My latest Locus column is “Full Employment,” in which I forswear “Fully Automated Luxury Communism” as totally incompatible with the climate emergency, which will consume 100%+ of all human labor for centuries to come.
This fact is true irrespective of any breakthroughs in AI OR geoengineering. Technological unemployment is vastly oversold and overstated (for example, that whole thing about truck drivers is bullshit).
But even if we do manage to automate away all of jobs, the climate emergency demands unimaginably labor intensive tasks for hundreds of years – jobs like relocating every coastal city inland, or caring for hundreds of millions of refugees.
Add to those: averting the exinctions of thousands of species, managing wave upon wave of zoonotic and insect-borne plagues, dealing with wildfires and tornados, etc.
And geoengineering won’t solve this: we’ve sunk a lot of heat into the oceans. It’s gonna warm them up. That’s gonna change the climate. It’s not gonna be good. Heading this off doesn’t just involve repealing thermodynamics – it also requires a time-machine.
But none of this stuff is insurmountable – it’s just hard. We CAN do this stuff. If you were wringing your hands about unemployed truckers, good news! They’ve all got jobs moving thousands of cities inland!
It’s just (just!) a matter of reorienting our economy around preserving our planet and our species.
And yeah, that’s hard, too – but if “the economy” can’t be oriented to preserving our species, we need a different economy.