Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have a “George Jettson” view of life. The 1960s era cartoon featured computers doing all the work while humans luxuriated.
Google founders: People will be able to work part-time in a robot filled future
In a rare joint interview, the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) co-founders have the luxury to say that people will be able to work part-time in a robot filled future while maintaining a Utopian lifestyle. The reality for working Americans who are paid a salary is that competition in the work place has been forcing reduction in salaries and benefits, as a free market forces tend to do.
“If you really think about the things you need to make yourself happy — housing, security, opportunity for your kids … it’s not that hard for us to provide those things,” Page said. “The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is not true.”
While this may be true for the one percent who own successful companies or hold the majority of assets, people in the working world are struggling even harder as technology has expanded the workforce to enable competition from around the world. Nonetheless Page said the world should be living in a “time of abundance” in which robots and machines could help meet everyone’s basic needs much more easily. Now here Page begins to touch on an interesting topic. Google is a tech leader in robotic development, having recently acquired Boston Dynamics, which has government contracts to purchase what are currently expensive robots.
Google founder Larry Page: Robots will provide more time with family
As robots make society more productive, Page said he believed people would be happy to “have more time with their family or to pursue their own interests.” Well this isn’t exactly breaking news. Of course people would like more time with their families and to pursue new interests, but the only ones to afford this luxury are the owners of assets in society. The issue is not that people want this, but is computer technology leading in this direction? It hasn’t to date and free market forces will likely continue to dictate that corporations reduce costs where they can. Offering the same amount of money for less work when the supply of workers is increasing doesn’t pass the free market smell test.
Now firmly in the one percent of American society, Page seems to think computers will create a world where people no longer need to work, but his partner Brin has a slightly different take. “I don’t think that in the near term, the need for labor is going away,” Brin said. “It gets shifted from one place to another, but people always want more stuff or more entertainment or more creativity or more something.”
It remains to be seen if American workers will be able to work less and make more money. For the founders of Google this may be the case. For average workers who are constantly being squeezed by corporations looking to cut costs and generate higher earnings, not so much.