“The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play,” said Arthur C. Clarke.
Seems a reasonable guess, considering the promises of technological innovations.
But I’d say the technology is already here, today. We have it. We have the technology to allow us to play the days away, living life enjoying each other’s company rather than laboring and stressing over work done for money. There are still some things we must do, such as maintain our electric and water maintenance facilities, our farming and food distribution, our public safety and emergency services. What else? These services don’t need to cost anything but time, in the same way our household chores cost nothing but time. We just train an entire community to do these things, and then someone will only have to volunteer a couple hours every week or month at most.
A lot of the work most people do nowadays is, in the big scheme of things, unnecessary. We sell things and provide services to each other that we really don’t need. We want to protect ownership and private property so we won’t bother each other. Get off my property! We just like giving someone else the privelege of our working hours in exchange for the money so that we can turn around and make the same trade with someone else for whatever services or goods we want. Want, because other people have them. Want, but don’t need. (Plus, having grown up in such an environment, we feel safe with it, for the most part. There’s some strange fear that the world might collapse if we change things too drastically. Nevermind how drastically things have already changed in just the last century. Who wants to go live in 1913?)
Ultimately, most of our economics are based on vanity, and that may be the hardest thing to give up. We like to protect the possibility of getting that new gadget, bragging about our next achievement, buying a big house. Can we share? No, it’s mine! Socialist!
But, if we did give it up, we’d all be far wealthier than we could imagine, because life would be one big playtime. Isn’t that the sort of life people desire to gain through wealth? And all this time, the cost isn’t actually monetary.