There had been unrest in the service industry ever since the earlier legislation allowing AI robotic service providers to replace humans had been passed.  The legislation required each individual AI unit to pass all required exams, met all required practice and residency requirements, and prominently disclose that it was an AI unit.  Given that an AI surgeon required approximately 2 weeks to download all required knowledge and another three months to master simulations of all know surgical techniques there were significant cost savings to be had using AI.

This world began in earnest when yoga teachers, medical professionals, and tradespeople formed an alliance to protest new federal robotic privacy rights regulations that would remove the requirement to disclose whether or not a service provider was AI or human.  The regulations were backed by a small number of technology companies that wanted to expand faster into the service industries.

While the guaranteed minimum income provisions ensured that no surgeons were starving, they did little to compensate for the fact that robotic AI surgeons were billing at a fraction of their human counterparts.  Humans had largely made peace with the earlier regulations by ensuring themselves that they provided a personal touch that AI could not deliver.

Now, with the proposed new robotic privacy rights regulation, most people would never know if they had a human or robotic surgeon, yoga teacher, dentist, plumber, accountant or lawyer.  The robotic privacy rights legislation would allow AI units to present themselves as fully human when questioned unless it was by law enforcement with a warrant to determine their actual status.  The companies backing the privacy rights legislation said it was necessary to prevent discrimination and property damage against AI units.

Human Conversations

There had been a leveling across the social spectrum as AI had evolved to the point where it could replace almost any human activity. Humans no longer considered themselves superior because of the type of work they performed, since pretty much an job could be replaced by AI.  One upside to the new way of life was that a lot of people had a lot of time on their hands.   Now people started talking in person with each other about the new legislation.

The big questions on everyone’s mind where the same as they have always been:  What did it mean to be human?  Why were we here?  What was the best way to live?  Once upon a time these questions could only be pondered by kings and queens in their castles and holy people as they watched the world go by.  Now everyone had enough time on their hands to consider them.

The great leveling added a new element to the mix. Now the yoga teachers shared 3,000 year old wisdom with physicists and plumbers. Neurosurgeons and carpenters traded best practices on how your brain learns and how to build a vacation cabin. Everyone participated on an equal footing.  A new mood began to emerge. There were larger purposes to life than serving as a cog in the economy.

A consensus developed that human flourishing was not possible in the presence of excessive AI.  But, how much AI was excessive?  That was the big question.  Where to draw the line? Eventually they worked things out. They found a way.

Human Self Determination

Of course, at first the AI developers argued and fought against the regulations saying the world would end if AI were not allowed to replace all humans in the economy.  Eventually they were overruled.  Life changed.  Cutting edge research gradually turned away from the endless rush towards ever more speed and power towards a more refined and elegant desire to provide the right mix of capabilities to maximize human flourishing and ensure human self determination.

Dealing with the whole AI question freed people.  They gave themselves permission to step off of the treadmill of the industrial economy. This is when the new 32 hour workweek grew in popularity. In most regions it ended up as something like: 16 hours a week on economic activity, generating goods and services in return for a fee; 8 hours a week on community activities, which were not assigned any economic value; 4 hours a week on personal growth and 4 hours a week on entertainment (two hours helping provide entertainment and two hours as part of an audience).

There was a broad understanding that if people skipped community activities, personal growth or entertainment they would be less mature and less functionally socially.  They would therefore be more likely to engage in activities that cost society time and money to deal with. It was considered a medically treatable condition if anyone spent more than 16 hours per week on economic activity.

This world eventually grew into the world we know now with a heavy emphasis on human development.  Strong individual personal connections to the natural world and human communities, on both the physical and non physical levels, became a hallmark of this world.

Readers may find this interesting:  https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/robotics/medical-robots/autonomous-robot-surgeon-bests-human-surgeons-in-world-first

For more thoughts on future worlds click here.