“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality,” wrote Stephen Hawking in an October question-and-answer series on the website Reddit.
Stephen Hawking is arguably the most revered scientist on the planet. Therefore, his response to a question asked about the results of “technological unemployment” produced by automation is giving rise to a growing debate. At the center of that debate is the future of the human race. Will the majority of us be “miserably poor,” or will all of us “enjoy a life of luxurious leisure?” The tiny class of capitalists who own the machines have made their choice of a future. Have you made yours?