What will people do for work in the future? Will work cease to be the foundation of human identity? In the absence of work, how will people define themselves and spend their time?
I like the above pic because it conveys the sense of panic that a future of unemployment induces in people. How will we survive without a job to occupy 8 hours of our weekday?
I'm retired, so I'm already facing that challenge, and it's not easy for me. I'm a very self-directed person. I play music for several hours a day, sketch most days and go to the gym for yoga and aerobic exercise. Until my grandkids came along to fill my day with babysitting, I was still struggling with loneliness and boredom.
Work is not just a source of income. It's our primary source of social life.
Automation and robotics wipe out more jobs every day. This phenomenon is only going to accelerate in the future. The fast food joints will become fully automated and will probably employ only a few people for maintenance and cleaning. Retail is dying as Amazon and the other online stores make cost competition impossible for brick and mortar stores. Office and professional work is also in the crosshairs. Secretarial, word processing and data input jobs are dying out, too.
Manufacturing companies continue to search the world for the cheapest, best educated and motivated work pool, and that will only end when robotics take over completely.
The only jobs that seem exempt from the carnage are blue collar maintenance and cleaning jobs, hands on service jobs like nursing and the really dirty work of caring for basic human needs.
So, we will be faced with the odd dilemma in the future of a super affluent world populated with useless humans. Or so we think. The future is always surprising.
These issues are already surfacing in the 2016 presidential election in the form of a debate about "income equality." Nobody is really starving or doing without in the U.S. In fact, people are becoming chronically ill and dying in droves from obesity. But, we do suffer from a couple of real problems. How do we divide up and pay out income when fewer and fewer people are needed to do the real work? How do people find meaning and social contact without working?
What will the outlaws of future do?
As this world becomes more bureaucratized, locked down and feminized, I suspect that the outlaws will start plotting to get out. Where is there to go? I think that the answer to that is colonizing other planets. The misfits and outlaws of the future will find a way to live an adventurous life and they will embrace the only risk remaining.