A Better Answer to the Big Question

Have you ever been at a party, maybe work related, maybe something for the holidays, and someone asks you that dreaded question? The question that is so inevitable, we can’t seem to escape it. The Big Question. Like, the future of the universe depended on someone knowing the answer.

“So, what do you do?”


They’re obviously asking about your job. Our jobs do not necessarily define us. They can if cocktailonewe want or need them to. But they don’t have to. Maybe, it’s because statistically, we probably spend more time at work than with our loved ones.

But that’s a whole other story.

I never answer “The Big Question” with anything expected. I’m more prone to say something like, “I dream about being the last person boarding the final space ship from Earth before the big asteroid collision. After me, there’s only enough room for one more animal. It’s either going to be a snake or a tiger. Which one do I bring with me?”

Usually, the look on my fellow party goer’s face is quite bewildered. They stare for a short moment, then add, “I meant, what do you do for a living?”

No More Work

I’ve heard rumors of the impending robot takeover. It’s coming. Nobody will work. We’ll live in a utopian future where benevolent machines watch over us, feed us, love us, and also, work the jobs humans used to.

Humans won’t be employed anymore. We won’t have to be.

Our waiters, our bartenders, our checkout clerks, our taxi drivers, will all be robots. And that’s fine.

cocktailtwoIt’ll free up so much brain power for the planet. Think of all the humans suddenly not having to sell corn chips all day long to angry customers tired of waiting in long lines. Perhaps that checkout person could figure out how to terraform a distant planet if we only gave them the free time, away from work, to dream up the techniques?

Again, I’m dreaming, really, and I’m totally ignoring so many other questions of economics, society, plausibility, etc. . . to get to my even bigger point.
What Now?

In the future, when there are no more human jobs, you’ll likely go to a party. Maybe even a holiday party. I’m sure holidays will still exist in the future.

And someone will probably ask you the Big Question: “So, what do you do?”

You may have to think about your answer. What do you do in the post-everything robot-controlled future? It will finally be an interesting question to ask people.

Hopefully, your answer will be something like, “I help people. I create a greater value for the planet than when I first arrived. It was worth it that I consumed all those non-renewable resources for all those years in order to feed my brain. Because look what I do with all that mental power. Isn’t that wonderful?”

Hopefully, the other person will just shake their head in agreement and astonishment.

Here’s the Clincher.

That answer, the one from the future, the one you’ll give at the post-work holiday party.

Think about it. Think hard.

You’ll need this answer pretty soon. In fact, you’ll need it today.

Because it’s the exact answer you should give the next time someone asks you “And what do you do?”

Stop telling people what you do for a living. Pretend the post-work future is now.

Here. Let’s get started.

“It’s so nice to make your acquaintance, faithful and intelligent reader. It’s a pleasure to meet you. And what do you do?”


About Blog Boss

Jim MacKenzie and Sarah Giavedoni are the creators of the blogs Stuff Monsters Like, the Incredible Vanishing Paperweight, and more. When they are not blogging, they are devoted to managing the Asheville Blogger Society, watching movies, running a completely unrelated nonprofit, and making money at their paid employment.
This entry was posted in Cultural Commentary, Futurism and the Tomorrow Mill and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A Better Answer to the Big Question

  1. Craig C says:

    A lot of food for thought here. I see “robotization” as akin to “globalization”, just another dimension of the ongoing commoditization of human endeavors. I am not so optimistic to posit that, as human endeavors become commoditized, we will be (economically) able to replace those activiites with more personally meaningful ones. It could be that people will find themselves on the outside looking in, as more and more of the tasks necessary to maintain an economy are performed by AI devices. Unless the skills of the populace continue to outstrip those of AI devices, the traditionally-heralded “life of leisure” that robots are supposed to afford will instead be for most a “life of low-grade barely-affordable getting-by.” I fear it is a race to the bottom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_to_the_bottom

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