"Total Work," a world where our existence is validated by our contributions of productivity, may not be far from...

“Total Work,” a world where our existence is validated by our contributions of productivity, may not be far from…

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“Total Work,” a world where our existence is validated by our contributions of productivity, may not be far from reality. At least this is Andrew Taggart’s take. At one level, I feel like there are plenty of examples where we are moving in the opposite direction, but at the same time, there is something true about what he’s saying in this piece.

https://singularityhub.com/2018/01/07/if-work-dominated-your-every-moment-would-life-be-worth-living/#sm.00000c6s2y1493exxsw6onqemf38u

7 comments

  1. If Work Dominated Your Every لو

    ما شفت اول منشور في🌷 برفايلي🌷ما راح تضحك

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  2. When I think of total work, I think of that little boy in a documentary about child labor in Bangladesh. He wakes up, if he’s lucky he gets breakfast and then he works all day and evening in a sowing workshop until it’s time to go to sleep.

  3. Very good post. Worth reading & contemplating especially so for today’s style of living.

  4. I was disappointed in the article; it’s basically wrong. TW, as presented, is an extremely unlikely scare scenario born in the early age of industrialization. It is surely true for some people in modern times, but cannot become a social norm.

    As Gideon mentions, we are much more likely moving in the opposite direction to ‘total work’.

    The profound social problem we face is not a hell of being consumed by ‘work’ (apparently construed as time and labor spent generating ‘wealth’ for others), but rather how to fairly distribute wealth created without our direct time and labor through automation and other productivity enhancers.

    We very likely need to modify or possibly abandon the production-consumption model, redefining work, wealth, and what life beyond basic subsistence could mean.

  5. Joe Repka, I agree with your basic point. Full stop.

    The reason I shared this, though, is because even within this emerging new economic reality to which you and I are acutely attuned, there is still something with us now that pulls us into these systems, even if it entails doing work, like posting stuff here on G+, for which we are not paid. There is an obsessive quality nestled in here that I think has much to do with feeding the ego. Like I say, he didn’t quite nail it in this piece, but he’s hinting at something…

  6. You are surely right, Gideon, if you point to a need to better understand what work is and what it means to us, collectively and as individuals. I’m concerned that ‘work’ is becoming yet another important concept so often talked about without having a sufficiently clear and common meaning.

    I’ll argue against my own perhaps overly strong assertion that ‘total work’ cannot become a social norm by pointing to the Japanese work ethic created by the largest corporations (based on a quasi-mythical ‘way of the warrior’ from feudal times). We can recall recent news about people dying from overwork in Japan.

    But assuming the future of work does move in the direction of less work to be done by people, where ‘work’ means tasks done for pay or other external incentives rather than self-motivation, what will people do? I’m sure there are plentiful studies.

    Retirement behavior is probably a good place to look for insights. In general, though, I suggest we take care not to over-generalize results that will base policies. There is too much variance in basic human traits such as motivations, abilities, attitudes, social mindsets, and so on. Many of us may need competent guidance in the transition from working towards impressed goals to developing and working toward personal goals. There may be many who would ask, “If we didn’t have to work at all, would life be worth living?”

  7. Joe Repka, I think the retirement analogy is probably the best we have, at least until we have better longitudinal data coming back from the growing number of Basic Income experiments.

    And yes, “work” is one of those terms, like “consciousness” with many different meanings. I am just starting Jeremy Rifkin’s book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, and I don’t know yet whether he gets into a redefinition of work. My own thinking here though is that as automation increases, and as more of the people still working are engaged in building Internet-scale platforms for engaging endusers in self-service, the nature of work has to change.

    Perhaps it will more closely resemble the notion of work as it is applied in physics. In other words, perhaps it is the act of displacing, or moving, the system through the application of force. There may be many reasons a stakeholder may wish to contribute that kind of displacement to an enterprise, including financial compensation, recognition, or the satisfaction of some utility that needs filling.

    The thing that is capturing some of my focus in the longer-form writing I’m now doing is how our participation in these new forms of work is changing us. I don’t think this author quite nailed it, but as I say, I think there is something there. It’s this sense of being subsumed into something larger than oneself. There’s good aspects to that, and clearly there are bad ones too.

    thezeromarginalcostsociety.com – Jeremy Rifkin | The Zero Marginal Cost Society

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