In my previous two tech tirades, I attacked the notion that current technologies make life easier. However, such technologies are leading to what some are calling a third industrial revolution. In The Oxford Handbook of Skills and Training, Stuart Elliot predicts that in the near future, robots and artificial intelligence will be replacing up to 80% of the workforce. Most of our home-life will also be automated. Our refrigerators will be ordering groceries, which will be delivered by self-driving cars. Our HVAC systems will decide just how warm or cool our houses should be. Robot vacuum cleaners will be cleaning our floors. Our wearable smart technology will tell us how much exercise we must do, and what foods we must eat. Other robots will do our exercise and cook. With everything being done for us, what are we to do? Where will we work? Will we work at all? How will we find adventure in our lives when everything from the difficult to the mundane is automated? Human beings were made to work.
Rebelling Against the Cultural Mandate
People around the world hate their jobs. This loathing of labor can lead to innovation that lessens work’s burdens. Such innovation is a good thing, making lives somewhat easier without replacing work altogether; yet, people even hate easy jobs. This dislike of effort reveals our rebellious nature, which fights against the purposes for which we were originally made.
In the beginning, God created humankind to exercise dominion, ruling as God’s representatives on the earth.1 Man was to exercise dominion over the earth by working and keeping it.2 God gave this cultural mandate to humanity before Adam sinned bringing God’s curse upon humanity. Thus, work is not a result of the fall, but God’s original good intent for humanity to rule over the earth as His representatives. Throughout the Bible, the law, psalms, and prophets all condemned laziness as a foolish, self-destructive lifestyle.3 Laziness is seeking rest without any previous physical, mental, or spiritual labor or exhaustion. Laziness is rebellion against the rest given by God through the work of Christ.4 A fully automated life would be a life of slothful rebellion.
The Impossible Economy of the Third Industrial Revolution
Although this future scenario is a lazy man’s dream, a fully automated economy is impossible to sustain. If the majority of people were to become unemployed, fighting for the remaining 20% of jobs that will exist, very few will be able to afford the fully automated lifestyle. Many will be unemployed, with little money to spend. With very few people spending money on goods, fully automated industries may collapse or sell off their robots for a readily available, desperate, and cheap human labor force.
Whatever the future holds, the quality of our work, discipline, and dilligence will show whether we desire to be slaves of our own sloth ready for destruction, or to be stewards of our labors ready for the true rest to come.