happen.
Yes, we’re incredibly bad at predicting the future. Mainly because we insist on modelling on what has already happened, on project patterns from the past into the future as if they are not intricately connecting to an open ended web of factors.
No, the future will look nothing like either of these extremes. What I see already is people self-filtering what work will become with their own personal choices. Post-pandemic, jobs that basically no-one really likes, that are badly paid and time intensive, are struggling. People moved on to other options and they are not returning and no one else is entering. I mean, who really wants to wait on tables and sling baggage at an airport?
THIS is a pattern that is being repeated across industries and young entrants into the work place are not keen on slogging for ten years to get anywhere. And already in restaurants, thanks to QR codes and Wi-Fi, many of those human functions are already being replaced. The same will happen with baggage handlers and street sweepers.
Instead, humans are going to start demanding more from work: more purpose, more fulfilment, less hours, more money.
And so we should. Right now, worldwide, you get taxed MORE if you work for your money that you do if you make money from investments and stocks … Which is to say that you pay less tax the more POTENTIAL money you have. If you have actual money, you’re being screwed by the tax man.
Bearing this in mind, it’s no wonder the labour force is starting to look for more from their work.
Starting in the 80’s, sci-fi author Ian M Banks was writing about The Culture … a future humanoid civilisation where there is no money and no need to work, thanks to sentient machines doing everything … but people still worked because they WANTED to. This is the kind of future I hope we are moving towards.
Of course, first we’ll have totally dismantle the global banking and financial system and change everyone’s idea of self-worth, value and labour, but hey, an electric sheep can dream …