Should “Work Ethic” be a timeless measure of human worth?

Should “Work Ethic” be a timeless measure of human worth?
As automation increases alongside advances in AI and robotics – there will be significant decreases in ways in which people can economically compete. The writing is on the wall – it’s not hard to imagine, at least in principle, the idea of ‘reward for hard work’ becoming less meaningful and useful as time goes on.
If the sole measure of a successful economy is economic growth, where human well being is useful only insomuch as it is instrumental to economic growth – where do the dividends of economic growth go?
Not towards the well being of those who are unable to compete, and in the long term that likely means everyone.
Perhaps we are too comfortable with being at the top of the food chain that it makes it hard to see a future where we are no longer economically important being the most efficient means of economic progress. Imagine an automated age of abundance where everyone’s hardest work at providing economically competitive value is far outstripped by the efficiency of (physical and intellectual) mechanization – there would be no reward for human labor. It seems probable that ultimately even the rent-seekers would loose out. Imagine a future where an increasingly efficiently mechanized economy generates unending mountainous vistas of abundance that no one can afford to touch. What’s the use of an ultra efficient economy where no one can afford to enjoy it?
We need to seriously explore basic income guarantee – at least as a transition to a long term strategy where persons don’t just get a basic income, but one in which they can flourish with regardless of their ability to competitively contribute to the economy.
Some transhumanists suggest going full cyborg and merging with the machines – this idea is worth exploring too – but it isn’t without it’s problems. If the degree to which one can merge with the machines is based on ones economic output and ability to compete this too becomes a problem – in the long run the ‘human’ component in the merger may be the bottleneck.
I hope neo-darwinism/survival of the fittest ideology goes away completely. And while useful today, I think in the long run the idea of “work ethic” may need be retired.

In response to a great FB post by Stuart Armstrong, and a survey on Robots.

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One Comment

  1. Another way to implement this could be to begin forming goals to, over time, offer ‘Staples of Life’ for free or nearly free. Food, water, shelter. Music 🙂

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