I don’t believe in a jobless future, or that automation will relieve humanity of our need to work. A mind is a useful thing to the world, and we owe it to each other to use it in productive ways. Work helps us do so, while also providing positive aspects to our lives that are otherwise hard to replace. As a father, I enjoy contributing to the welfare of my progeny and knowing that my efforts are making a positive difference to the people I love. I enjoy the intellectual challenge of improving my skills. I enjoy the recognition of a job well accomplished, and the empathic reward of seeing your own praise brighten someone else’s mood.
We are a social species driven toward collaboration. We are also a striving species seeking self-improvement and success. Finally, we are a philosophical species striving to be part of something larger, to see meaning in our actions, and to leave an imprint on the world after we’re gone. Can these emotional needs be met in other ways? Certainly. Perhaps in some future millennia we’ll devote ourselves instead to art and the cultivation of nature, to religion, to games and sports, or to philosophy. If AI does eliminate the absolute need for labor, individuals would become free to pursue their own paths towards happiness.