“Machines will replace us” should be replaced by “machines must replace us”. If they don’t we have a serious structural problem in our society.
The speed at which we create products is at an all time high, but yet we’re still on a 9/5 schedule, five days a week. People say that prices go up and that’s why they have to keep this schedule or even to work overtime. I don’t think so, I believe it’s actually the other way around. Prices go up BECAUSE we work a lot.
What the Heck?
Everyone working more drives the prices up because the global productivity increases. Since everyone works more, everyone needs to work more because the capability to buy more increases. Everyone then buys more to compensate for the time missing in their lives. People are constantly trying to make up for their “not enough time” situation.
I don’t blame them because I am kind of in the same boat. When we work more, we also consume more because we need to do things quicker for our lack of time. More services and more “tools” to quickly: cook, play, sleep, get rid of pain, eat, and so on. The pill that does it all! The important concept here is quick. Some things take time. In any way, this creates a higher demand in products which in turn creates a higher demand for labor to provide the products.
The problem then follows when we get dictated by advertisement what should be our goals, which of course always require more money and more buying. This is nothing more than a vicious circle. Houses, cars and big products that society claims we need are more expensive as well and therefore people need to work even more and even borrow money. Borrowing money only makes it worst because we’re eating up in our lifetime to satisfy today’s needs. This commits us to work even longer. It also prevents our investments to snowball because who has money to invest anyways when in debt? The capacity that people have to borrow money is a dead end because it gives even more buying power to people that don’t have much to start with!
I believe a society in which people work long hours and overtime is not healthy. Why? Because since the population has bigger buying power but less time, they are constantly researching what could make them happier. With so little time to enjoy anything, they then feel stuck in the never ending loop of work, sleep, eat, cleanup.
Here is my idea of what’s going on.
Not the Right Target
We should be aiming at working less, not producing more. The less we work, the better. This means the technology is going forward and that we don’t need as much stuff anymore because we have more time to enjoy ourselves.
With our advancements in technology, working for the sake of working is simply stupid. In fact, the best employee is the one giving the same output while working less. That’s why machines come into play.
The way I see it: we should be either developing new technology to work for us or monitor/maintain technology working for us.
Wasted Lives and Talent
Lots of people will be working in jobs that they don’t like for most of their life. What a waste of talent and time. Nobody should do the same thing again and again, that’s like throwing a brain in the garbage bin right away. We should be working on automating or cutting their jobs completely instead of keeping them there because they need a lot of money to live. That would give more time to earn a more broad set of skills. But society is built on papers (diplomas) rather than skill sets. Specialists rather than generalists.
In turn, the people losing their jobs could be used to research new advancements in various fields of activity to improve even more our quality of life.
We may be very advanced in term of evolution compare to other speciesr but we’re growing at a very slow pace for our potential.
It might just be that our society has an issue, but society is us. Meaning that blaming society is blaming us. We might have an issue in our way of thinking. Thinking about housing, expenses, cars and luxuries…
Capitalism has more control over our lives than ever before. This leaves us less time to learn and develop our society. Try interrupting one part of the vicious circle in the graph above. Like completely cutting advertisement like I did. The amount of freedom you will feel just from getting away from TV and ads will be crazy believe me. Not seeing ads will make you want less and consume less. You can also get a job that requires fewer hours a week, you will then have less money at hand and won’t be tempted to spend as much because the inflow is smaller.
Is financial independence really a potential solution to all of this? I don’t believe so in a direct way, but it’s a first step in the right direction of consuming less, working less and regaining the choice of what we want to do with our life. Humans still need to work but it’s way better if they aren’t constantly catching up on money. In fact, most FI people still continue to work after they are financially independent.
There is a small issue at the moment with FI: it’s still difficult to find jobs that are not on the 40 hours a week timescale. Society might not be adapted yet for people wanting to work less. So why not give everyone a basic amount then? It’s still going to be difficult to give someone 20k a year and convince him/her not to waste it in the first month. But then how to give people money to live while making sure they don’t spend it on other things? Maybe the understanding of FI is a process and comes in part from the sweat of saving like crazy and optimizing our lifestyle. Therefore, I don’t believe it’s a solution that seem to suit everyone. It’s only a patch on the problem to make a few of us free from the society vicious circle. If we want everyone in the same situation, it’s going to require something else…
3 days a week?
Most people find a lot of gratitude in their job and I respect that, but a 9/5 job 5 days a week is too much in my opinion. I am not sure what could be the best schedule to adopt, but surely less than that. We’re not in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s anymore. We’ve got computers doing a lot of calculations for us, automation in a lot of factories producing at crazy rates. Faster than even. But then why are we still working as much as we did 30 years ago?
Changing the schedules to 3 or 4 days a week for example wouldn’t be easy. To make it work, businesses would need to create shifts and work differently, or else they could open less often depending on the type of business.
Humans need to work, they need interactions with others and projects to keep them going. They need fulfillment from something. Still they should be working less and less as automation takes over, which is clearly not the case. We need to work more efficiently, let’s make good use of our greatest asset, that is our gray matter and find ways to spare more time.
The 3 or 4 days workweek is not new, but it doesn’t seem like people will ever have enough money to slow down…
How to Solve that Problem?
It’s not an easy problem to solve because to break the vicious circle will require the whole society to be reorganized.
From the Ground Up!
Another avenue to explore is our education system… At least in the short term. Money management, credit cards, income taxes should be taught in school to make people aware of those things. This could lead to better money management and less money spent on stuff people don’t require. Then less stuff will have to be produced and less hours will have to be worked.
We might want to focus on things to help humanity keep their basics needs always satisfied like automating farms, water management and so on. Educate more people to create Software and hardware to automate all the things we need to survive. This would create new jobs in new fields.
Some things simply cannot be automated. Human to Human interactions can hardly be automated, therefore, there will always be work to do for Humans.
For Now, FI
A more personal way I found to solve the problem is to really be conscious of what’s going in and out with a budget and to acknowledge the fact that nothing you will buy will bring you happiness to the last level of the Maslow pyramid, only the strict necessary for the first levels is what you need to focus on.
- Food and water, eat well because your body deserves it, and your body can live on chlorinated tap water (no need for bottled water!) and good, simple food.
- Physical activities don’t need a complete set of body building machines!
- Friends, family and other relationships, well you don’t buy that you earn and maintain it.
- Rest, get yourself a good mattress to sleep on, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive, only the most comfortable.
- A shelter, not a 1 000 000 $ mansion!
You can easily see that we don’t particularly need much money to be happy. Financial independence suggest to invest most of what you earn and work harder right now and then you will be able to make your own choices. That’s one path to reduce the amount of hours you work in a week, then you can work on automating the tasks!
To make this a society movement won’t be easy, but as more and more people head toward the same direction, we might see a paradigm shift.
In The End
Conclusion, we’re working too much, on the wrong thing… Let’s make machines work for us so we can do other stuff to help and grow humanity.
More time and talent needs to be focused on evolving our society and capitalism won’t help. In fact, it slows down our development to give much more priority to consumption. That’s why automation and Financial Independence can help. They will reduce the control of capitalism on our lives and regain back to the time to think and evolve for the greater good of everyone.
I’ve found this video which might be of interest for you!