It was only fifty years ago, but it was soooooooo long ago, too. It was difficult to get used to, of course, but it was certainly welcomed. Now that it was no longer necessary to work, we all had the complete freedom to do anything we wished. And, the agent of change has been the robot, in the home and in the factories.
I know, I know, some of you don’t believe it. Those of you too young can’t imagine what it was like to spend at least a third of each twenty-four hour weekday in the workplace. Because the cities were so spread out, we had to drive long distances to arrive at our places of employment, and then periodically, when we received payment for our servitude, the government took a large slice of the money to support the necessary (as well as the unnecessary programs) under its management (mis-management?). Day after day, week after week, long years spent away from our homes, shackled to desks, to machines, to serving counters – and, for the most part, it was mind-numbing work.
Now, of course, none of that is required. We don’t have to go to workplaces because everything is provided without cost, so no money is needed. All of the wealth was put exactly where it was needed – in the hands of the robots that now took care of our needs. Can you imagine being on the operating table under the knife of an actual human surgeon? Of course not – robots do it effortlessly, never tiring, never making a mistake. We have to convalesce, just as in the old days, but now robot nurses staff the hospitals. At home, our food is provided, all vegetable, as you know, harvested by large autonomic harvesters, cooked and packaged in shiny stainless prep rooms (I almost used the word ‘kitchens’ – another archaic term).
Years ago, we longed for travel and leisure. It’s available for everyone now, not just the wealthy. Our fusion-powered vehicles take us down safe corridors wherever we want to go, automatically driving our like-interest groups (I almost said ‘families’ here – archaic, again) to any destination. Air travel is even simpler, now that we have aircraft that can land anywhere without need for an airport.
I know I’m telling you things you already know, but it’s worth reviewing. So many of us can’t appreciate just how wonderful our lives are. For instance, do you think you’d really enjoy raising your own children? Of course not! And, since there are fewer and fewer children every year, the robots are getting even better at arranging the schedules and activities of the young people. It’s nice not having the little people underfoot, isn’t it? Also, I’m not sure childbirth is something we want to continue. The scientists think that just maybe there’s another way – we’ll see.
Our lives have been eased and better-structured in so many ways. Our clothing comes from automatic factories, no cleaning required since we just discard them every day. It once was necessary to visit ‘stores’ to gather items to take to our houses, but the tube-delivery system allows everything to be auto-delivered right to our houses. Actually, there’s very little reason to go anywhere, now that I think about it. Video conferencing to simulate social events, automatically prepared foods, twenty-four hour entertainment pumped into our houses… what more could we want?
One disturbing thing – there are rumors of Luddite groups springing up. They say they are driven by boredom. What can that mean? How can we be bored? Isn’t this what we wanted?