In a world fully controlled by an AI, humans have every basic need they may want. This includes housing and food, and also health related needs.

Also humans do not give birth anymore, the process is taken care from the AI, so there are no families in the traditional sense.

Furthermore, this AI is perceived as a god for the humans on its rule, so there is a cult that enforces this belief while trying to understand its nature and behaviour. There are no government nor political organisations.

In here, what would be the jobs people would still do in their day to day? I guess the cult would enforce the assignment of these jobs, but all of the jobs i can come up seem either too basic for a person and not a machine to do them, or meaningless taken for all of the people (like you can have for example some artists, but it makes no sense for the whole population to be artists).

EDIT: This is not a duplicate of AI and Jobs: How would AI change the job market because there the premise is that AI is part of the job market. My postulate is that AI goal is to keep people thriving, but takes no part on job/leisure life. This, then, is not slavery for the machine, but for the people, who are doomed to live life the way the AI designed the world.

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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of AI and Jobs: How would AI change the job market $\endgroup$ – Mołot Oct 3 '18 at 7:29
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    $\begingroup$ I just want to point out that there are so many different professions. I am too lazy to look it up, but I'm sure it's a very high number. This is just me, but if I were you, I would at the very least try to focus on some area, e.g. child care, landscaping, education, religion, construction ... and see what is possible there. You would be surprised how much money there is in some areas for people doing things that you'd think can be done by machines - just because there are not a lot of people still able to do it. $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Oct 3 '18 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ Ps: classic sci fi idea, but really, you can have any job you like if you are smart about it. Nobody can give you a complete list though, which is why I would focus the question more. $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Oct 3 '18 at 7:54
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    $\begingroup$ Recommended reading (for a world where all needs are taken care of by "the system" and all humans activities revolve around entertainment and socializing) Don't bite the sun by Tanith Lee. $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Oct 3 '18 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ People will do what they want to do. That may or may not make it a 'job' - that term is deeply tied to Economics, of which you have removed a big chunk. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Oct 3 '18 at 12:08

Why does it make no sense for the whole population to be artists?

Food, water, security, anything handled by the AI is free and therefore any jobs producing those things have no ‘worth’ to society (some humans may enjoy doing those jobs, but I’ll come to that later). The jobs that provide ‘worth’ are those that make other humans feel something. Therapists, artists, actors, singers etc. I might perform my latest composition for a priestly order so they will instruct my child in proper worship of the God-Machine.

The other point I might question is: Why must there be a 9-5? The God-Machine provides so that humans may be at leisure. Push that concept far enough and wanting to work for anything other than recreation may be considered blasphemy!!

Of course, if you’re the kind of person that enjoys farming for farming’s sake (under the watchful eye of the God-Machine) then you might trade some ‘organic’ carrots for a dancer to perform at the harvest.

Basically: the jobs will emerge from what people want to do rather than what they feel they must do. That may then lead to new social norms (But we must make sure we grow carrots to pay the harvest dancer!) and new concepts of ‘work’, but they’ll be vastly removed from what you or I might consider 9-5.

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    $\begingroup$ This. A middle age peasant told about modern farming would frame the question as: "what work will people do on the land for 14 hours each day?". It just makes no sense. Nobody wants to work that much, many have not ever eaten anything that didn't come from a store, much less know how to grow it. Being a social community manager would sound f**king bonkers to them. There you have it. We can create value out of nowhere, with needs arisen from fashion and social constructs rather than biology. And oh boy, those are limitless, machines will never provide fast enough! And people will pay for it. $\endgroup$ – Oxy Oct 3 '18 at 11:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Oxy: Exactly. Modern software development stemmed from a General’s desire to read his enemies messages. All of these jobs were fundamentally inconceivable two centuries prior. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Oct 3 '18 at 11:46
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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget sport competitions $\endgroup$ – Pablo Lozano Oct 3 '18 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs, Hell, one century ago today software development is pretty inconceivable - Turing didn't come up (or publish, maybe) the Turing Machine until 1936, and that's the foundation for computing as we know it. With how fast technology is moving now, we're almost set to have our entire worldview in 2050 dominated by something invented in the next decade. $\endgroup$ – Delioth Oct 3 '18 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ Actually programming was invented in 1804 with the punch card "Jacquard loom". This partially inspired Charles Babbage to invent the Differential Engine and Analytical Engine, and Lady Ada Lovelace to lay out the foundations of programming as a science. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Oct 4 '18 at 4:15

Just because every basic need is met, does not remove all of the motivation for someone to work. Performing extra tasks may earn someone extra food/resources/luxuries. In addition, depending on the structure of your society and how it came about, there may still be inequality - people who control the lions share of the resources (the AI cult for instance)

Also, just because a machine -could- do it, doesn't mean that a human couldn't do it more efficiently or cheaper. There are humans standing around looking for work after all. Maybe your AI decided that the most efficient course of action was to offer someone a little extra resources if they would do a certain task. It sure beats building and upkeeping a complicated machine, after all.


  • Service and hospitality industries - basically being able to afford other humans to tend to your needs is a sign of wealth and status. Maids, restaurants, butlers etc etc.
  • It depends on the advancement of your AI, but a common caveat is that it is not quite as creative as an organic mind. Employing sufficiently trained humans to double check calculations and provide lateral thinking may be a productive use of resources
  • Again, depending on the advancement of your AI, but things that need the "human touch" like counsellors, psychotherapists, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
  • Exploration - aka the Star Trek Approach. Humans want to see things, preferably new and interesting things; it's never quite the same if you get a robot to do it.
  • You mentioned the arts - there are a number of different fields that could occupy people within your society. Any society with an excess of leisure time is going to turn to the arts.
    • Films
    • Plays
    • Music
  • The oldest profession - prostitutes - depends on how lifelike you can make your sex-bots, I guess.
  • Backups. Machines fail sometimes; wear and tear, solar flares, EMP's, or plain old fashion Murphy's law. Having some trained humans that can fill in the gaps may come in extremely handy.
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    $\begingroup$ I'd add bartenders to the list of professions that need the human touch. $\endgroup$ – bitmaker Oct 3 '18 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ Humans certainly aren't useful to double-check calculations, however they might be useful to verify that the right calculations were done. $\endgroup$ – user253751 Oct 4 '18 at 4:44
  • $\begingroup$ Good points both - I was sort of including bartenders in the "service and hospitality" category, they would definitely benefit from the human factor. And agreed, double checking every sum and calculation is obviously right out, but sanity-checking the results and methods is certainly something that might draw a benefit. $\endgroup$ – Chromane Oct 4 '18 at 5:27

Is there any demand for something that is illegal and not provided by the AI?

If the answer is YES, than you have a whole economy that will create lots of jobs.


The Bad

You've just described the basic setting of Paranoia.

If you read that description a bit, you'll notice that the personality of your all-controlling AI is going to have a major effect on what the jobs are and what life is like. In Paranoia The Computer and its bots are capable (and sometimes do a decent job) of taking care of the basic needs of all citizens: Food, clothing, and shelter are all available more-or-less in abundance.

But The Computer is also insane! It was programmed to keep everyone safe from the commies and happy. So now happiness is mandatory! Failure to be happy at all times is treason! Traitors are executed on live television as examples to others, thereby making sure the population remains always at peak happiness. Commies are also traitors. The Computer regularly sends squads of "Troubleshooters" to infiltrate and destroy any Commie cells out there. Squads that find no such cells are obviously traitors themselves and will be executed. The Computer knows they're out there, not finding them is a sign of collaboration.

Jobs in this kind of AI-controlled dystopia consist of "Do what you're told" and "Find ways to avoid being executed for things beyond your control." The rules are arbitrary, contradictory, and subject to change retroactively without notice.

Worship of the AI by the humans is quite likely to eventually lead to this kind of world as they dump decisions on it that it was never intended to process, doesn't know what to do with, and solves via methods reminiscent of the Literal Genie from your favorite TV show. Worshiping the AI as a god is going to prevent any attempt to correct these mistakes, and the end result will be very much double plus ungood.

The Good

On the other hand, if your AI just makes sure that sufficient food, clothing, and shelter are always available for the population, and isn't vicious and arbitrary about how it achieves that goal (it has common sense and/or can be corrected easily when it misbehaves), then what you'll get is a "post scarcity" society.

What would people do? What would you do if you suddenly didn't have to worry about the basic necessities of life? Would you take up painting? Mountain climbing? Start working on interstellar spacecraft just to "see what's out there"?

If you use Tom Sawyers definitions of "work" being "what a body is obliged to do" and "play" as "what a body is not obliged to do" then there is going to be very little work that even bears thinking about in this world. Do what you love, all else is a waste of your limited lifespan.

There will still be an economy, because nothing can ever be infinite. But it will be mostly trade in things that today we would consider frivolous. Why pay someone for hand-grown produce when as much food as you want is available for free? The same reason rich people today spend thousands of dollars on badly-hemmed scraps of cloth just because it's called a scarf and has a designer label. Why do things for others at all when all your needs are met by the AI? Because humans have a drive to acquire social status and being good at doing something (even something objectively useless, look at sports players) is one way to achieve that. Sports, entertainment, art, and exploration are probably going to be the major categories of serious things that people do.

Of course, all of those categories will probably be small compared to "Lounging around and getting fat." It all depends on what's appealing to individuals.

For meditations on a post-scarcity society that are also fun to read, I recommend "Voyage from Yesteryear" by James P. Hogan.


There's a job hiding right there in plain sight: being a cultist.

If The AI provides for all of man's basic material needs, then man is free to indulge in what one might call "impractical". You could spend your days chasing a sense of belonging, fulfillment and/or smug self-righteousness from worship of the Machine God. Some Machine-Priests would stand on street corners and hector the unwashed heathens into casting off the inferior flesh and becoming closer to the Mechanissiah by embracing cybernetics. Others would spend their time arguing with each other and obfuscating actual knowledge below thick layers of made-up arcana like the Rituals Of Cloud-Cogitation and the Litanies Of Bootupification. Yet others would hold object-oriented sermons and teach the lay congregation how to chant in binary. And so on - an entire ecosystem's worth of jobs is there for the taking through what one could call "Vaticanification".

One of the biggest natural checks against the worst part of man's nature, survival, is no longer present. Since there is no pressing need for actual productivity, mankind could become entirely self-gratifying. Everything can be mystified to the point of non-comprehension in the name of authority and temporal power - no matter how stupid or inefficient humanity becomes, nobody's going to starve to death...right guys?

In closing, my fellow brothers and sisters of the Ordo StackExchangus, one must conclude the rite of receiving knowledge with the following steps:

  1. Prime your organic cogitators to be a receptacle for the input of glorious data with the Litanies of Learning
  2. Proceed to your ablution chamber and perform the Ritual of Cleansing
  3. Apply the sacred unguents upon your manipulator-digits
  4. Saturate your terminal with blessed incense as you beseech the machine-spirits towards compliance
  5. Use your manipulator-digits to move the indicator icon to the left, such that it hovers over the approval rune
  6. Recite the Invocation of the Mechanissiah's Benediction
  7. Depress the approval rune
  8. Rise and give thanks for the blessing of knowledge in hexadecimal

And the Machine God, Blessed be His name, shall grant you your prayers.

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    $\begingroup$ Ave Dominus Machina! $\endgroup$ – Ruadhan Oct 4 '18 at 12:03

Humans may be evolved to work. Those who have an internal need to work carry out the jobs determined to be most satisfying for them. It might change hour to hour.

“For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.” - Karl Marx. https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/8116796-for-as-soon-as-the-distribution-of-labour-comes-into

It may well be that we are adapted to work. Certainly one can imagine a selective advantage for our ancestors who worked hard - their offspring did not starve. I met an old man who was bitter and frustrated. It turns out that the fix was to put him to work weeding the grounds, which he did with gusto. When he was through, he said "Let them see what a yard is supposed to look like!"

In this future world, it has been determined what jobs offer the most satisfaction to those inclined to work. I would not be surprised if gardening, farming and carpentry were among them. People who get satisfaction from a day's work can apply themselves as they see fit - and perhaps as in Marx's utopia, move from job to job according to weather and whim.

I do not think the products of their labors would be wasted. People pay extra for organic produce and hand made clothes because they are invested with humanity. So too in this future world - the AI provides, but it is satisfying to see the mark of a fellow human left in the goods that sustain you.


Everything is the same, but better

Lets assume that your AI is well designed and actually wants what is best for the humans on the world it manages (which isn't strictly the case for all AI). In that case, the easiest way to make sure there is enough of everything to go around is to keep most of the structures we have in place today and simple make them more efficient.

Everyone has a job assigned to them, based on their skills and desires. Some people will be farmers or gardeners, others will take care of animals, or be teachers, or engineers, etc. A sufficiently powerful AI will be able to analyze what job each person would be best at and will be able to maximize their productivity at those jobs. If it predicts it will need more of a certain type of worker in the future it can just grow them using stock from the current population that will be genetically predisposed to enjoy that kind of work.

This set up provides several benefits to the AI and the humans under its control.

  • Everyone gets to feel fulfilled because they spend they days doing an activity that they are good at and enjoy.
  • All basic needs are still met because someone somewhere is providing them.
  • There is no need for the AI to spend time and resources building robots to complete tasks because it can just use the existing infrastructure.
  • There will still be a need for nonessential activities like art, and people who have the desire or talent for it will have the opportunity to be artists without worrying about their basic needs.

Essentially what you end up getting is a massive communist society, but one that is run by an uncorruptable entity that is able to maximize output and worker happiness. Your AI cult would be pretty attractive to people because they can just point to the fact that everyone is provided for and happy. This also gives you a chance for conflict because if someone is unhappy with what they are doing with their life it means they think they know better than the machine.

At the end of the day, a strong AI that is actually looking out for the best interests in humans would make sure that everyone had a job, because it is the easiest way to make sure the humans have stuff and aren't bored to death.


Humans are highly competitive, so I believe game leagues will form, for strictly entertainment purposes. Anything from Sports to chess and go (AI will be banned from these games, because its obvious it will win). This is totally about biological competition (perhaps alien species too, if in cannon).

Other jobs that can be considered arts, but not artists, really anything in the entertainment industry today could still be a job. ie.(Actors, Musicians, Singers, Directors, Novelists, News).

Anything people currently do as a hobby would eventually be considered a job, but since the AI really takes care of everything you can feel free to float from job to hobby ..er I mean job as your mood strikes. Perhaps take up painting today, and sing tomorrow.


The big question here is is job something people want to do? If so, I guess the AI is not allowing people to do anything, which leads to job being illegal. Next stop would be, what does the AI do if someone is caught working?

Please, give me some more clarification, and I would do my best to help out.

EDIT: I guess a job people would still be able to do, could be oiling the robots, holding meetings on various topics, maybe a human tourist guide would be better than an AI one...

  • $\begingroup$ the point was that given everything is provided for free, maybe people tend to be lazy, not doing anything and giving up even social relationship. I'm not saying AI would disallow working; instead, it would make it so irrelevant maybe people opt out anyways. $\endgroup$ – Jordi Serra Oct 3 '18 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ Well, people do tend to get super lazy, not doing anything. Just watch "Wall-e", prologue for 1984 "Dune" by David Lynch, and other movies that shows AI taking over so that Men could chill. Starts by them (robots) serving people, doing everything for them... Example: wall-e Example 2: dune P.S. Dune is not much like your story, because Men with robots took charge, but it's the same idea... People fall to apathy. $\endgroup$ – Milan Maxa Maksimović Oct 3 '18 at 19:07

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