I was struck by Professor Hawking’s answer to a really fascinating question. It was his last comment on Reddit before he died. The thread was an AMA (Ask Me Anything). Unsurprisingly the answer not only rocketed to the top of Reddit recently, but as users have noted, Hawking’s answer contains a truly challenging and poignant thought about the future.
The question, boiled down and summarized, was given technological advancement and ever more automated processes that used to be done by human beings, do you believe mass amounts of people could lose their jobs and not being able to find anymore work? Or will there always be jobs and new technologies that create more careers for people?
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.