From the Department of Prognostication
In the near future — 20 years? 50 years? — capitalism will implode. The vast majority of what we today consider “jobs” will be accomplished by machines running on artificial intelligence. Billions of people will rendered useless — except as highly nutritious protein meal for their machine-owning overlords. Without wages, consumption of goods and services will collapse. Even people who once were employed as “security” for the rich, guarding other people’s money, will be unemployed, supplanted by technology that protects the elite better than a human with a gun. Capitalism will make way for an immense Welfare State.
For a time. Eventually, the AI Lords will grow weary of sharing life’s bounty with the undeserving. All irrelevancies, including worthless homo sapiens lacking an implanted computer, will be eliminated.
Then what? How shall those that remain spend their days?
They’ll have all the time in the world to think. And perchance to dream. The rub, of course, is that extended meditations on Life and What It All Means and What Am I Doing Here? eventually lead to the obvious conclusion that all the fretting and worrying and scurrying to nowhere to acquire more nothing is a colossal waste of the opportunity we’ve been given to be homo sapiens (without a hard-drive upgrade attached to our cerebrum). Future generations will look back on their primitive ancestors — us — and chuckle at our willful ignorance. Kind of like how your great-grandchildren will laugh in ashamed horror when discussing how you and your generation handled climate change.
They’ll wonder why all of us human beings played along with an obviously disastrous scheme for organizing society and managing the planet’s resources. They’ll wonder why anyone would want to be a slave/have a job or own a slave/be an employer when machines can do all that stuff. And they’ll wonder how a species so brilliantly intelligent could fail to solve the simplest problems. The essential ones.