I keep reading about friends who complain about their jobs and how they don’t see themselves retiring at all, worried about their financial future. I think the whole idea of retiring is nuts. Maybe I’ll write about that later.
TL;DR: Everything will be effectively free of charge, no more work in the future. We will retire earlier than we think. If robots don’t kill us, most will live happily ever after.
See, technology will replace you, me, anyone at work. Even today, without any advancement, if we used existing tech to the max, we’d have jobs for maybe 1bn people at best. Considering ~7.2bn human population, about ~3.5 would be up for a job, but only 1bn would get one. There’s no way we could find any work for the rest 2.5bn people. In other words, what they do today is not necessary. They’re possibly wasting energy by doing work.
As we advance towards singularity, the concept of "work" will cease. If energy is free and plenty and everywhere, and the materials are basically free, there is no point in selling anything. With sales, pooof, and marketing, advertisement is gone too. All businesses that depend on ad money will also be kicked out.
You might think that people part of the global capitalist system would not let that happen, and I beg to disagree. Efficiency and profit maximisation are trojan horses they will happily let into their little castles, I believe.
Transitions to an economy of everything free of charge will come in many forms. Remember Switzerland planning to pay all citizens a base income of ~2500 EUR each month, no questions asked? Very early move, but there you go. (It didn’t happen, of course.)
You might think this would create a chaos, excessive waste? I don’t think so. There will be a slow transition, so the common culture will adapt to the change. We will learn to get what we need only and not waste. Because when you know something will be free and available forever as much as you want, you’ll use only so much. No point in stockpiling. People gave up downloading and archiving movies, because fast internet is everywhere at a really low price, even free of charge in some countries.
The transition will have profound impact on every aspect of life.
For starters, representative democracy will be gone sooner. We won’t need puny middle-men humans to decide for us when recommendation engines and communication get too good. We the caring public can decide together.
I can rant a lot more with my prophecies, but I’ll cut this short and leave the rest for your imagination. Agriculture, law enforcement, production and transport of food, clothing and energy, making dwelling for humans to live in, healthcare… All these and more can and will be mostly automated.
But there is no rest for the wicked. Disturbed among us will keep being creative. They were the ones who shape the future throughout the history anyway. They will keep dreaming, designing, modifying, producing, iterating. We depend on them for progress.
So what will happen to those of us who are not disturbed enough? My optimism says we will live happily ever after. We will be sipping healthy organic drinks by the *INSERT_BEAUTIFUL_SCENE_OF_YOUR_CHOICE* peacefully. If you want the worst case, sadly, I think the system would cannibalise us and recycle the energy to avoid waste.
(Just between us: Bored to death, we will cease to have kids and eventually remove ourselves from the gene pool over a few generations, and the evolution will take a very interesting path from there on for the first time in human history. Don’t tell about this last bit to anyone.)
Then, what will happen when everyone becomes crazy-creative in the post-utopian-world? Now Go and read E.M. Forster’s short story, published in 1909, appropriately named "The Machine Stops" a fucking century ago. I’ll wait, please, go read it. Watching Matrix all over again is optional.
Rinse, repeat: Archeologists of the future will have some really fun time trying to figure out what the fuck we were up to with all this crazy shit over the earth’s crust, just like archeologists today marvel at remnants of older generations.