There is an utterly charming scene in The 5th Element where Dallas is vended Ramen outside his 93rd story efficiency by a flying boat. Everyone had flying cars in NYC but in the future that will never happen. Well, if it did happen it would by necessity be by autonomous robots programmed to not run into each other. Humans are not up to the task. We have 6,000,000 accidents every year in the US and that number would not double given the third dimension of movement. It would be a geometric multiplier to 36,000,000,000,000. The freedom would not be worth the risk.
It doesn’t matter. People will stop driving for the most part except to see other people which I hope will become a popular pastime. But I do wonder. Most of the time we drive to get to work or to run errands. We will never run errands anymore since if you can afford goods and services they will come to you. Instead of going out to get eggs, a pod will show up (probably at the street) with eggs, not because you ordered them but because the AI has harvested your data in real time and has crossed a threshold where it predicts you will need eggs. You don’t even have to wait for your refrigerator to order them for you. This is kind of awesome but it will be routine.
Because we won’t have grocery stores or big box stores or manufacturing or manually manufactured fast food or sustainable food, very few will have jobs. Just a few robot minders and some very wealthy individuals that are confused about why their wealth is dwindling with nobody left to prop it up.
The robots have made us very productive but they also usher in dwindling employment and almost no employment for people without higher education and marketable minds. I didn’t say intelligent or creative… these are potentials for everyone. Marketable is something that has emerged forcefully in our culture and it is not going away.
Until we tame it. We need to look at the value of being human, the value of labor and the value of dignity and the value of survival. We refuse the conversation since we imagine this utopia where robots give us leisure time and an entertaining survivable chaos of ramen delivered to our tiny apartment romantically eking out a living driving a flying taxi chanting “just work hard and you can make a go of it”.
It’s not going to happen unless we make it happen.