The work of 10

I’ve gone from curious and impressed to enraged on the turn of just a few words. I’m watching a Super Computing plenary session that I posted earlier. An enthusiastic researcher at Intel was talking breathlessly about all the incredible advances in simulation and automation and taking on so much mental drudgery…

“that will free up so much human time to pursue higher endeavors”.

I think it’s clear that this is *not*ever*going*to*happen unless we completely rethink what is the value of work, what is the value of labor. What is the value of being human?

It the most immediate level, automation just gives most of us time to simply take on more tasks. Perform the work of 10 with greater accuracy and lower cost. Sure it is stressful and painful, but your healthcare will offset the damage done to your body and mind.

When scaling it out just a *little* we can see that 9 people are now out of work. Even with skills, who is going to pay them to do the task of 1? They will ask them to do the tasks of 10, of course.

We have a limited number of things even with *artificial* wants and needs like iPhones and 52 inch screens and massage chairs. Basic needs like housing and food are out of reach for the people that didn’t or couldn’t take on the job of 10. There are only so many soda machines to refill and hallways to mop.

And then with only a few people doing all the work and nobody to *buy* iPhones and TVs and cans of soda… everything contracts. There are no more markets or the markets that are left are supporting a shrinking population of automaton tenders.

Where *is* this leisure time that we’re all going to have? Where *is* the higher endeavor that we are setting our now freed mind to?

Where is it?