What comes after the end of work? The optimistic answer to this question is that, if we did not have to work, we would spend our days bettering ourselves and our communities: reading philosophy, learning new skills, and increasing our understanding of the universe. Karl Marx envisaged that, in a non-capitalist system that doesn’t require specialisation of labour, each individual would have the freedom “to hunt in the morning, to fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, and philosophise after dinner”. Ironically, capitalist-driven technological advancement could offer the best route to turn this dream into reality.
An alternative vision is provided by dystopian science fiction writers. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley presents us with a society in which, while people still work, they spend their free time absorbed by frivolous entertainment. Technological advances today seem to be leading us in this direction. Improvements in virtual reality hold the possibility of creating entertainment experiences (it seems anachronistic to call them ‘video games’) which are more immersive, novel and enjoyable than we can now imagine.