Yuval Noah Harari’s book, Homo Deus, predicts that a world could emerge where even our choices are relegated to technology. Body monitors tracking physical reactions and lifetime patterns may be better than our own minds for deciding marital partners and every other conceivable choice. Harari notes that the common robo-future dystopia of machines becoming self-aware and deciding to eradicate humanity is the far less likely and less scary option. More likely, the technology will work perfectly, freeing us from any inconvenience such as living life.
Humans are not fulfilled by gifts and creature comforts. These enhance life’s immense richness, but few lessons are better documented than the terrible angst and dissatisfaction that follows hedonistic orgies of consumption. Rather, humans need a sense of competency and connection to thrive. People need to feel authentic and a part of something greater than themselves where they offer essential contribution.
Automation can offer free time to feed our better nature, or mindless distraction to enslave us to a need for evermore mindless consumption. Technology can work with us to empower what is beautiful about humanity, or cause us to lose it all together. Culture is our power. Art is our power. Humanity is more than any mechanization. Adversity and problems are what give life meaning. We are not at a loss for major problems- we’re at a loss for the inclination to act.