January 4, 2014

"We will live in a 'society of enforced leisure,' and 'the most glorious single word in the vocabulary will have become work!'"

From the "Incorrect Predictions" section of an article titled: "Isaac Asimov's Predictions For 2014 From 50 Years Ago Are Eerily Accurate."

21 comments:

St. George said...

Here's the actual article. He also predicted a bunch of stuff that hasn't happened....widespread hovercraft travel, half of all energy being produced by nuclear sources, radioisotope batteries in homes, moon colonies, bathyscaphe ocean liners....glow-in-the-dark french fries, sentient ketchup, talking cheeseburgers...

In the book "These Are the Voyages," a detailed analysis of the first year episodes of Star Trek, it's clear that Asimov and Trek creator Roddenberry were fans of each other's work, though, curiously, he never wrote for the show.

The most interesting thing about the book is the incredible difficulties the show's producers had with writers--a nearly universally incompetent lot, including famous sci-fi novelists. Many episodes were re-written on the fly by the show's staff while they were being filmed.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

A laborer of the turn of the 19th century, when six twelve-hour days in a work week were normal, might view the forty hour work week as enforced leisure. Instead of valuing the time off, he would as likely bemoan being deprived of the opportunity to make more money.

The incredible gains in productivity of the last few years will continue this trend. We just don't have to work as long to create the same amount of wealth. Asimov is basically correct. Those who are creative enough to fill their leisure time with productive endeavors will be, are, envied and admired. The rest of us will be watching TV.

EDH said...

St. George said...
Here's the actual article. He also predicted a bunch of stuff that hasn't happened... glow-in-the-dark french fries, sentient ketchup, talking cheeseburgers...

Bullshit!

Asimov predicted... Aqua Teen Hunger Force!

Now, that's something to be proud of.

betamax3000 said...

"We will live in a 'society of enforced dependence,' and 'the most glorious single word in the vocabulary will have become equality!'"

betamax3000 said...

RE: My Last Post.
It is easier to Predict the Present.

cubanbob said...

He got a lot right. How many can make predictions fifty years out that will pan out?

The thing that most sic-fi guys get wrong about making projections is that a lot of their projections don't make sense today or in the future. As St. George said:

"St. George said...
Here's the actual article. He also predicted a bunch of stuff that hasn't happened... glow-in-the-dark french fries, sentient ketchup, talking cheeseburgers…"

Who would actually want any of these things today never mind tomorrow.

vicari valdez said...

i'm still waiting for pkd's "mood organs" from do androids dream of electric sheep.

Robert Cook said...

"The incredible gains in productivity of the last few years will continue this trend. We just don't have to work as long to create the same amount of wealth."

And yet, somehow, working people today are working longer hours than 20 or even only 10 years ago, and, in terms of real purchasing power, making less money than we were in the 60s.

Oh yes...the increased wealth produced by those gains in productivity are going to the top, not to the workers.

SocialllyExtinct said...

It's easier to predict sociological trends than technological advance, obviously. Glow-in-the-dark french fries??? He obviously didn't foresee the industrialization of supper time.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

And yet, somehow, working people today are working longer hours than 20 or even only 10 years ago, and, in terms of real purchasing power, making less money than we were in the 60s.

Re: longer hours, I think the PPACA is poised to deal with that problem, once the employer mandate kicks in. Welcome to the 29-hour work week!

As for the decline in "real purchasing power," forgive me for saying that I just don't believe it, however many times it's said.

What do you want to purchase with your real purchasing power? Food? Shelter? Clothing? A car? Books? Music? Would you really argue that such things are less available, less varied, and of lesser quality now than they were, say, ca. 1964? Would you trade life in the US at median income now with life in the US at median income then?

Some people undoubtedly would, because ours is a much riskier job market, and security is valuable. Just bear in mind that you don't get any post-1964 medical technology, either. And certainly not the mechanism by which I am typing this and putting it where you can read it. I think you'd miss that, if it wasn't there.

B said...

Robert Cook said..working people today are working longer hours than 20 or even only 10 years ago, and, in terms of real purchasing power, making less money than we were in the 60s.

Why might that be? In a word, taxes. And not just income tax, but all the other taxes that reduce the individual's own earned benefit of his labor.

...the increased wealth produced by those gains in productivity are going to the top, not to the workers.

Bullshit. It is redistribution of wealth from the workers to the non-workers and that is not imposed by your 'top'. One benefit the real 'top', the government, gets is indeed skimming some portion of the wealth that passes through their hands but the real one is the support of the non-worker's vote.

Michael said...

Robert Cook. If the CEO of GE took none of his compensation in 2012 and instead spread it as a bomus to his 305000 employees they would each be enriched by $85.
Do the same math for all fortune 500 companies.

Your view of executives stealing the wealth is flawed. Math is more ruhless.

Michael said...

Robert Cook. If the CEO of GE took none of his compensation in 2012 and instead spread it as a bomus to his 305000 employees they would each be enriched by $85.
Do the same math for all fortune 500 companies.

Your view of executives stealing the wealth is flawed. Math is more ruhless.

Deirdre Mundy said...

He's right on the mark. I mean, people are COMPLAINING because the ACA is instituting a de facto 30-hour full-time work week.

We talk about the plight of people on disability and the long-term unemployed. Yet, they have their basic needs met without a need to work! Enforced leisure.

Look at the kids in their parents' basements. They're not happy working part time at Starbucks and spending the rest of their time at play. No, they all want meaningful, full-time work.

Perhaps it's time to recapture the ANCIENT idea of leisure--- where philosophy, literature, poetry and science were all leisure activities. Since we have so much leisure now, why not make the most of it?

Illuninati said...

There is still plenty of work to be done if we are willing to allow the economy to adjust. When farming became more efficient workers moved into manufacturing. As manufacturing becomes more efficient workers need to move into services -- especially healthcare services. The idea that healthcare must be suppressed because it is becoming too large relative to the rest of the economy places an intellectual ceiling on the number of workers who can move into healthcare. Instead many of them are moving onto the unemployment dole.

Carol said...

well 'work' in the generic sense does sound sweet to the jobless jobseeker. gets ugly in the particulars.

Saint Croix said...

I saw the Asimov story in the Goldberg File, which is Jonah's free weekly newsletter. You can sign up at NRO. Not sure if Althouse is a reader, but she and her readers would love the Goldberg File. It's hilarious and often dives into the non-political.

For instance, here is a funny video about a Japanese game show where men try to pull off the bras of women. It's all in Japanese but it works like silent comedy. Watching this you can see why Japan loves Jackass.

Gahrie said...

Oh yes...the increased wealth produced by those gains in productivity {is} going to the {government}, not to the workers.

FTFY

Bruce Hayden said...

The insanity is that a half a decade ago, this would prediction would have been ludicrous. But 5 years of Obama, and it seems now credible, with the 29 hour workweek becoming standard, and free feed, housing, healthcare, and even cell phones for the masses who reelected him. And, if he gets his way with student loans, essentially free education for almost as long as you want. Of course, it comes at a horrible financial cost to the society, but that is apparently worth it if everyone outside the 1% is equal - equally impoverished, as every socialist redistribution scheme inevitably accomplishes. The 1% or 2%? Well, they become ever more "equal", meaning that they get richer, while everyone else becomes poorer, in exchange for the effort of controlling everyone else's lives.

Chug Roberts said...

"Let us be grateful to Adam, our benefactor. He cut us out of the blessing of idleness and won for us the curse of labor."

Mark Twain

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Adam_and_Eve

Kirk Parker said...

Bruce.

"Everyone else is equally impoverished"?

Oh, no: there's always a nomenklatura--always.