Predictions are always wrong, because we cannot shed the context and assumptions of now.
World population is about 7 billion now. Half (3.5 billion) can work. Two hundred million are unemployed. Thirty percent of workers live in poverty. Workers in precarious jobs number 1.4 billion. Worldwide, 65.3 million refugees.
Suppose we succeed in breaking the connection of labor to living for everyone. What will we do?
Those who watch Star Trek have seen people with no need of money. Gene Roddenberry ’s model of the future is one in which each person chooses what they want to do with their time, talents, and capabilities.
“Replicators” provide food, clothing, anything they want; they “disassemble” waste at the atomic level and recycle it. “Transporters” take us where we want to go. We will have things we have not yet imagined. Every critical human need could be met, except purpose, love, caring for children, and worship. What could anyone gain by military force?
The challenge will be having a purposeful life. The competition for some vocations might be intense, but no one starves or languishes in rags. The best of the best will gain the prized positions; meritocracy must rule. People will seek learning, practice skills, and achieve mastery because they want to.
Imagine managing your life and relationships in this environment. Most people want to have purpose, meaning, value, and love. How would you operate with no mandates to work? Unless you choose what you want to do, you could become a complete, passive consumer. Sadly, some part of the population will choose nothing, spending their days with virtual reality or whatever passive entertainment suits them. If anyone is bored, it would be their mindset, not the lack of opportunity or shortage of possibilities.
Picture the “landscape” this produces. Everyone who has an interest, talent, or skill is doing what they love best. They might split their lives among various pastimes, adventures, travel, and learning.
The world will still have certain needs for real expertise, but they might be limited to high technical or medical skills, education, psychiatry, management, art, sports, and entertainment.
People will still have medical and mental problems, even when they have no pressures, because we are physical, emotional animals. Advanced medical knowledge, technology, pharmacology, and treatments should allow doctors, nurses, and aids to handle the physical needs.
Feelings drive us. Coaching and emotional problem management would be a need. We might still have people born with mental or physical limitations, needing caregivers.
Manufacturing, food, transportation, and housing would all be produced by the technology. With no scarce commodities or resources, the only conflicts would be intra-personal: love, sex, sports, politics, and religion. These can be resolved peacefully.
Billions of people would compete for and share the remaining tasks. Sharing makes sense, especially for the multi-talented. Doing three or four different activities a few hours each day might be satisfying, and fun. They might have hourly shifts around the clock to accommodate all the masters of that task or activity. There would be standbys for every hour making “on call” the rule versus the exception. People could choose tasks we now assign as impractical, or worthless, like the artistry and craftsmanship we admire from the past. How long something takes to do will no longer be a factor. The world would be art.