It is 2050.
There are few humans on the street. City infrastructures have changed. What used to be office parks and sprawling office buildings are mostly demolished (some of the tech park variety are now museums). Laptops are too ancient to exist, technology is now implanted in the fingers, eyes, brains and blood. Where there are offices/ manufacturing facilities, there are fewer humans and mostly humanoids, that are sentient. The concept of the workplace does not exist.
It is 2050 and most jobs that existed 25 years back, no longer do. Humans are required, though, to instruct and govern machines, but only that. Also, workplaces don’t hire in lakhs anymore. The few humans who are hired or do work have common traits.
- The power to connect dots
- Social skills/ coexistence with humanoids as well as other humans
The future as described, is nearer than it appears. Humanoids are predicted to take over the human population by 2040. ChatGPT is already displacing many jobs. It is hard to distinguish between real people and deep fakes and it is no longer rocket science to virtually replicate the human voice, face or skill sets for that matter. In the world of AI, humans seem most expendable. In the 2000s we spoke of policies that can humanise the workplace and in 2023, we are questioning the existence of humanity itself. This paper by Anna-Sofia Lesiv, chronicles the short history of AI and describes how the machine learning revolution, in a short span, has been more impactful than the Industrial and Scientific Revolution combined.
Coexisting with machine learning/ AI/ humanoids (call it what you may, is inevitable). Don’t be surprised if you see Chat-GPT plugins soon. This piece published in The Irish Times in 2001, summarises what the fear of the internet looked like in the late 90s and early 2000s. We are at the precipice of something similar. Back then, humans adapted and now the internet is a core part of our lives, I see that happening with AI too. Though, this time the question is will it replace our species and make us redundant at work?
Back to 2050.
It is hard to distinguish between a human and a machine. Humans come with plugins that can capture their memories and dreams and implants that monitor their health and imagination. Humans can work from anywhere and since they are their own workplace, they can also work from Mars, which they mostly do. In 2050, humanising the workplace is a redundant concept. Humanising is almost derogatory. The preference is to be quasi-humanoid and even workplace policies no longer look the same.
When the human is enmeshed with the machine, choices, lifestyle, health and entertainment take a completely new avatar. Important workplace policies therefore are for the quasi-humanoid and not solely for the human or machine. After deep deliberation the Quasi-Humanoid Society of Governance (QHSG) came up with the quasi-humanoid code that looks something like this.
You can work from anywhere; provided it is a place and not your head.
In 2050, the concept of work visas does not exist. In fact there are no visas or work/ travel permits. How can there be, when the body itself can function like the now-redundant laptop? Of course citizens can work from anywhere, provided it is not their head, as mental health continues to remain a killer of productivity. Citizens now travel freely to Mars (many small planets can be inhabited too) and it is preferred they work from there among other beings and not in the isolation of their thoughts.
Thou shall not fall in love with thyself or any sentient machine.
Back in the day, workplaces were worried about employees dating each other and had to create workplace dating policies like this. In 2050, no one is worried about humans dating each other. The bigger worry is falling in love with oneself or other sentient machines. Now, technically, the entire race is quasi-humanoid, however, falling in love is still precarious. The colossal damage is not as much about emotions as it is about POSH laws and consent. Any self-respecting humanoid can respect itself, but what if it falls in love with itself - the QSHG is still figuring it out.
You can only work 18 hours a day, machines need to rest too.
In 2023, it took about 1.278 gigawatt hours (that is roughly the electricity consumption of 120 homes) to train GPT. Now, while GPT is fully trained, it still consumes a lot of energy to stay active. So, while the full work potential of every quasi-humanoid is 24/7/365, the QHSG has regulated a work day of 18 hours and not more. While electricity is also a redundant concept, renewable energy and climate disasters make it impossible to be 100% functional. Unfortunately, the work day is still not 24/7/365.
The concept of leaves does not exist. Workplaces encourage quasi-humanoids to ‘switch-off’ instead.
The QHSG in 2050, is an extremely caring and human-centric body. Though, its biggest adversary is the climate. There is no way to predict storms, snow or natural disasters and while they do not affect the quasi-humanoid anymore, they definitely affect the production of energy. Hence, it is important for quasi-humanoids to ‘switch-off’. However, they cannot do that on their own. It requires a process of application and that can only be done by stating the reason to ‘switch-off’. Many quasi-humanoids are known to take advantage of the switch-off mode (apparently), as it helps avoid burnout (not in the 2023 way).
Retire at 100.
While the QHSG is extremely progressive and forward thinking, it still believes in retirement. Quasi-humanoids can live much longer and immortality is not very far away. Yet, QHSG has set the retirement age at 100, so that quasi-humanoids can engage in resetting and learning new skill sets. It takes an average quasi-humanoid 24 hours to master a new skill set, though after retirement, it can take 48 hours to do so. It can also pursue other interests and hobbies and indulge in community and giving-back activities. Which are mostly around energy saving and ‘switching-off’.
Only this time, there is no application required.