The future that was

The future, my dad explained to me, would be The Leisure Society. We currently lived in what was called The Affluent Society and this would be the next stage in the forward progress of mankind. As technology and automation reduced the need for people to work and as things became more efficient and durable, so we would shift to being primarily consumers of goods and services: we would work less because we would have fewer needs in some ways. His example was the light bulb. In the future you would have light-bulbs that lasted indefinitely, meaning that you would buy one in a lifetime and that built-in-disposability would become a thing of the past. Freed from onerous work we would concentrate on the higher things, no doubt, poetry, love, the cultivation of interpersonal relationships and so on. You may well say, on reflection, that my father was naive, but this was a broadly held notion at the time, that technology was liberating and fundamentally, would liberate us from work. The machines would suffer for us, they would produce vastly more than we could manage to and we would live on the fruit of their labour

… and what will be left of them?.

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