Summary of “When Work and Meaning Part Ways”

The American work ethic is built on a promise: Work hard, and you’ll earn more than just money.
There are only two problems with the work ethic today: Work doesn’t reliably deliver the social, moral, and spiritual goods it promises, and artificial intelligence is about to render the work ethic moot.
The very meaning of work is in jeopardy right now, and a big reason is that we expect too much meaning from work.
Many office workers repeatedly perform a narrow range of mental, physical, and emotional actions on the job, and when they’re done for the day, they may change out of a work suit, but they can’t change out of their work self.
So what should we do? Repair the whole rickety heap of our work ideology? Redesign work so that it delivers the dignity, character, and purpose it’s supposed to? Pass laws that limit employers’ control over workers’ bodies and public behavior? Push for transparency regarding the actions workers perform, and establish norms that they specialize less narrowly and have rotating duties? Set humane limits on service work and eliminate the pointless tasks most professionals do during the workday? It wouldn’t hurt to try.
In an important respect, the robot revolution at work would solve all the problems with work’s failure to deliver on the work ethic’s promise.
Our work subjects us to corporate tyranny-yet 80 percent of us say we’re “Hardworking” and not lazy.20 Our work warps us and burns us out-yet we report the highest employee engagement in the wealthy, industrialized world.
Will the idea that time is valuable make sense in a society without jobs, once people are no longer paid for their time? Will universal education make sense, once schools are no longer educating everyone for the work force? Will old age make sense as a well-earned rest after a lifetime of labor? How long will it take marital and child-rearing norms to respond to the reality that there is no such thing as a “Breadwinner”? The end of work calls everything into question.

The orginal article.