Jeeni has returned to Crowdcube to raise more funds for helping new talent. Jeeni founding director Mel Croucher says, “I admit we’re ahead of our original schedule, but there’s still so much more to do. We need to scale our online platform globally now and build our mass artist showcases. Then we can hit all our targets, and give our new artists the recognition they deserve.” If you want to see our pitch click HERE.
Mel has been writing the best-loved column in top-selling tech magazines for over 30 years. Now he’s agreed to share his work with all our members. He’s a video games pioneer and musician, and to to find out more about Mel check out his Wikipedia page. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Croucher. Here’s one of Mel’s latest!
One bright Autumn morning, my grandfather was killed by a rubbish truck. He got run over crossing the road on his regular walk to work. He was 84. And I am comforted to know that he loved his work as much as he loved his walk. As for me, I have yet to reach that ripe old age but I am still working most hours, most days. It's not so much that I love my work, more that I don't know what else to do. When I was younger, so much younger than today, I was promised a sci-fi world where all labour would be performed by robots, leaving us humans to enjoy a more meaningful existence. Before my grandfather was born, Karl Marx wrote that in a mechanised society workers would be freed from the monotony of work to “hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, criticise after dinner.” My grandfather certainly never saw such a sci-fi world or Marxist society, and I'm still waiting for it. But the way things are going I may not have to wait much longer for robots to take over the tedium of work.
Judging by their behaviour, I suspect that most telemarketers, receptionists, estate agents and bar tenders were replaced by robots ages ago. And for drivers, machine operators and manual workers, it can only be only a matter of time. The first robot aircraft pilot took to the skies then navigated flawlessly and landed safely way back in 1947. Robots have been successfully conducting complex heart surgery since 2004. Artificial intelligence has already reached the cognitive power of a nine year-old human, in which case it is qualified to run for President of the USA in November. But do we really need political leaders to tell us how best to fill our waking hours? If we can develop all these technological wonders then we should be smart enough to work it out for ourselves.
Our waking hours are dominated by work, whether we are in work or not. Strikers are depicted as troublemakers. Artists are depicted as idle. The poor are depicted as scroungers. The state cajoles the unemployed, the sick and the disabled to get off their arses and work. We are educated with the goal of work in mind, then having worked all our lives we are grudgingly handed back a mingy pension which we paid for in the first place. The idealised worker works in order to pay the childminder, the Deliveroo driver, the dog walker, the baker, the brewer, the app maker, because the idealised worker has no time left for such things. The idealised worker is too busy working to do any of these things for herself.
For huge numbers of us the significance of the old certainties of community, religion, politics, and even family, have all fallen away to be replaced by work. For huge numbers of us work is how we give our lives meaning, while at the same time work has become more precarious, more impersonal, more stressful, and the app-driven gig economy is a perfect example of this. Yet everybody knows that automation is already capable of doing most manual jobs of work, and now artificial intelligence is predicted as achieving the capability of taking over most desk-bound jobs too. Since the pandemic, the entire framework of work is falling apart.
But as a species we are not hardwired to work for a living. We never have been. We were lied to by those who said we must work, either to deserve a mythological afterlife, or protect an artificial realm, or for supposed honour, or someone else's glory, or for tokens of currency that can only be spent at the store owned by the company that issues those tokens in the first place. But of course all of those motivations are a con. And an obvious con at that.
So here's the thing. Now we have cheap reliable technology, let's get all the robots to do as much of the muscle work as they can, and let's get all the artificial intelligences to do as much of the brain work as they can. Then let's redistribute the remaining working hours evenly to we the people, and in return pay ourselves some of that fabricated stuff called money so we can buy good food and decent shelter. By my reckoning six hours a day, three days a week will do nicely to pick up the slack left by the robots. Work needn't be useless. Work includes child-rearing, caring for the elderly and protecting the vulnerable. It also includes growing food, dreaming up new businesses and fixing the tap. And work includes creating music and dance and poetry and streaming it on Jeeni.com. It is self-evident that all valid work is worth the same valid reward. This is not a Marxist idea, or even a socialist proposal. It's the Tories who bang on about work being such a good thing and everyone pulling their weight, and I completely agree with them. Margaret Thatcher, that champion of work culture, said, “The heresies of one period become the orthodoxies of the next.” Yes indeedy, so bring on the robots and the electronic brains. If work is such a good thing then let everyone have a go for a few hours a week for a universal payment. And don't worry about how the payment is distributed, the accounts have all been reckoned by computers for years.
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