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The future of work and leisure

  • by JW

The Sid Valley economy relies on low-wage tourism:

Low wage seaside

We need to update that image perhaps:

The secret behind Scarborough’s success > “the perfect balance between traditional seaside charm and up-to-date attractions that appeal to people of all ages”

And the Town Council are doing just that:

Sidmouth: ‘A not so hidden national treasure’


We have to look beyond the minimum-wage work in hotels and shops, in warehouses and on farms – especially as more of this will be automated:

Futures Forum: Automation and the future of work > How secure are East Devon’s new warehousing jobs?

Futures Forum: Artificial Intelligence on the farm > software, hydroponics and reducing costs


And we have to look to how the changing nature of retirement is changing how we see our ‘leisure’…


There are some good ideas out there:

Futures Forum: Universal Basic Income in Finland > “giving people free money doesn’t encourage them to stay unemployed” – rather, “participants were happier, healthier, less stressed”

Futures Forum: Power-relations and control > “Who will own the future?” > on Artificial Intelligence, Universal Basic Income and the potential threats from automation


And this weekend’s Archive Hour on Radio 4 looked at how we’ll need to face up to the challenges:


The Problem of Leisure

Documentary-maker Phil Tinline explores the history of a phantom fear – that automation will make work redundant, and leave us nothing to do.

In 1930, JM Keynes predicted a 15-hour week by 2030 – but worried that, if the idle rich were anything to go by, we might struggle to spend our time wisely. In Depression America, well-meaning social reformers were aghast at how Americans were spending their growing free time. The New Deal tried to coax people away from malign pursuits like jazz dancing in favour of outdoor pursuits and communal dancing.

After the War, modern computing triggered fresh visions of ordinary people rendered redundant by the machines, and rebelling against the managers and engineers who now ruled them. But by the 1990s, all this had faded once more, in favour of the opposite worry: overwork. So what can we learn from this today, as the anxiety floods back amid stories about AI – captured in books like The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass Unemployment? Will we finally confront the problem of leisure?

The Problem of Leisure | 

Free photo Looking Beach Seagull Coast Sea Tranquil Lonely – Max Pixel