Tech Will Allow a Family to Live Well on $3500 per Year

So far, I’ve talked about some of the downsides of the massive change from AI and path dependency:

I wrote about how being compensated for our data might be a way out. But what about some other potential good news?

“Competing Without Software Is Like Competing Without Electricity” – Naval Ravikant

As technology impacts every industry and becomes as ubiquitous as electricity, we will see the vast majority of industries behave like the computer and software industries do: getting better each year, while deflating in price.

As Sam Altman, the head of YCombinator puts it:

“The thing most people get wrong is that if labor costs go to zero”—because smart robots have eaten all the jobs—“the cost of a great life comes way down. If we get fusion to work and electricity is free, then transportation is substantially cheaper, and the cost of electricity flows through to water and food. People pay a lot for a great education now, but you can become expert level on most things by looking at your phone.

So, if an American family of four now requires seventy thousand dollars to be happy, which is the number you most often hear, then in ten to twenty years it could be an order of magnitude cheaper, with an error factor of 2x. Excluding the cost of housing, thirty-five hundred to fourteen thousand dollars could be all a family needs to enjoy a really good life.”

If we can reduce the cost of a great life to $3500/year + rent, we could have a world where basic income grants, micropayments or some other small amount of income could work extremely well. More people could live great lives.

Some of the potential downsides:

  • Will people feel valued if they don’t need to work?
  • Will people with idle hands create problems in society even if they have all basic needs taken care of
  • Or will they be content with having healthcare, a place to live and all the comforts of a nice life and the entire internet, vr entertainment and more at their fingertips?

Some people think that idle hands will create massive social unrest, but I’m coming around to the idea that a big percentage will be happy with “living well.” Some will not be, as they’ll want more meaning than entertainment, food, healthcare and a place to live. And hopefully they will have opportunities to explore their human creativity.  This balancing act between living well and idle hands may be the key to making our future into a great one, rather than a dystopian one.

Photo credit: 401(K) 2012