Recently I was asked to visualize a day in my life twenty years from now in 2040, with the assumption that we made the right decisions as a society and life is much better because of it, not just for me, but for everyone. What is a day like? I'd like to share with you my future day, but first I want to preface it with a quick rethinking of "work" and "leisure,"because I think imagining a better future requires rethinking those two concepts.
First, what do we mean by work and the point of it? For that, I'd like to refer you to Mark Twain who said in an interview with the New York Times in 1905:
"What I have done I have done, because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn't have done it. Who was it who said, 'Blessed is the man who has found his work'? Whoever it was he had the right idea in his mind. Mark you, he says his work - not somebody else's work. The work that is really a man's own work is play and not work at all. Cursed is the man who has found some other man's work and cannot lose it. When we talk about the great workers of the world we really mean the great players of the world. The fellows who groan and sweat under the weary load of toil that they bear never can hope to do anything great. How can they when their souls are in a ferment of revolt against the employment of their hands and brains? The product of slavery, intellectual or physical, can never be great."
Next, what do we mean by leisure and the point of it? For that, I'd like to refer you to Bertrand Russell who wrote in his essay "In Praise of Idleness" in 1932:
"I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work... Leisure is essential to civilization, and in former times leisure for the few was only rendered possible by the labors of the many. But their labors were valuable, not because work is good, but because leisure is good. And with modern technique it would be possible to distribute leisure justly without injury to civilization... Modern methods of production have given us the possibility of ease and security for all; we have chosen, instead, to have overwork for some and starvation for others. Hitherto we have continued to be as energetic as we were before there were machines; in this we have been foolish, but there is no reason to go on being foolish forever."
With those two quotes in mind, here's a quick look at my life in the year 2040:
I wake up and my day is mine. It’s not that I have nothing to do. It’s that everything I plan to do today, I choose to do today, because I have the choice to not do it. I plan to get some writing done today. I’m writing another book and my AI assistant handles everything an editing team decades ago would have handled. I don’t have to worry about formatting. The AI handles it. I don’t have to think as much about style, because the AI has learned my style and makes recommendations I can either accept, adapt, or ignore. Writing a new book can be done now in months instead of years.
A full day’s work is considered 2-3 hours, or just one period of flow. I am also more than my work. I am my leisure. My value to my community is not only what I create, but what I enjoy. No one creates in a vacuum. Just as I am writing in the hopes of my words being enjoyed by thousands or even millions, the immense amount of creation being done by others needs time to be enjoyed by others.
Because income was decoupled from work decades ago with a productivity-indexed unconditional basic income, consumption has also been decoupled from income. Yes, people can still do work for money and use that money to purchase the work of others, but a gift culture has also arisen, where because people’s basic needs are more than met, and because full-time is considered to be around 12 hours a week, people have the resources and the time to freely create and share without anything expected in return, and people have the resources and time to enjoy what is created, and to feel a duty born of trust, to want to give back to a society that has given, and is giving, so much to me, simply because I am alive.
My community is the world. I feel like I am more than just an American citizen, but also a citizen of Earth, and even the entire solar system, now that we are on Mars and beyond. My community is local, but also expansive. With augmented presence technology, I can virtually sit face to face with someone who is actually anywhere else on the planet. Distance is not the barrier it once was, nor is lack of plentiful access to resources. The barriers to community have been greatly lowered.
The question is no longer, how am I going to pay rent this month, but how am I going to grow the most this month as a person? How am I going to improve? How am I going to give back? What experiences am I going to share with my friends and family? What new frontiers am I going to explore, either in my mind, or in person, and who with? What questions am I going to ask? What am I going to learn and create? What am I going to try? These are the questions I care about. These are the questions that matter.
I am a human being. My life has value. My time is mine.
If you think this kind of future sounds good, please now ask yourself, "How do we get there?"
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