As someone who watches technology trends closely as part of my business, I have been thinking about the future impact of all the technology innovations and automation we are currently experiencing and on the cusp of achieving. Many of the headlines I read about these trends — and even some I write — predict some pretty negative consequences right along with the monumental achievements and improvements.
While improvements in machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data, and robot automation could mean huge advances in medicine, science, commerce and human understanding, it’s also undeniable that there will be consequences as well. These technological advances represent a significant challenge to capitalism. Together, they are poised to potentially create jobless growth and the paradox of an exponentially growing number of products, manufactured more and more efficiently, but with rising unemployment and underemployment, falling real wages and stagnant living standards.
In fact, it’s already begun.
The rate of technological progress and worker productivity is on the rise, but wages are stagnating, factories are eliminating jobs, and researchers estimate that anywhere between 35 and 50 percent of jobs that exist now are in danger of being lost to automation.
But what if the prognosis weren’t all doom and gloom? What if all this automation were instead to provide so much luxury that we enter a post-work era, when humans are required to do very little labor and machines provide everything we need?
This is the theory of ‘Fully Automated Luxury Communism’, an idea and ideology that in the (near) future, machines could provide for all our basic needs, and humans would be required to do very minimal work — perhaps as little as 10–12 hours a week — on quality control and similar oversight, to ensure luxury for everyone.
Robots, AI, machine learning, big data, etc. could basically make human labor redundant and instead of creating even further inequalities it could lead to a society where everyone lives in luxury and where machines produce everything.