I’ve always been fascinated how most people look to their “work” to find their meaning in life, when most of these same people also hate their “work.”
Since when do we assign meaning to what we hate? Isn’t that ass-backwards?
Me? Ever since I learned in high school that what adults do is “work” I decided never to become an adult. Instead, I follow my passions, wherever they may lead. And the result: the universe supports me, every step of the way.
That said, I find this next post a very astute look at who we are and what keeps us engaged. Its title doesn’t really do it justice.
Most jobs that exist today might disappear within decades. As artificial intelligence outperforms humans in more and more tasks, it will replace humans in more and more jobs. Many new professions are likely to appear: virtual-world designers, for example. But such professions will probably require more creativity and flexibility, and it is unclear whether 40-year-old unemployed taxi drivers or insurance agents will be able to reinvent themselves as virtual-world designers (try to imagine a virtual world created by an insurance agent!). And even if the ex-insurance agent somehow makes the transition into a virtual-world designer, the pace of progress is such that within another decade he might have to reinvent himself yet again.
The crucial problem isn’t creating new jobs. The crucial problem is creating new jobs that humans perform better than algorithms. Consequently, by 2050 a new class of people might emerge – the useless class. People who are not just unemployed, but unemployable.
The same technology that renders humans useless might also make it feasible to feed and support the unemployable masses through some scheme of universal basic income. The real problem will then be to keep the masses occupied and content. People must engage in purposeful activities, or they go crazy. So what will the useless class do all day?
One answer might be computer games. Economically redundant people might spend increasing amounts of time within 3D virtual reality worlds, which would provide them with far more excitement and emotional engagement than the “real world” outside. This, in fact, is a very old solution. For thousands of years, billions of people have found meaning in playing virtual reality games. In the past, we have called these virtual reality games “religions”.
What is a religion if not a big virtual reality game played by millions of people together? Religions such as Islam and Christianity invent imaginary laws, such as “don’t eat pork”, “repeat the same prayers a set number of times each day”, “don’t have sex with somebody from your own gender” and so forth. These laws exist only in the human imagination. No natural law requires the repetition of magical formulas, and no natural law forbids homosexuality or eating pork. Muslims and Christians go through life trying to gain points in their favorite virtual reality game. If you pray every day, you get points. If you forget to pray, you lose points. If by the end of your life you gain enough points, then after you die you go to the next level of the game (aka heaven).
We really do need to remember that we multidimensional humans CREATE meaning as we go, dreaming up virtual realities that then, sometimes, given enough discipline, focus, skill, and communion with both the zeitgeist and the abundance of the universe, we push some of our virtual realities into material form. We play in 3D. We play.
Whatever engages us fully is as playful as it is meaningful. It’s also usually highly creative! Because that’s what we human’s are, intensely and passionately creative, once we shake off our conceptual helmuts (self or collectively created virtual realities that pretend to tell us what is or isn’t real) and unleash our full aliveness. For example, this new craze for mobile “tiny homes.” Look what various virtual realities have have wrought!
For example, this Australian Walking Shelter . . .
Another example, the Ecocapsule — to me a breathtakingly elegant design, wind and solar powered, accommodates two people.