Weekend Feature : It's called "Retirement"

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Audlem Church - the view eastwards

As we get older, or so we are told, it becomes ever more difficult to stimulate our ever decreasing grey cells. In my experience, BBC Radio 4 provides one way of doing this, and quite by chance I recently came upon a discussion programme talking about the impact of robots on our jobs and society in general.

The venue for this discussion was Dagenham, once a major source of employment in the Ford car factory, now much reduced by the impact of robots on production lines and many in the audience who participated in the discussion, had personal experience of this.

One major strand of the programme was discussing a proposal eminating, I believe, from high-tech company bosses in Silicon Valley that everyone should receive a basic payment regardless of whether they work or not to offset the impact of automation on their jobs.

Predictably, a wide range of opinions were expressed to the idea from "dreadful, what on earth would I do all day" to "brilliant, I could do all the things I have always wanted to do but never had time for" and the thought struck me that these are precisely the same reactions to the thought of impending retirement that many of us have battled with as we approach that age in our lives when we are paid to do nothing. There is of course one fundamental difference in that many affected would be young with energy and vitality so often lacking amongst we retired folks.

Talking to Probus members , a common comment about retirement is "I am so busy, I don't know how I ever found time to go to work". We are of course very fortunate to live in a village with such an active community spirit and looking at many of the groups who generate this the contribution from retired people is significant (including the editorial team of this website!).

However, what seems certain is that as automation takes more and more of our jobs, the impact on how we spend our leisure time and on society in general, will have fundamental, as yet unknown consequences.

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