The Useless Class: The Meaning Of Life With No Work And A Universal Basic Income

Robot WelderWikipedia Commons

The author, Yuval Noah Harari, is a atheist who thinks he can divine the future. This article might raise your blood pressure, but you need to read this from his own pen. On the other hand, Harari also speaks for the global elite on futuristic visions.  TN Editor

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).

As religions show us, the virtual reality need not be encased inside an isolated box. Rather, it can be superimposed on the physical reality. In the past this was done with the human imagination and with sacred books, and in the 21st century it can be done with smartphones.

Some time ago I went with my six-year-old nephew Matan to hunt for Pokémon. As we walked down the street, Matan kept looking at his smartphone, which enabled him to spot Pokémon all around us. I didn’t see any Pokémon at all, because I didn’t carry a smartphone. Then we saw two others kids on the street who were hunting the same Pokémon, and we almost got into a fight with them. It struck me how similar the situation was to the conflict between Jews and Muslims about the holy city of Jerusalem. When you look at the objective reality of Jerusalem, all you see are stones and buildings. There is no holiness anywhere. But when you look through the medium of smartbooks (such as the Bible and the Qur’an), you see holy places and angels everywhere.

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6 Comments on "The Useless Class: The Meaning Of Life With No Work And A Universal Basic Income"

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getontheark
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I hope this author is prepared for the unusually hot weather he’s certain to encounter on his final trip south.

Pyra
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Another opinion piece from a useless God-hating mental reject who cannot figure out that homosexuality is against “natural law” instead of being irrelevant. Can two men produce offspring? Can two women? Then natural law states that homosexual couples will NOT reproduce, hence is not a sustainable “natural” occurrence. Natural things are the norm in a natural nature… :- trite but what else can be said about the obvious?

This article is about bashing religion and God, and not about much else. Fummin’down!!!

Tatiana Covington
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So gay couples can’t have kids? SO WHAT? Too damn many people anyway. BTW, don’t you keep track of things like cloning and artificial wombs?

Patrick Wood

Tatiana – This site, Technocracy News and Trends, is about Technocracy. It is not here to bash technology or to be a technology blog, but rather to expose the heartbeat of Technocracy and all it implies – the Editor

Alexandre Mihanovich
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The world is being prepared to be populated only by dumb, un-creative, un-artistic, un-life (a new meaning for the UN) people, and idiots like this bastard Yuval think they are part of the elite and will be around to “enjoy” this psychotic futuristic distopia, when they themselves are going to the paredón as soon as their “work” is done. There is nothing we can do. “We”, whoever that is, could have done something a long long long time ago, but not now. Yuval won’t have to reinvent himself, since he is already spiritually dead, and will soon be physically dead,… Read more »
Eileen
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There is an assumption in this blog post that older people can’t reinvent themselves. They can and many do. The second point that I take issue with is the assumption that those who drive cabs somehow are incapable of doing so-called “head work”, like coding. Having done coding myself, I can assure you it isn’t that difficult and the fact that the field is populated by younger people is due SOLELY to ageism, not because older people aren’t nimble.

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