A world without work: how automation will change our future

“A world without work: technology, automation and how we should respond” with Daniel Susskind

A world without work: how automation will change our future

The development of artificial intelligence, molecular and additive manufacturing continuously increases the level of automation and self-improvement of industrial processes, while reducing costs. As a result, each of these technologies is likely to be able to completely replace living labor in the creation of goods and services, violating the existing fundamental foundations of capitalism. In this article, we examined how the transformation of technological processes will affect the economic mechanisms and the future of mankind.


For a long time mankind is not limited by what nature or our mind offers. Since the advent of the steam engine and electricity, we have been improving the methods of producing goods, transferring more and more part of the work to mechanisms, which previously required living labor..

Experts predict that the level of global production, which previously doubled every fifteen years, is now expected to start doubling every quarter or even faster. This will lead to rapid economic growth that will fundamentally change the distribution of capital and labor..

Technological transformations

Additive manufacturing is already having a significant impact on industry. At the moment, the technology has reached a level that allows you to create almost everything, from bioprinting of human tissues and organs, to the construction of houses, cars and airplanes, taking into account the wishes of each consumer. This will fundamentally change the supply chain, will lead to the redistribution of most production processes..

Millions of people will be able to independently make, copy, exchange and sell various products, creating all the items necessary for everyday life with one click. The integration of the blockchain into these processes will create a new type of global digital economy that opens access to the use of projects from anywhere in the world..

The development of molecular manufacturing, in which nanoinstruments and non-biological processes will be used, will also have an impact. The prospect of creating an affordable industrial ecosystem capable of self-reproduction will allow countries to become fully independent and receive everything they need in unlimited quantities.

Advances in science and technology have brought us closer to being able to create living things at our will. Bioengineering will make it possible to artificially remove any cell, organism or species to obtain the necessary chemicals or raw materials.

At the same time, the participation of artificial intelligence in most processes will significantly increase their efficiency..

Self-Improving Automation

There has always been progress and technological innovation. Therefore, we are talking about how artificial intelligence systems will interact with other disruptive technologies, making them completely autonomous..

It should be understood that the pace of development is regularly accelerating, and as soon as the dynamics of change in the field of automation moves from linear to exponential growth (becoming self-improving, self-replicating and distributed), the old business and management models will no longer work effectively..

The development of artificial intelligence, molecular manufacturing, bioengineering and 3D printing will lead to increased productivity, efficiency, safety, convenience, increased profits, economic recovery. However, in parallel, there will be problems associated with the transformation of industry, the reduction of human labor and jobs, a decrease in wages, as a result, the purchasing power of citizens..

Reduction of employment and incomes of the population

As the degree of automation and robots improves, traditional economic models will begin to be compromised. Since work is the foundation of our society, it is important to understand and evaluate the consequences of such changes. For example, how the coming transformations will affect the redistribution of power and wealth, competition and opportunity on a global scale?

Chances are that skyrocketing device productivity will result in fewer days and / or hours in the work week. Similar experiments are already beginning to be carried out in some countries. However, this leads to a decrease in human participation in the production process, therefore, to a decrease in wages and personnel..

At the same time, the increase in efficiency due to automation stimulates the business to accelerate movement in this direction, abandoning the expensive and «whimsical» living labor. The robot does not sleep, it does not need rest, vacation, treatment, etc..

With each new round of changes, violations in the current economic system will become more and more noticeable, which will threaten its very existence. Therefore, in the coming years, countries will need to develop methods to deal with the negative effects of automation..

We recommend that you find out which profession cannot be replaced by a robot..

Threat to capitalism

The current capitalist system is based on the laws of demand, supply and distribution of resources, which in a broad sense represent capital and labor. A reduction in the latter will lead to a decrease in wages and purchasing power of the population, which will lead to a lack of money for the consumption of goods, works and services rendered..

This will create a difficult socio-economic situation and increase political tensions. Experts believe that the solution to the problem can be the introduction of an unconditional basic income, which implies that the state pays citizens a certain amount of funds without requiring the performance of work in return..

The goal is to ensure a decent standard of living, freeing up time for development, creativity and education.

This raises a number of questions:

  • How to determine the minimum level that satisfies citizens, taking into account the natural unlimited growth of needs and the subjectivity of the assessment?
  • Who will control the distributed funds: business or government?
  • If the decision is made by the government, then how to determine how many citizens can count on support?
  • Additional taxes will be levied on businesses or the robots themselves?
  • If mechanisms are taken as a basis, what legal and regulatory challenges may follow??

Pilot programs to pay unconditional basic income have been introduced in Finland, Canada, Switzerland and India.

The future is inevitable

These are just some of the future challenges that need to be addressed. Complex and contradictory technological, social, economic and political transformations await humanity. Although it is not known exactly how everything will change or how quickly, in any case, you should prepare for the upcoming changes in advance..

text: Maria Alyaeva, photo: velolive, gdb.rfer

Similar articles