- How is our attitude toward work changing, and why are we working less and less?
- I’m going to freelance, I’m going to become a businessman
- Who would create all the goods of the world if we stopped working?
- What we will get as a result of this approach
- So who will treat and teach us?
- Can robots do everything?
How is our attitude toward work changing, and why are we working less and less?
As technological advances and changes in people’s lifestyles have progressed, the normal length of working time has constantly changed. In the pre-industrial era, people mainly earned their living through agriculture. The human working day was, as we say now, irregular. It began with sunrise and ended with sunset, and the intensity of labor varied according to the season. Labor was an indispensable part of human life and was perceived as a natural necessity, just as we brush our teeth regularly now.
Industrialization drastically changed the way people lived and their attitude to labor. Labor was now largely perceived as work for hire, which meant that there was a need for rationing. The spread of the clock as a mechanism was precisely due to the changed attitude to time: the day was divided into working time and the rest of life, as a matter of fact. At first, the duration of wage labor according to the old agrarian habit was from dawn to dusk. In Russia, until the end of the 19th century, the working day was limited only by a person’s physical abilities and amounted to 14-16 hours a day.
According to the decree of Peter I “About the size of the working day, fines and penalties for admiralty workers” (1708) the working day started at 5 am, lasted 16 hours and had two breaks: at 12:00 for 1,5 hours and at 19:00 for half an hour.
In Russia, working time was first limited only in 1897: to 11.5 hours and 10 hours on pre-holiday days and at night. Fourteen holidays were approved for the first time: 13 Orthodox holidays and New Year’s Eve. At the same time there was no provision for vacations. However, if before, even when working in the fields, a person did not have the feeling that he did not belong, the workers, “tied” to the machines and deprived of the opportunity to be distracted from call to call, soon began to fight for their rights. A trade union movement emerged that eventually led to a reduction in working hours.
The real breakthrough came after the October Revolution – in 1917, the 8-hour workday was established with a 6-day week. Vacation still did not exist.
If we consider the world experience, for the first time the 8-hour working day was officially established in Australia in 1848 and in New Zealand in 1856.
In Russia, and then in the USSR in the last century, the duration of working hours was repeatedly changed both upward during the Great Patriotic War, and downward; vacations appeared.
In the USSR, the 5-day workweek first appeared in 1967 under Brezhnev. An 8-hour workday was established for a 41-hour work week. This “extra” hour accumulated over 52 weeks of the year and led to 6-7 working Saturdays, which were set by departments each on different days according to their own schedule.
The 40-hour workweek, as we know today, was not introduced until April 1991, just 30 years ago.
The use of technology and the mechanization of labor has made it possible to increase production and the variety of goods and services many times over, even while reducing working hours by more than half! Compare the 84-96-hour workweek at the end of the 19th century with the 40-hour workweek at the end of the 20th. Despite such a dramatic reduction in labor costs, during this period humanity faced its first overproduction crises. Such an abundance of goods and services as we have now was hard to imagine 100 years ago. But this is by no means the limit!
In the 2nd half of the last century, with the advent of computers and the Internet, humanity began a gradual transition into a new post-industrial era – the era of artificial intelligence, robots and knowledge. Ubiquitous automation and robotization allow more and more functions to be transferred to technology. Think about how our everyday lives have changed over the past 40 years. How much time and effort has it taken to take a photograph, for example? Buy film, take pictures, develop, select the best shots and have them printed. Now you get what you want instantly, and get rid of bulky family photo albums. How many people were previously involved in the process of making your picture, from film and paper production to store clerks and photo studio employees? How many are required now? This is just a tiny example of our dramatically changing lives!
Advances in technology and the emergence of artificial intelligence leave no doubt that people are taking less and less time to produce the amount of goods, work and services they need. Today the pace of automation is being artificially restrained in order to avoid mass unemployment and, as a consequence, popular unrest. This is a problem of international scope and has been discussed by many economists, who have found nothing better to do than to propose a tax on robots for those employers who replace human labor with them. Such an approach is a dead end. We would still have to work very hard, and in doing so we would be depriving ourselves of the opportunity to make our work easier. True, some economists are pushing for an unconditional basic income. There are some right-thinking people, too.
It is time to admit that a change of epochs is always accompanied by a drastic change in the way and even meaning of life! For the first time in human history, the new era of informatization has introduced an intangible object into the system of everyday life values – information and knowledge. This has replaced the daily bread and technical innovations of the industrial age, which were valued during the agricultural era. More and more people prefer to work less but have more free time to do what they love, to learn, to read, to acquire new skills and experience. Labor becomes interesting when it becomes a fun process of self-realization or helping others, rather than a way to provide for the necessities of life. Let’s leave the hard, boring and monotonous work to the robots!
The change of epochs and the accompanying changes in our society have been described by many authors, including Alvin Toffler (The Third Wave, The Metamorphosis of Power, Revolutionary Wealth); Albert Wenger (The World After Capital).
I’m going to freelance, I’m going to become a businessman
The desire for freedom from strictly scheduled work has led to the emergence of a huge number of people working for themselves: freelancers and businessmen, or entrepreneurs. The first still do the work for someone, but determine their own schedule and duration of work, focusing only on deadlines and the final result. The latter, in most cases, become employers themselves.
Both often have to work as hard as they do as employees. Freelancers are pushed to this by low pay for their work. As a result there is a large number of orders with deadlines that are always “tight”. Have to work even more than the standard 40 hours a week. Consolation is that you can do it at any convenient time for you – even at night.
Entrepreneurs, even if they have hired workers, have to control everything all the time, and do especially important work themselves, because they do not risk shifting responsibility for their business to someone else. Whereas an employee goes home after work and can switch to his/her own business, an entrepreneur is engaged in business 24/7, constantly acting at his/her own risk.
Even in this relatively free of the 8-hour workday, overwork and burnout at work are common. Even here we are confronted with the impetus driving man in the agricultural age: “If I don’t make it today, there will be nothing for me and my family to eat tomorrow.”
Is this really the case, and could it be otherwise?
Who would create all the goods of the world if we stopped working?
Modern technology makes it possible to provide all of humanity with cheap energy, clean drinking water, natural products grown on vertical farms, and an abundance of goods. But today, with the current format of society, the use of these technologies is tantamount to disaster, because it will lead to the closure of many industries simply because they are not needed, which means that many people will be without work and means of livelihood.
Back in the last century was created toothpaste, the use of which can permanently rid a person of the appearance of cavities. This discovery was announced, but until now, the toothpaste has not been on the market, partly because someone would lose their profits, but mainly because many businesses would have to close and millions of people would be out of work.
If this invention had been available to people, there would not have been as many dentists-therapists, part of the huge market for dental equipment, part of the pharmaceuticals that are used to treat cavities, and all the jobs that serve them, from drivers and salesmen to accountants and marketers, and our children would not know the dreaded word “cavities” for half a century.
Many other life-changing technologies, such as vision correction, have been announced. You can continue the chain with the disappearance of glasses, lenses and eye drops from our lives on your own.
The question is, when will we stop clinging to the old ways of doing things and the not-so-long ago established 8-hour workday?
Today there is an opportunity to refocus our economy on the human needs of the age:
1) automate production as much as possible and use new technology;
2020 U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Young writes in his book “The War on Normal People” that an Americano made by a robot in an automated café based on an order placed via sms was just as delicious, but 40% cheaper.
The same goes for pizza made with a 3D printer. In addition, you will not find foreign objects in it, such as hair, for example, which, alas, happens to people, and you know the turnaround time to the minute.
2) Unite to redistribute the available resources and the remaining amount of work among all the inhabitants of the planet. Redistributing resources would result in an unconditional basic income, and redistributing work would result in a 16-hour work week.
One question remains: how does one achieve such unification and agree by all the world? The answer is simple: the international project “The Creative Society” makes it possible.
The creative society gives mankind another important advantage. It allows the use of those technologies, which are now dangerous to use, because they can be used to create weapons and destroy people. Under present conditions, even scientists and inventors often do not bring their discoveries to realization and do not make them public, realizing that they can be used for harm.
In a creative society, human life is the highest value, people are united across the planet and its resources are distributed fairly. There is no need to fight for them with weapons. Then the pace of technological development will accelerate manifold. This is not even a smartphone, which was considered fantastic 20 years ago, and now is in the pocket of every child.
In a creative society it is possible to safely access an inexhaustible source of energy, the possibility of which Nikola Tesla proved a century and a half ago, as well as to create all necessary products and items literally from garbage or any unnecessary material by rearranging elementary particles at the level of quantum interaction at home, in the privacy of every home.
What we will get as a result of this approach
- Substantial reduction in working hours – more than halving – while maintaining the same wages.
- An unconditional basic income for every person on the planet. Having this financial safety net will bring peace of mind to everyone, from the wage earner to the businessman or investor.
- New technologies replacing the vast number of goods and services required by man today. Think of the possibility of tooth decay and glasses disappearing.
- Improved quality of goods and services: Artificial intelligence and robots are more successful, accurate, error-free, and quick to perform given functions as opposed to humans.
- Lower prices and no inflation. We have already written about the factors of significant reduction of production costs and, consequently, prices of goods, works and services in the creative society.
- This must be taken into account to assess the real purchasing power of wages and unconditional basic income.
So who will treat and teach us?
If everything is relatively clear with the production of goods, then the question arises about such in-demand professions as teachers and doctors, for example. These areas are traditionally underpaid and understaffed. It is impossible to sign up for the real specialists in a month.
The answer to this question is the same.
First, nowadays many people are guided by purely mercantile interests when choosing a profession, thinking about how to feed themselves and their families. Education and medicine are not the most reliable fields for providing a high income. I suppose you too have met a wonderful former teacher, loved and appreciated by his children, selling building materials in a supermarket. Life in a consumer society forces one to work where they are paid.
In the creative society, with decent and approximately equal pay for all professions, a person would be able to do what he or she loves. All of us have a natural inclination to help our fellow human beings. As children, many of us wanted to be doctors and teachers (before we thought about income). With decent pay and financial support in the form of an unconditional basic income, many more people will be able to choose these meaningful professions for society. A job in accordance with one’s vocation is the best guarantee of quality work.
Surveys by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM) consistently show that the profession of physician remains the most in-demand profession. It occupies the leading position in the rating with a large margin of almost 2 times.
in 2006 – 18%;
in 2009 – 21%;
in 2012 – 24%.
24% is a quarter of the population!
Second, medicine and education are two areas that are currently insanely bureaucratic. Doctors and teachers spend more time writing than they do doing what they love, paying attention to people, and being creative. In addition, activities in these fields are severely restricted by current instructions, rules and regulations. Doctors are forced to prescribe treatment by strictly following instructions, even if they don’t agree with them, and teachers are forced to follow the curriculum. This, too, reduces the number of people willing to work in these areas. Reducing paperwork will contribute to shorter working hours, and revising outdated norms will increase the number of people satisfied with their jobs and make them more attractive to others. Add to this the guarantee of a creative society, such as the availability of free education, which makes it possible to change professions repeatedly in the course of one’s life.
Third, some of the work of medical professionals is performed more accurately and precisely by robots, not to mention nano-robots, which scrupulously and unmistakably perform operations without causing any discomfort or damage to human health, unlike the traditional scalpel. Those who doubt that the use of these technologies is possible today will be reminded of the miracle toothpaste for tooth decay.
There is experience in the use of artificial intelligence in medicine:
A computer is more successful at diagnosing diseases based on X-rays and MRI data than a team of experienced specialists.
In September 2017, the first robotic dental implant surgery without human intervention was performed in China. The robot not only printed the two required implants on a 3D printer, but also placed them on its own.
Can robots do everything?
Analysts at McKinsey Global Institute studied the work functions and activities performed by people in various professions and came to the following conclusion – robots can replace:
- 81% of physical labor,
- 69% of data processing,
- 64% of data collection.
Note! We’re only talking about the technology at hand.
The potential for workplace automation in Russia (according to the McKinsey Global Institute):