track | for when you’re wondering if we’ll ever stop working


Lonely Arcade –– a speculative song by from later

Opening with eerie sounds of what we imagine to be an empty-ish gaming arcade, Lonely Arcade comes to life with the faraway voice of Canadian singer, èlah.

I came into this venue, encouraging myself,
certain of myself, worthy of my self.

Unrestricted menu: searching for my self,

unsure of myself, murky little self.

The song is the first in a project by Toronto-based foresight studio, from later. Describing the project’s intent and research underlying Lonely Arcade’s haunting groove, from later writes:

“Lonely Arcade is № 01 in a series of songs from later — songs written as though created in a further future environment. The speculative songs are intended to provoke critical dialogue about where we are headed.”

At closing time, who are you? Who are you?
In Paradise, what will you do? Who are you?

Lonely Arcade is more than a futuristic groove. 
It’s an informed speculative fiction––and a sobering one at that.

What could happen to jobs in the future?

“In the Lonely Arcade scenario, the ultimate aim of engineering, to lighten the load of labour, has been so successful that few important jobs are left for humans. The Great Displacement begins with repetitive task-oriented manual work and desk jobs, but soon spreads to pilots, professional drivers, lawyers, and teachers. Eventually the roles of doctors and dentists, salespeople, makeup artists, plumbers, designers and engineers are all supplanted by technology. Many of the global behemoth corporations employ nobody, not even a CEO.” 

(source: the fewch)

How might we solve the world’s problems?

“Even the world’s wickedest problems—like social injustice, climate change, healthcare, and food insecurity—are better addressed by artificial intelligence than by humans. Indeed, it is an AI that finally devises a scheme for a fair and universal guaranteed income to

(source: the fewch)

Do we all just chill out in the end?

“The Leisure Decree, legislated by a network of well-meaning, intelligent software agents, rules that no person should work more than one day a week, enough to take care of the odds and ends—mostly machine maintenance and a few menial tasks that humans are still better at. Tens of thousands of years of full-time drudgery come to an end. For the moment, it is an idyllic era of bountiful splendor, satisfaction, and harmony.”

(source: from later on instagram)

Lonely Arcade might hint at a future in which most jobs are obsolete, but it raises a significant question about the distinction between jobs and work. Is it in human nature to work—to wake up each day and fulfill a purpose (even if that purpose is sheer survival)? If so, how will we redefine that work in a future where we may no longer be able to identify ourselves based on our income-earning labor? More pressingly, what systems need to be in place in order to create the space for us to live meaningful, purpose-filled, job-free futures?

Follow from later here and here.
Follow their webzine, The Fewch, here.

Extracts via from later.