The German-American philosopher Hannah Arendt describes in her work The Human Condition that we need to make a difference between work and labour. This need could be found as an introvert philosophical question but is actually a question of who and what we are as humans. For Arendt work is a free and self owned and controled activity while labor is its opposite, the activity that is owned and controlled by others.
We could find a similar idea in Harry Bravermans (an American marxist and political economist) book Labor and monopoly capital where he describe the difference between humans and animals as the difference between what Arendt would say is work and labor. But he describe is a little different.
Braverman describe the difference between humans and animals by describing the human work as the carpenter. A skilled craftsman who first skiss the chair, then choice the tree he will use before he carve the pieces out before he put them together to a finish chair. In this process we can see how the carpenter plan and execute al the work.
The animal is described by Braverman as the bee who start to build her beehive and will continue to do so even if we take away what we already built. The bee don’t plan or control what id does. Its just going on instinct and by that show its incapacity to think.
If we put together Arendt and Braverman we can understand that only the human who work and don’t perform labor is a free human being. But few of us is today totally free from labor. But the level of work is higher or lower depending on what kind of labor we perform for our living. If we produce and sell a high contextual content we will with a high possibility have more work and less labor on our life. A good example of this is an artist or a professor at a university.
On the other hand if we sell low contextual contents on the labor market we will properly have very little work in their daily life. The best example of this is a temporary employee at a call center. The New Taylorism that grows in the shadow of the third or maybe fourth industrial revolution increase the amount of labor even for professions that in earlier years had at least some amount of work in there daily life.
But I don’t think that the automation and AI is bad or should be resisted. Instead we most make sure that our workforce will become even more educated so we can get as many high contextual activities as possible to our society as possible. If we succeed with this we would also have a possibility to make sure that those who will be forced to the low contextual activities still would have a decent life.
So when you perform any activity make sure that you are more of a human then a bee. Because if you don’t you will be a part of the loosers of tomorrow.