I want to share an idea that’s very disturbing to me:
It’s not the purpose of any business to give people jobs.
In fact, it’s the opposite. Doing more work with fewer people is a primary goal of business. And if one of the main uses of technology is to make businesses more efficient, then one of the outcomes of improving technology will be a reduction in the number of humans required to perform the world’s work.
This is a serious problem.
Not insurmountable. But serious.
We’ll need to completely reframe the concept of “meaningful work” to something that co-exists with machines and AI being more competent than us.
This is also an argument for the necessity of the metaverse. I’m not saying it’s the only solution, or that it’ll even work. But I am saying it’ll likely be one of the primary strategies for addressing the problem.
In short, the metaverse will be one of the ways we try to give Labor Obsolete humans—or what Yuval Harari calls the Useless Class—a way to contribute to society. Or at least to feel as if they’re contributing to society.
I think when we look back and the metaverse 100 years from now, it’ll be primarily seen as a mental health tool for human transition from being useful to being useless in the old world.
I think we can transition. I’m optimistic.
I’m not optimistic that we can move to doing jobs that our machines and AI can’t do. But I’m optimistic that we can move to doing jobs that we don’t let machines and AI do.
Like if we need to find a new star system to continue in after our sun burns out, or we need to combat a new pathogen that harms us—those jobs we’ll use machines for because we’ll be too vastly inferior in calculation ability.
But there will be some things we leave for ourselves. Caring for each other. Being nice to each other. Research. Experimentation.
If our lives don’t depend on it, I imagine we’ll retool ourselves to be able to do certain tasks that help us feel useful.
But now that I think about it, why not just let us run an analog, old-world civilization that provides the most meaning? Like tilling fields, picking berries, and exploring the planet?
Like a Westworld for normies, where we get injected into the Matrix for the sole purpose of living a normal (see wonderful) life of birth, struggle, and death.
I don’t know what the solution will be. But I worry a lot about the transition.