Work defines who we are. It determines our status, and dictates how, where, and with whom we spend most of our time. It mediates our self-worth and molds our values. But are we hard-wired to work as hard as we do? Did our Stone Age ancestors also live to work and work to live?
To answer these questions, James Suzman charts a grand history of “work” from the origins of life on Earth to our ever more automated present.
Suzman shows that while we have evolved to find joy meaning and purpose in work, for most of human history our ancestors worked far less and thought very differently about work than we do now. He shows how our contemporary culture of work has its roots in the agricultural revolution ten thousand years ago. Our sense of what it is to be human was transformed by the transition from foraging to food production, and, later, migration to cities.
Arguing that we are in the midst of a similarly transformative point in history, Suzman shows how automation might revolutionize our relationship with
work and in doing so usher in a more sustainable and equitable future for our world and ourselves.