ENTERING THE LEISURE ERA:
THE LEISURE AGE
- BREAKING THE CYCLE
THE LEISURE AGE
The idea of a future era of leisure is by no means a new one. In his short essay, "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren" (1931), John Maynard Keynes looked past the "economic pessimism" of the day (The Great Depression,) to forcast an optimistic view of the long-term prospects of capatalism. He predicted substantial standard of living increases by 2030 - a time when people would live in a state of great abundance. He believed that future generations - once freed from the necessities of working and saving - would spend the majority of their time on leisure, finding ways to "pluck the hour and the day virtuously and well". Japanese sociologist, Ikutaro Shimizu proposed a similar idea of "the coming of the leisure-age" in 1966.
By the 1960s, many people believed that the rise of automation, robotics, computerization, atomic energy, communications, and efficiency would improve productivity so drastically that technology would eliminate up to 99% of human labor. The main problem they forsaw was keeping people occupied so that they wouldn't be bored to death. Remarkably, however, people now work more hours than ever before, not less. The oversight was an assumption that productivity would remain constant. In reality, productivity can expand and diversify without limit, making workers more efficient at producing more "stuff," working more hours of the day. Modern production methods have given us tools to leverage our time, but human nature insures that we always strive to live just beyond our means; If we make more money, we will spend more money, if we have more storage space (digital or physical,) we find more to store. This is a part of human nature that we would do well to simply accept.
BREAKING THE CYCLEThe difference this time around is that people will be eliminated from every stage of the production and distribution of material goods. With robots making all consumer goods, humans will be freed from the production cycle. Productivity can be endlessly scaled by simply adding more/faster robotic automation. The Robotic Revolution will enable the Leisure Age of the 21st century by automating automation, leaving people free to do what they want, rather than what they must, for the first time ever.