I have written before about humans having to fill the time between birth and death. Sleeping takes up about one third, with standing in lines, eating, socializing, complaining, staring at a television, playing video games, etc. using some of the rest. Working at some job has been a major component of human life, for those lucky enough to have one. Pay has been an issue, but that is not what I talking about here.
Those with money want more and want to share less with those without. Why else would most corporations seek labor-saving methods or move jobs to low-wage countries? More and more jobs are being automated. Most automobiles are now made by robots, with humans adding finishing touches. Machines do not demand wages, health care, or pensions. No machine demands a toilet break, rest break, or lunch break. They do not strike or call in sick. They make no demands. If amazon could, they would have no humans working for the company.
So, my point is: what will people do in the future to keep busy from birth until death if there are no more jobs? How will they earn money for food, clothes, and rent? Where will they get the money to buy the products made by machines? I wonder if the wealthy think about this as they destroy jobs, accumulate ever-greater shares of the world’s wealth, and hide out in gated communities.
(Once again, I am not a communist, merely someone with plenty of time to think...)
Here’s another view:
Hindus and buddhists or others believe in an afterlife or repeated reincarnation/rebirth. Or so I’ve read or heard...but do not believe. Nevertheless, in case they are correct, I do not want to return as worm or a rat or even a higher caste (there is none: I’m a white American!). No, I want to return just as I am (recognizing that time will have progressed), but with enough money to live in Switzerland. For me, that would be an ideal life style and excellent quality of life. The form of government is as good as possible with humans involved. Food and drink are excellent. The only drawback would be the foreign tourists, but I would find a secluded spot...and put up a fence.
I just read an interesting book, Digital Vertigo, about the way the world has become/is heading. Basically, it is about social media and connectivity. The book predicts that everyone on the planet will be connected, somehow, in the future. If still alive, someone will have to place a gun to my head...
First conclusion: I am glad that I am retired! That is not my world. I use the internet (which supposedly will be replaced by social media), but do not want to join Facebook, Twitter, or their ilk (proliferation seems to be a potential problem). I am amazed at how much information people willingly make available to everyone. Aristotle, Konrad Lorenz, and others stated that “man is a social being”. All failed to reckon with the likes of people like me!
Next, I thought of the famous Apple commercial from the 80s, in which they portrayed IBM as Big Brother. I find it ironic, since Apple has taken over the role of Big Brother, because they “control/can spy on” anyone that purchases one of their products. This difference is that the drones the audience of today, as opposed to the actors in the IBM commercial audience, all volunteer to be watched.
Next, if everyone is connected everyone else on the planet, how many of those people will they actually know? The current definition of friend will no longer apply. I recall speaking with Russians, after the fall of the Soviet Union. They told me that a “friend” was someone you could trust with your life...because lives were lost and prisons filled because of non-friends. Connectivity cannot mean trust. I thought of a crowded London subway car, where people play with iPads, smart phones, etc. Many might be "connected" by some social media site, but are unaware to each other's proximity and actual existence. All remain mere "faces in a crowd", despite being connected. To me, this is "faux social".
Finally, I have another question. If connectivity means that people will “never be alone again”, what about jobs, salary, food...survival, which is the other (negative) trend of the future? I doubt that social media can solve society’s problems, nor do those companies want to. People running these businesses seem to be interested only in the money. If you read the book, you will notice how many times the author uses the term “multiple billionaire”.
After this brief foray into the real world, I will happily return to fiction...
_I watched a program, which was based upon the Space Station traveling around the globe every 90 minutes. It picked certain spots on the surface and explained what can be seen from above and what is happening on the ground during the time it takes astronauts to make one circumnavigation.
One segment sparked a thought. Las Vegas is visible from space. It uses excessive amounts of natural resources to survive. Like the Space Station, everything needed for survival must be transported from somewhere else. But, that was not the point. The point made was that Las Vegas is the “fattest” place on earth. It has the most overweight people, and scenes of obese people eating illustrated this.
The program made a point about dwindling natural resources and the need to feed a growing human population. There will be 7 billion people consuming calories by 2050. Will Americans be able to afford to be fat? Will they be able to even eat well? Most think that they have a god-given right to overeat.
At some point they may learn that there is no god, when food companies chose profits over patriotism. Will American food manufacturers ship dwindling supplies to the highest bidder? Of course they will, because profit is more important than friendship, charity, or any other human emotion.
I make this prediction, but will not—fortunately or unfortunately—live to experience my clairvoyance or lack there of in 2050. Bon appetite.
I just read an article in Time by Harvard professor Joseph Nye about hard and soft power in international relations. He outlines changes in recent years, caused by shifts in national strengths and weaknesses and the rise of information technology. He explains difficulties facing governments, especially leading nations, because of easy access to technology and information.
I had a thought...
Predictions of the collapse of the American Empire and rising supremacy of China may be premature. In my mind (despite my continued harping on the country's shortcomings/failings), the US still has three major advantages.
First of all, it has the ability to fed all its citizens and have plenty left over to export. China has trouble feeding a growing population even with massive imports. A hungry population is a restive population.
Second is the dominance of the military industrial capability. China may have a huge army, all sitting a long way from the United States, and a minuscule navy. It will be easy to batten down the hatches and weather any storm (because of point one).
Third, and not mentioned in the above article, is the US dominance in information technology. Industrial capability may have declined, but many intellectual properties have been flourishing. Microsoft has been a leader for years, and Apple is growing everywhere. Google is the leader in search, but other machines are also American. Twitter and Facebook, used so effectively in recent uprisings around the world, have all come from a still-free creative environment. (One arena where the US has fallen behind is genetic engineering. Short-sighted rulings during the Bush/Evangelical Christian era set the country back decades).
The race is not over...and it won't be, until the human race manages to do what Jon Stewart outlines in his book Earth....
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.