Automation and Utopia (Hardcover)
Human Flourishing in a World Without Work
Harvard University Press, 9780674984240, 288pp.
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Automating technologies threaten to usher in a workless future. But this can be a good thing--if we play our cards right.
Human obsolescence is imminent. The factories of the future will be dark, staffed by armies of tireless robots. The hospitals of the future will have fewer doctors, depending instead on cloud-based AI to diagnose patients and recommend treatments. The homes of the future will anticipate our wants and needs and provide all the entertainment, food, and distraction we could ever desire.
To many, this is a depressing prognosis, an image of civilization replaced by its machines. But what if an automated future is something to be welcomed rather than feared? Work is a source of misery and oppression for most people, so shouldn't we do what we can to hasten its demise? Automation and Utopia makes the case for a world in which, free from need or want, we can spend our time inventing and playing games and exploring virtual realities that are more deeply engaging and absorbing than any we have experienced before, allowing us to achieve idealized forms of human flourishing.
The idea that we should "give up" and retreat to the virtual may seem shocking, even distasteful. But John Danaher urges us to embrace the possibilities of this new existence. The rise of automating technologies presents a utopian moment for humankind, providing both the motive and the means to build a better future.