If AI [artificial intelligence] genius and Google engineering director Ray Kurtzweil is right, around 2045—the forecasted year of “the technological singularity”, the first computer uploads of disembodied human minds and immortality for them and their associated personalities, skills, cumulative experience, character, dreams and ambitions will be achieved.
Let’s assume that many, if not most, people will [if it’s affordable] then jump at the chance to survive beyond their normal lifespan as software-based, fully-sentient immortal beings inside a computer-generated virtual reality—even at the risk of having their files hacked by some sadistic kid who wants to test “Dental Drill 3.0” on them, for, say, several months, before upgrading to the diabolically enhanced 4.0 package.
How will that affect recruiting?
1. The idea of “lifetime employment” will have to be reviewed and dramatically redefined. Currently, the formally established lifetime employment schemes that played so prominent a role in post-war Japan’s miracle economy and the implicitly lifetime jobs that industrial America provided its workers in the golden age of the 1950s are vanishing where they have not already disappeared.
Once immortality is achieved, for a price, presumably those whose minds are uploaded to a computer will, like condo owners, have an eternal virtual-reality maintenance charge as a recurring periodic expense, much as eternal cryogenic preservation in liquid nitrogen requires.
This means having to have a source of income to pay for it. Ergo, many without eternal royalties, annuities or other guaranteed recurring income will have to work forever—billions and billions of years, unless somehow work-for-pay becomes individually, generally or universally unnecessary (which, would, of course, require a parallel recasting of the roles of recruiters).
That, in turn, will probably mean, for the average wage earner, deferred retirement—permanently deferred retirement— and an incentive to replace any existing lifetime employment contract with an “eternal employment contract”—not unlike the kind the Devil likes to make with gullible humans such as the professorial German Faust and his spinoff Yankee farmer counterpart, Jabez Stone [(in “The Devil and Daniel Webster”] in exchange for their eternal, expendable souls.
Of course, eternity is the longest of long-term contracts and perhaps too long, even or especially for immortal minds. So, if only from the employee side of things, a robust and clear termination clause will become more important than (for)ever.
[That, however, will provide no protection from the kid with the virtual drill capable of inflicting the Devil’s relished eternal sufferings of Hell on us, entirely in this prospective eternal cyber-life, rather than in any afterlife.]
2. Eternal upgrades and maintenance will be required: Obviously, the assurance of immortality is only as credible as the supporting hardware and services are reliable. Humans retire because they wear out or because they amass sufficient resources to retire before they do wear out.
But, after 2045, they can look forward to the prospect of partially replacing their worn-out selves [in addition to being replaced by robots]—their corporeal selves—with much sturdier, more durable hardware support components and ever more reliable support services, including electrical and other power supplies necessary to prevent “digital death”.
Since the upgrades and maintenance will have to be paid for, eternal work, as suggested above, will become a necessity if Plan A—limitless or adequate guaranteed recurring wealth—doesn’t pan out.
3. 3. The distinctions among employment-related tax-deductible housing, office and equipment expenses will be obliterated. If your consciousness is uploaded to a computer, that machine will probably, from a legal, existential, professional and social standpoint be your residence, your office and your equipment—with perhaps significant tax-deduction implications.
If you are uploaded into whatever will correspond to a laptop or tablet in 2045, you’ll be living in a mobile home. The cheaper the model, the more likely it is that you will be considered “trailer-park trash” (even if you are never dumped into your computer’s recycle bin).
This could have unfavorable implications for tax-deduction claims based on office, home and equipment deductions, if all three fall into the single “low-cost” category of “cheap computer”.
4. 4. Employer-sponsored pensions and healthcare program burdens will be shifted to technical support insurance: Successful or not, Obamacare may, if still in place, be scaled back after 2045, as ailing seniors in an aging society opt for computer mind-upload and maintenance, rather than much costlier physical offload into the medical system.
Pre-retirement incentives may be offered to make that switch and the entailed shift to technical support insurance to cover the switch when it becomes necessary because of deteriorating health.
This could be win-win for employer and employee alike.
5. Job interviews with immortals will all be remote: When an immortal uploaded job applicant is not only on Skype, but also in it, as associated files, the distinction between an in-person interview and an in-computer interview will be obliterated—except for those who keep their immortal files in a laptop [or its future equivalent] rather than a server-based cloud. Since computer-based interviews are, virtually by definition, remote, so will all job interviews.
This will have myriad revolutionizing implications for the screening process, which will literally become that, a screen-based—or hologram-based—affair. Among them: an accelerated, inexorable trend toward global wage equilibrium [since distance to talent will be no constraint]; exponentially expanded opportunities for simultaneous multiple job applications and faster screening turnaround times.
6. 6. Falling birth rates won’t matter: Gloomy predictions and concerns about low-fertility causing shrinking baby pools and workforces too small to fund pensions and geriatric medical care will be addressed in one fell swoop. Not only will the retiree population require less medical intervention, but because retirement as we know it will cease to exist for many, if not most workers, Social Security [Social Insurance, etc.], programs will be under less financial pressure.
Moreover, employed uploaded minds will be net contributors to, rather than beneficiaries of health insurance and healthcare schemes for young, old and immortal alike—despite allowance for mental health interventions for the physically invulnerable mind-uploaded.
A Re-Engineered, Eternal Social Hazard
All things considered, including the best intentions and hopes of Ray Kurtzweil, the lessons of human history, future Google technology and—above all—human nature, it is safe to make the following prediction.
Despite whatever cost savings, efficiency and extended productivity that the technological singularity may generate, there is a very real and very unpleasant prospect [besides the looming torments to be inflicted by a sadistic kid, robot or hacker with Dental Drill 4.0] that a society of immortal mind-uploaders in all likelihood will have to face.