Google and Tesla are developing a driverless car—no matter the unsparing ruin of hundreds of thousands of livelihoods worldwide that will ensue. This is “progress”, which is inherently and universally good. Be grateful that human society is becoming more productive by the day.
But to whom will the fruits of that augmented productivity accrue? Thanks to the new wave of automation, countless occupations, from paralegal to cashier, will obsolesce, and for the idle masses any cost of living will be too high. I’m one step ahead of you, libertarians. Every era of technological advancement has opened up new occupational sectors and ultimately improved our standard of living, right? But what sphere of activity will succeed the service economy?
My guess is that the STEM-deficient plebeians will simply become a barely sustainable burden to the new aristocracy, which will have money to spare on the new welfare state and effusively congratulate itself for its compassion. Numbed by the mindless pleasures of the digital age, the hoi polloi might not realize that they’ve become the redundant casualties of biology.
Here’s Mark Steyn on the topic.
“Work” and “purpose” are intimately connected: Researchers at the University of Michigan, for example, found that welfare payments make one unhappier than a modest income honestly earned and used to provide for one’s family. “It drains too much of the life from life,” said Charles Murray in a speech in 2009. “And that statement applies as much to the lives of janitors—even more to the lives of janitors—as it does to the lives of CEOs.” Self-reliance—“work”—is intimately connected to human dignity—“purpose.”
Steyn often writes that the divide between social and economic conservatism is illusory. Our secular culture and the march of technology conspire to make his point painfully clear. As advancements in mechanics coincide with the development of A.I. and human genetic engineering, the inherent value of human life will seem ever more tenuous. With intelligent robots and commercial drones around, who needs all the humans?