Why do humans need work?

Humanity has always strived for survival, and throughout history, the nature of work has been based upon a need to solve societies sustenance problems, such as how to provide clean water and food, shelter, medication, education, trade, entertainment and defence.

Today, however, this is changing due to decentralisation and automation which is moving us toward a time of abundance. It is entirely conceivable that we would no longer need to tackle these basic sustenance issues in the same way and could do away with work altogether.

Therefore today on #AGICHAT we ask ‘Why do humans need work?’

#futurism #artificialintelligence #debate #singularitynet #futureofwork

Lyrics in a song sung by Charlie King go, ‘Well my life is more than my work, and my work is more than a job.’

For myself, at age 64 and with retirement close at hand, my perspective on the need for work may be different than for someone at a different stage of life.

The work of Creating Terrestrial Intelligence (CTI) is progressing. As it progresses beyond the exascale level, my work will be seeking ways to merge my consciousness with TheMind.

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I noticed something. People are absolutely freaking out about AI automating them out of a job. But what do people do on Monday? They talk about what they did over the weekend – and what they want to do next weekend. They slave away for that one week at Ocean City Maryland each year. I think most workers are under the illusion that their job is important, but actually it’s those moments when they are not tied to jobs that they are most alive, most free, and most creative. They have become blinded by the means that they can not – right now – envision the end.
Provided that the means is taken care of during the age of abundance, most people will handle the transition flawlessly. They will find meaning outside of their duties. People who love their jobs will probably find ways to replicate that joy through hobbies and social organizations.
The ones who will suffer the most are the ones who equate their being with their doing. People who derive their chunks of their self-esteem from their titles and power over others will need to find other ways to replace this crisis in meaning.


I had to laugh because this is so true. Well, if I could get the same money I am getting now, and the robot could do my job for me, that would be great! But the problem is – what happens if we don’t work? Today, we do not know any other consequence than that it would give trouble because we would not be able to pay our bills and eat.


Agreed. I think the difficulty will be the transition into an abundance economy. And some tools should definitely be considered UBI and data-for-pay ideas.

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We want work. It is a proof of reputation…


What are the political or social mechanisms beneath the “abundance economy”? We ALREADY have more than enough stuff and food. The problem, it seems to me, is the distribution of the stuff…I would like to know more about how the introduction of AI will change this?

I think it’s important to redefine what the word “work” means. Messages hidden within this particular word, mean a lot of different things across many cultures. So what is the difference between job and work, work and play, work can be seen as playing, playing can be seen as work…Why do we need work? What exactly does that mean these days? it has been constructed into something that, for me, has lost a lot of its meaning.

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Very true Jayne!

I guess the answer is what is the reason for the work.

If we had a world of abundance where there was no need to work for a living so to speak, then we could all focus out efforts on working towards the betterment of ourselves and each other.

I consider myself to be extremely fortunate because I work in the field I love and so it doesn’t feel like like I am working, that is not to say that I don’t put in hard work, only I want to do it.

I realize though that this is not the typical situation for most people in the world, and it wasn’t for me for many years which I think needs to change.

Truly people should not have to struggle all there lives to afford the very basic things to sustain themselves and their families. Nor do I think we should automate everything and just live a life of luxury.

I think there does need to be a goal something to aim for, something to strive for, just I don’t think that should pure sustenance.

Of course, these are my own personal views :blush:


Humans work because they are programmed to. It’s as simple as that. Sometimes syntax gets messed up along the way that we put ourselves in situations we are not fully aware of and have to back track and de-engineer ourselves back to what we want. On a biological scale that is what makes humans so great. We can “morph” into whatever it is we want but there is a basic force that is there that can be controlled and can help or take away what we want to accomplish in life. Shoot, even “life” is relative, isnt it?

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Proof or reputation to me, speaks of ego at its core. What do you think?

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Do you think the morphing is driven by internal or external causation? Our nature or nurture?

Reputation, in this context, is a historical measure. Actual, not symbolic. Inho.

My understanding is reputation is based around consistent, accurate execution of contract. Work… To be counterbalanced with reward…

Define work please. Do you mean exercise?

To combat entropy perhaps?

Well to use a comparison: suppose you have a person that continued to program, despite machines being able to do it better: the reason is that’s how they find personal meaning.

Simplification of course.

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I see it as striving toward a goal. Life and staying alive is work. Working at a solution, working out at the gym, and in the US if we order a hot dog with “the works” it is with everything. People without purpose or goals or achievement become despondent and separated from the group.
Over-worked, or worked-over are both negative connotations. In the human life, happiness is a questionable goal by itself, but it is certainly good to whistle while you work.

Again, in the US, it became a sort of telling greeting or departing gesture “don’t work too hard” and when something like that goes viral into our language, perhaps the fact that we say it, means we often work too hard for little gain, or we place too much emphasis on work.

As for abundance, if the view is we are not there, then it will never be achieved. I live below poverty and can afford wine from various countries and cheese of any flavor. My heater kicks on automatically, and my sewage disappears. If I have an accident on the road, a mob of emergency vehicles come, cleans the whole thing up, and deposits me safely into the arms of a waiting team of medical care professionals dressed in white serving jello.

We are in massive abundance. And yet we still love to work, and feel passionate about our goals. It is in our nature as human beings. Even isolated, we strive to assist the group.

If we can get robots to take the load, then we will turn to clean up the mess from the industrial revolution. Earning credits for walking through the forest, singing songs and talking notes. Rediscovering that which was ignored. The whole earth is a crime scene, and there is no limit to crisis. There will always be plenty of work. Distribution of labor and goods will always be the politic of primates. And then there’s that “space” thing coming. The time when we work to leave the work, only to find more work. We’ll work it out.