Suppose, though, that we keep our civilization alive and flourishing and, therefore, that technology continues to advance. It seems logical that the professions of such a future would include computer programming, lunar mining, fusion engineering, space construction, laser communications, neurophysiology, and so on.
I can't help but think, however, that the advance of computerization and automation is going to wipe out the subwork of humanity—the dull pushing and shoving and punching and clicking and filing and all the other simple and repetitive motions, both physical and mental, that can be done perfectly easily—and better—by machines no more complicated than those we can already build.
In short, the world could be so well run that only a relative handful of human "foremen" would be needed to engage in the various professions and supervisory work necessary to keep the world's population fed, housed, and cared for.
What about the majority of the human species in this automated future? What about those who don't have the ability or the desire to work at the professions of the future—or for whom there is no room in those professions? It may be that most people will have nothing to do of what we think of as work nowadays.
This could be a frightening though. What will people do without work? Won't they sit around and be bored; or worse, become unstable or even vicious? The saying is that Satan finds mischief still for idle hands to do.
But we judge from the situation that has existed till now, a situation in which people are left to themselves to rot.
Consider that there have been times in history when an aristocracy lived in idleness off the backs of flesh-and-blood machines called slaves or serfs or peasants. When such a situation was combined with a high culture, however, aristocrats used their leisure to become educated in literature, the arts, and philosophy. Such studies were not useful for work, but they occupied the mind, made for interesting conversation and an enjoyable life.
These were the liberal arts, arts for free men who didn't have to work with their hands. And these were considered higher and more satisfying than the mechanical arts, which were merely materially useful.
Perhaps, then, the future will see a world aristocracy supported by the only slaves that can humanely serve in such a post—sophisticated machines. And there will be an infinitely newer and broader liberal arts program, taught by the teaching machines, from which each person could choose.
Some might choose computer technology or…