Building a Postwork Utopia: Technological Unemployment, Life Extension and the Future of Human Flourishing

In Kevin Lagrandeur & James Hughes (eds.), Surviving the Machine Age. Palgrave-MacMillan. pp. 63-82 (2017)
Authors
John Danaher
University College, Galway
Abstract
Populations in developed societies are rapidly aging: fertility rates are at all-time lows while life expectancy creeps ever higher. This is triggering a social crisis in which shrinking youth populations are required to pay for the care and retirements of an aging majority. Some people argue that by investing in the right kinds of lifespan extension technology – the kind that extends the healthy and productive phases of life – we can avoid this crisis (thereby securing a ‘longevity dividend’). This chapter argues that this longevity dividend is unlikely to be paid if lifespan extension coincides with rampant technological unemployment. This does not mean that we should not pursue lifespan extension, but it does mean that the argument in its favor needs to rest on other grounds. After articulating these grounds, the chapter proceeds to consider the implications this has for our vision of the extended life, postwork utopia. It argues that this vision may need to be reconceived and suggests that one plausible reconception involves prioritizing the role of games in the well-lived life.
Keywords Technological Unemployment  Longevity  Life Extension  Utopia  Games  Longevity Dividend  Flourishing  Eudaimonia
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