The Last Profession
A Science-Fiction sketch
Consider this video:
“Humans Need Not Apply”.
What happens when all the jobs are done better by robots? Let’s call that the Economic Singularity. Will there be guaranteed income? Oligarchy of the few owners? Population implosion? (Fast or slow?) And what’s more, isn’t this a failure of success; the ironic consequence of desire granted? What is freedom after the death of wage slavery?
I predict that the last profession to fall will be the oldest. First prostitution will be the last work left; then they’ll legalize it, then unionize it, with high wages, benefits and pensions; but that’ll create market incentive to automate it!
So here’s a sketch of a science-fiction story, titled “The Last Profession”. It is set in a society with a Basic Income; plus some rewards for individual creative work; and massive riches for the few big owners. For almost all forms of labor, robots are faster, cheaper, safer and better; so the masses are stuck on Basic Income. A few people innovate fast enough to keep ahead of their copycats, and maintain precarious prosperity. A very few immensely wealthy own the robots and the patents, renewed in perpetuity.
Since Basic Income is not enough to save, or raise a family, only innovators and owners can do so. The poorest are strongly encouraged not to reproduce, as they are unemployable; hence this is a period where the human population is declining.
As part of the deep state’s antinatalism, they legalize prostitution. It’s protected, regulated, licensed and taxed. It has no shortage of workers, for little other work is available. The sex workers themselves have a dispute over what to call themselves. “Sex workers” is the norm, but a few radical types insist on being called “whores”. Those radicals proceed to unionize. After organizing, Whores Local 101 makes demands, goes on strikes, fights with cops and scabs; the usual labor history. Eventually the Whores win good wages, better working conditions, overtime, holidays, benefits and pensions.
But these victories for labor create market forces favoring automation. The sex-bot is pioneered in Japan, of course, as an outlet for unmarriageable men. At first rare, expensive, primitive and ridiculed, these toys grow in sophistication and popularity, and undercut the sex-worker market, for the usual technological reasons. (Cheaper, safer, better.) Also they fit into the deep state’s antinatalist plans.
Lily, one of the radical unionists, confronts Nikki 3000, the latest model. She learns, to her horror, that the sex-bot is her profession’s worst nightmare; the Amateur. The gizmo is programmed to like its work! In fact it’s not work to it at all, it’s its way of being! It does not fear pregnancy or disease; it demands no money; it has no existence other than sex. It’s even programmed to like its customers; it’s pleased to please them! It is the cybernetic fulfillment of a male fantasy; the perfect whore.
So what then? Do the robots and their owners win, and the oldest profession is the last? With even whoring obsolete, what work is there for anyone ever? What liberty or servitude after the death of wage-slavery?
Perhaps some of the Whores become madames over stables of their own sex-bots; some fall down to Basic; some take up with innovators and owners.
But if population is falling, then land is freeing up. Perhaps Lily and her friends take over some land, bring in some robots, and so become small owners on their own. True independence at last? Adam’s curse lifted?
*Snort* What robots can’t do is anything new, imaginative, or creative. Come to think of it, neither can bureaucrats. I can readily foresee a world in which everybody gets a guaranteed minimum income, but you get paid decently above that for invention and creation. *Snicker* And don’t tell me that ‘sex-workers’ don’t have to be imaginative!
The video addressed the creativity question. I think he has a point that there can’t be an art-based economy. An art-based culture, yes, and even an art-based spirituality; but not a market, not if the art is mass.
Robots have fast massive search, which can simulate human creativity. What constitutes real creativity or intelligence is mysterious, partly because we keep moving the goalposts, to protect human vanity.
I’m not sure that markets value creativity. They prefer predictable mediocrity. Sure, a few will want to buy unique work, or even risky work, but such patrons are rare, and they have their own agendas.