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The Jetsons as futurists


Robert Tercek & Brett King

July 31, 2022 was the fictional birthdate of George Jetson, so we thought we’d take a look this week at how The Jetsons has stood up over time in respect to its vision of the future.  It’s just Robert and Brett comparing notes and debating what the Jetsons got right and what they got wrong. From smart watches and flying cars to household robots and 3D printers.

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this week on the futuristsone thing the jetsons didn't really do was to tackle the whole economic side ofthis you know you don't see poverty in the you jetsons we assume that is sort of in apost-scarcity abundance society and a lot of the work that george was doing was very technical related i meanokay he was pushing buttons but his company was it mr cogswell or whatever it was his plus i can't remember yeahbut um that company was working on technology for the world um and soi think you know more and more companies are going to obviously have that focus[Music] if you grew up like rob and i didwatching cartoons on saturdays you probably already know the show we're going to talk about on this episode infact uh july 31st of this year was the fictional birthdate of george jetsonfrom the jetsons and we thought it'd be interesting to take a bit of a dive into what thejetsons predicted and we know what it's mean for society what they got right what they got wrong and you know what itpotentially means for society in the future given the jetsons was talking about a time 20 or 30 years from now andhow the jetsons may yet still predict some of the things that we have comingrob do you do you remember the jetsons growing up as a kid who could not remember the jetsons theMedia Literacyjetsons and the floonstones were foundational concepts and media literacy when i was a kid yeah they were on theair constantly we were bombarded with cartoons those cartoons and many others of course but those were really reallyrelevant i think compared to some of the other things like you know looney tunes cartoons with bugs bunny and elmer fuddand so on uh for some reason the hanna-barbera cartoons really resonated with ourgeneration and apparently they continue to resonate with people you know the funny thing about thejetstans is they only made one season they made 22 showsand it wasn't even considered necessarily a successful show when they produced it so it's a little bit like star trek in that way you know this showwas introduced um it ended up having a lasting impact but at the time it was kind of like yeahyou know just another show um one of the reasons it didn't it didn't last you know the first season umwas the only season that they produced initially was because it was produced in colorand you have to go back to 1962 and realize that most households didn't have color tvs in fact most households didn'thave color tvs until 1970. so very few people could see it in color and that show in black and white iimagined would not be nearly as fun to watch uh so they were very futuristic isuppose the two producers hannah barbera when they produced it they um they had vision about the future oftelevision and in a way i'll bring that one to life so brett how about that 100 years howdid they arrive at george jetson's birthday how did they figure that out do you have any insight i i yeah i don'tknow i mean i i did a little bit of research um before the show i don't know why they chose that date but you knowwhat it it always you know when i was growing up in the you know like the 70s and 80s the 2020s were the futureright it wasn't 2 000. it was like 2020 is is what we defined as the future youknow so and here we are in the future yeah how does it feel you're here nowexactly but i i did find out something interesting um the jetsons of courseresided in orbit city it was called um you know there's a lot of talk about orbital cities now and so forth we hadrosie the robot and so forth but the city's architecture was rendered in what we call the googie style have you everheard of this that's huge i live in la man it's everywhere yes of course um so um youThe Groovy Styleknow it's not the google style let's be clear it's the googie style but this is the style of architecture that sort ofinfluenced the way we thought about the future in the 60s and so forth so umeverywhere you drive in la you see houses on stilts with with the groovy uh the groovy signature style um names onthem and then the garages the parking garages are underneath so that idea of a house on stilts is uh is the inspiration imean i imagine that the the producers would drive past houses like that all the time when they're on their way to work in laand they decided then to uh to make that the theme the visual theme for the show it's like just make the stilts tallermake the buildings higher so let's talk about some of the things they predicted that um you know have uhimpacted our day-to-day life uh these days of course the most obvious one i thinkprobably be would be the video phone now i thought you're gonna say the robot theflying car come on well yeah you know flying cars and rosie the robot we're going to definitely getinto that um you know the sort of humanoid personification of androids right but um if you think about thevideo phones that was the majority of their communication now in the 1960s that was prettyout there you know we had dick tracy you know which which was a concept earlier than the jetsons of course butin the jetsons they took it to a new level they had um telly tele schoolingyou know um part of the schooling was done on video they had flat screen tvs and they had smart watches which youcould do video calls from as well so all of that was fairly advanced thinkingyeah one episode even uh elroy the boy alvaro is watching the flintstones on his wristwatchwhich at the time seems super futuristic and today it's like yeah so what you can everyone nowyeah exactly and of course you mentioned rosie the robot um so rosie helped the kids withthe homework um well you know we do have some robots that are learning assistancerobots now um like um i'm just trying to get the name of of umthe one i can't think of it right now but i'll i'll think of it as we go um but of course um the other aspect isrosie did a lot of the household chores and we don't have robots that walk around but we do have robots that vacuumand mop the floors today yeah yeah for sure and people keep telling me they keep getting better andbetter those roomba robots they were a bit of a joke a few years ago but now it's like a real thing no um you know i i think uh obviously astime-saving devices go you know you can even get them mowing the lawn now cleaning the pool um you know there'svariations on it um but the big thing is you know obviously you know vacuuming the floors you can just leave this thingto go it is a big saving um device but it was sort of that push button societythat was embedded in the whole jetsons world so and speaking of push buttons that's what george did for a living hisGeorge Jenkins Jobjob was to push buttons at a factory right so uh in every episode you'll see them pushing buttons you know they wantto make a meal a little screen magically appears then they can select what meal they want to make or you know if it'stime for elworth to go to school the mother's crazy food princess yeah yeah then they can select the destination andthose pneumatic tubes you know some of it is a bit of a joke like the the pneumatic tubes that transport people up and down rightelevators that was a throwback to department stores in the 1920s nightbreak that had those pneumatic tubes but theythought it was cool and they were like let's bring that back for the future that'll be the way we transport people into well we could have vacuum trainslike you know hyperloop and things like that so you know if you wanted to extend that concept but i'll give you a quotefrom from one of the episodes i watched in preparation for this from george jensenat work he said boy these three-hour days are killing menow um if if you know his work pattern his work consisted of an hour aday two days a week now this at the time and even today seems a little bitridiculous but in highly automated societies that we're going to see develop over the next 20 to30 years we know that artificial intelligence is going to have a massive massive impact on employmentso it may be that we end up working you know far less hours than we do today orhaving something like universal basic income because we've been replaced by artificial intelligence what do youthink i think this is a moment for some humility as a futurist because futurists have been making this prediction forHumilitymore than 100 years oh as we automate more and more stuff in society people will be working fewer hours we'll havemore time for leisure we'll all be artists you know what brett here it is in 2022 when we're no closer to thatvision than we're working harder than ever dude yeah no but having said that i mean ifyou look at the structural elements of employment um you know the right now the sort of supply and demandcurve argument this is what i wrote about in rise of technosocialism is the likelihood is that you know we'llreplace more and more humans with ai anywhere there's process you knowprocesses that can be repetitive you know you can get algorithms or robotics into there um and that means thatessentially you know the demand curve that we talk about in terms ofmeeting that from a supply perspective we've got less and less human labor dependence there because we're usingmore processing cycles but it doesn't mean we won't work and i don't i thinkum you know this is where the key argument comes from ai disrupting employment people like people need workthey need purpose in their life but what the ubi trials are telling us is that people start their own jobs at amuch higher frequency on ubi than the general population people get much more involved in community and socialactivities at a much higher rate with ubi and don't forget you know we are going to have a big you know a hugedemand on labor for climate mitigation in um you know particularly from the2040s onwards that's going to require a lot of human involvement so i just think the role ofwork in society is going to change not that automation's going to be the end of work and we're all going to become artists although you've you're alreadyan artist so you've already got a footer i'm also i'm all ready for that future i just want the the end of workpart to start the the the thing about the the ubi though liberating people from dependencyEnd of workon work and particularly dependency on physical labor um i think that's really promising vision right so you say yesyeah we can automate more and more things robots robotic systems automated systems canproduce more and more uh parts more and more finished products and even transport them so many of thephysical tasks in industrial society and in advanced manufacturing are going to be automated i think that's a safe bet idon't think that's like a huge prediction or a gigantic leap we can see that happening so then the question is like where do the humans find purposewhere do the humans migrate to well there's a great deal of opportunity for humans to invent new thingsand um if many folks who are big big bulls and big believers in this robotic futurethey say look humans have never ceased to find new needs to invent new wants and new desires right and i think that'sa really useful way to look at this robotic future it's like okay what gifts have you got what skills have you gotto invent things that people will desire and as there's a surplus of human labor and human imagination available we'llprobably start to do more imaginative things i would imagine the more things that require human imaginationmore novel mashups more creative yeah maybe more handmade stuff you know as more and more as more things areproduced on an automated that will drop in value and the perceived value will go away as well it won't seem so scarce orrare so highly polished manufactured things that almost are perfect that's whatyou'll get from a robot um we'll turn to humans for wabi-sabi you know that kind of like flawed the artifact uh theEconomicshandmaid's the detail that lets you know that a human being did it and that's a great creative pursuit so listen ifthat's the future we're aiming for where we're all potters and knitters and gardeners i'm open to that idea i thinkthat could be great fun one thing the jetsons didn't really do was to tackle the whole economic side ofthis you know you don't see poverty in the jetsons and issues you know we assume that is sort of in apost-scarcity abundance society and a lot of the work that george was doing was very technical related i meanokay he was pushing buttons but his company was it mr cogswell or whatever it was his boss i can't rememberum but um that company was working on technology for the world um and soi think you know more and more companies are gonna obviously have that um focus but it's sort of really the question ofeconomics in highly automated societies is a good one because if so much ofsociety and resource allocation is highly automated um not only where do humans add value but how do how iseconomics work when so much of what we have is just immediately available like the food printer you know as an exampleor um you know like you know when when she was doing the grooming for the kids and things likethat you know your hairstyle could be changed by the machine or the toothbrush um you know robot hand that came outthings like that but all of this time saving and all of this automation um you know creates a society where somuch of our daily needs are met by that high level of automationwhat need do you have for money if all of your basic needs are catered for if you've got a 3d food printer that canspit out food and you've got a 3d printed home that you can live in homelessness that doesn't it doesn'texist and you've got these not so fast here andhang on hang on hang on so a closer look at the show will reveal that actuallythey airbrushed an awful lot out of that story so one of the things to pay attention to when you look at oldWhats Missingforecasts for the future including cartoons like the jetsons is what's missing what didn't they think aboutwhat were some of the things that were happening in society right then when they were making that story that theyleft out and they neglected one thing you won't see in the jetsons is black people or people of color right so youknow this isn't this is a show it was created in 1961 1962 there were race riots in the united states the the civilrights movement was in full swing and just a few few years later the civil rights act would be passed in the unitedstates so this is a very present part of american society at the time but it was airbrushed right out of thestory and with respect to that vision of abundance brett i'm sorry but i gotta chime in i hate to be the downer here inthis story but apparently that's the way it's playing out today so there is an episode there's an episode of the jetsons called thespacesuit uh where uh where george's boss and their big rival competitive firm are trying to develop a flying suitand one of them drops to the ground now you never see the ground in the show you actually see it a couple of times butonly a couple times but it really it raises a pretty interesting question like well over orbit city where actuallyis orbited city it's in the sky who lives on the grounds they're built on these uh you know pylons or towers or uhyou know they're up in the they're raised up on pillars well the spacesuit falls to the ground and guess what itlands on a homeless person it lands on a hobo and so it turns out that there is a guywalking around on the ground and it's actually interesting he's walking around like a park it's like a green parkbut he has holes in his shoes and his clothes are ready and torn up and so on so he's quite clearly what we would calla homeless person today and so the the economic story that's implied there is alittle darker than what you're suggesting because what it says is that there is abundance in this world of thejetsons but it's abundance for the rich people who have jobs who live in orbit city and then the poor people who don'tAbundancehave good shoes who are homeless they live on the ground on the planet earth now when they went back to redo the showin the 1980s when ted turner's uh turner broadcasting controlled that library uhthey bought they bought a hannah barbara and they they brought the show back and they made more episodes and and umunfortunately just like the the modern episodes of the looney tunes they're not as good as the original series they're not as wacky um and they started to playup this theory uh they they emphasized this notion a little bit in subsequent episodes where you know the earth hadbeen spoiled the the environment was spoiled that's why they had to live in in these these tower cities and sky andso forth that's a little bit of a 1980s addition to this show might not have been necessary but what they did is theyunderscored something that was baked into the first series which is this notion that there are people who have good things and they've got abundance inflying cars and they live in this great city and there are people who do notand that's sort of the elysium you know vision as well if you see that you got a matt damon movie right thatmovie is the jetsons i mean it's it's the jetsons the dark perspective it's the worm's eye view like the person onthe ground who's trying to get up to that beautiful planet in the sky the city in the sky that's exactly what elizium is elysiumis basically a high-tech version of the jetsons and and that's one of the flip sides potentially of ubiyou know if you've seen um the expanse universe i don't know if you've ever watched the expanse sci-fiin the expanse you have two classes of people you have those that are part of the elite class um you know and this ison earth you know because you have the belters and others people you know the martians and so forth living living outside of the earth but on the earthyou have two classes of people you have the wealthy elite and you have the basics those are on basicand you know um so that creates the stratification of human society because yes you have all of your needs lookedafter from a basic income perspective you don't go hungry you have a roof over your head you have clothes access to youknow healthcare and education but that's it you know you don't have the wealth and abundance of the the wealthy eliteclass those are you know involved in governments or own own the technologies and corporations that create likegenetic engineering and ai and all of those sorts of things and that that is a highly probable outcome of highly techhighly automated societies unless we figure out a way for better wealth distribution because the way we think ofwealth distribution today is as the economy grows we get better paying jobsand so if those jobs don't exist um you know we've got ubi then that ability to have uh social mobility is uh you know aproblem yeah that's interesting listen yeah i could go deep on uvi i'm i'mUVIskeptic personally um i think that i think it's a dangerous thing for people to be dependent on a handout for fortheir income but it seems like what social safety netdo you have if if ai takes jobs you know you've got to have something so this is a philosophical debate you know this isa philosophical debate we're going to have let's just think about truck drivers affected by you know autonomousvehicles um now you know andrew yang has made this point and you know united you know depending on where you sit on thepolitical spectrum but he said you know like we talk about retraining truck drivers as coders but how realistic isthat you know when you look at coal miners and others who've been displaced because of uh changes you know thereality is it's not very realistic so you can't just leave them to be without income you know you have to provide somelevel of support so depending on how large scale technology unemployment isyou know that's where we start talking about solutions like ubi and of course zuckerberg you know mask um you knowmark cuban all of these guys um you know peter thiel all of them talk about ubi as a fairly um you knowlogical outcome of technology based on importance of course they do of course they do they're billionaires i mean comeon this is a billionaire's approach to dealing with people who are displaced by their technology right they say exactlylet's just figure out some scheme to pay those people they haven't really put themselves in the position of a person to be on the receiving end of that sothink about the person who's receiving ubi where's the agency there where is their ability to determine their outcomeyou're getting a handout every single month it's a fixed income that does not sound like personally to me like a very appealing outcome itsounds like a scheme where they foster huge dependency on a government that hands out things and then there'sanother group as you point out we can't get away from this notion of class there's one class that reaps all the benefit and all the rewardsokay enough on that topic here's another thing that's missing from the jetsons which is an interesting thing if you think about it 1962 the other thing thatwas going on was the beginning of the vietnam war and the pigs invasion in in uh cuba andthe cuban missile crisis so we had the coal cold war in full swing andit was a shooting war and um now of course you wouldn't expect to see that in the children's cartoonbut there is an episode where george gets drafted by the military and so thiswas not on the periphery people wouldn't even remember that one either even a kid's cartoon would be aware of this uhof this dynamic that there were people who were being drafted and sent away to some war far away in another part of theworld what was that about why didn't they forget have robots doing all the warwell you know with respect to the robots it's quite a lot you know it's not just the fact that there's rosie the robot in the houseuh one point the drones rosie falls in love with another robot and uh the robotEffective Computinguh the the the superintendent of their building sends his robot away for repair and rosie's pining for that and inanother episode rosie thinks that they're gonna replace her because she's kind of an old model robot and so she's she's concerned that thatshe's going to be replaced and so she she goes away she runs away from home a robot run awaynow this notion is about effective computing computers that have emotions and computers that can sense ouremotions and maybe even predict and anticipate our emotions while that's a highfalutin way ofdescribing a kid's cartoon that's clearly the intent that they had with those episodes where rosie's feelingthings and understanding the way people feel this is a huge topic in computing and it's one of those topics that is likesort of permanent dawn in the sense that the sun never fully rises on effective computing where computers can discernhow we feel and how we're responding today when you call a call center and you're on hold for 25 minutes oryou're navigating through voicemail hell a series of menus trying to find the person who can answer your problemthey actually have effective computing systems listening to your voice tone and they can tell whether or not you'regetting angry so people don't realize this but it quietly and invisibly this kind ofeffective computing has started to enter our world and into our experience unfortunately in the worst possible wayuh through call centers um but nevertheless people have that experience today so we might not notice it we mightnot be aware that there's an ai listening to us when we're on the phone on hold or calling a call center but we arebeing monitored right now by effective computing so that's another one that the jets yeah i read i read a googleresearch article on that um recently actually and and like you said it's the the sort ofemerging dawn thing um the reality is that we haven't reallystill cracked that particularly in terms of uh facial recognition with emotions it's it it turns out you know you can besmiling and you can be upset right and so um you know there's uh there's othercues micro expressions and things like that um i did want to get into the wholerobot um play in this because um obviously um you know the way we havethought about robots in science fiction generally and android is a very common form ofrobotics we see just displayed in science fiction so of course you had uh um you knowthe forbidden planet you had um um you know the the robot from uh lost in spaceum you had hell named lieutenant commander data you had metropolis you know all of all ofthese movies portrayed uh robot um or human-like robots nowthe word robot itself comes from the czech word roboti which came comes from a play that youknow um or the first use in in in fiction there was in 1921 with rossum'suniversal robots um of course that was in check and they presented the robotsas these electronic servants um and if you go back a bit further you had the steam machine man at the prairieswhich was 1877 i think in terms of um you know these penny penny novels thatwere were written in in you know in in the states and this was a steamsteam machine based man that would be able to pull um you know carts aroundinstead of horses but um you know we have got this common theme of robots being servants for usand them being in this android form in fact the the czech word robotic literally means a serf a you know aindentured servant right um and so this is again something thatyou know we are going to you know we here talk about robots rights and things like that the jetsons definitelysort of dealt with that a little little bit in respect to robot personalities and so forthbut you know if we do get sentence sensor machines which seems fairly likelyyou know what sort of rights they have and the respect for other intelligences and that we have to shareum the planet with you are starting to see some awareness creep in you know the the fact that um octopuses umdemonstrate uh forms of intelligence that you know dolphins have complex uh speechpatterns and so forth and yet you know we consider them food today so um it's interesting to see howthe emergence of an alternative intelligence in the form of ai might change the way we think aboutspecies that we co-exist with whether they are ai you know machine-based species orwhether they're the existing species we have something like jets and necessarily dealt with you know so if we can createsentient robotsan intelligence that we consider sentient which by the way some people already think we've done they're wrongbut nevertheless they think that we've created ascension robot so maybe we're on the brink maybe we're knocking onthat door and then what you're you're you're assuming or you're proposing that that might cause us to value other kindsof sentient creatures other life forms like octopuses uh dolphins um we might we might value them evenmore uh if we're able to create it i sure hope that's the case i wonder if that'll be true my big wonder is if we create sentientrobots what are they going to think about us yeah and why would they care about uswell you know i i i where the creators be you know they have to co-exist withus um you know unless they're they're skydiving those are two pretty big those are pretty big assumptions the firstthing that the robots are going to do is make better ones right then they'll be the creators and with respect to us likedo they have to share the planet with us we're profligated wasteful we can't manage our healthcare yeah we we createpollution like we're we're incredibly inefficient we're maybe the most sophisticated biological organism onplanet earth but i think a new form of life that's not biological in origin might look at us and say what an inefficient processlet's just get rid of all these things that'll solve the problems entirely well the the other thing is that when wethink about robots and how they might interact with us is we're often thinking about how super powerful humanswith high order intelligence would respond and it's you know the absolute power corrupts absolutely concept butyou know we've got no guarantee that robots with you know higher intelligence than us may think like humans of coursethey could think much more differently from they could be pure logic machines they could thinkvery differently from humans so when we can't assume they're going to be sentimental like it's a gigantic blunderto assume they're going to be sentimental about us i think they're going to look at us with some large measure disgustyeah yeah yeah i mean thanks for that upbeat uh assessment youknow you're getting what did you have for breakfast this morning i'm sorrythe other thing i noticed i was looking at the jets and thinking about today's show is how many things didn't change howmany things were in the show that were buried at the program every single week there's an episode where they they go toa football game or you know george is playing golf with his boss or there's umyou know there's there's a space cubs which is like the boy scouts you know where the sun elroy is there there's cardealers and bank robbers all this stuff seems like artifacts from a bygone era like oh wow these are these are kind ofthe tv tropes there was no internet either not in the way we think of it there was obviously automated systemsand um you know you could select from menus for food and things like that but um you know and there was but it wasmore tv like in terms of the way they portrayed yeah everything was tv and tv is a big part tvs in every episode tv isthe central thing that the family does you know you we talk about this wonderful time when people won't have to work well in the jetsons you know georgeis the only one who works he only works three hours a day or three hours a week exactly and so what do they do with all theirspare time well they watch a lot of television it's what they do that's that's one of the main things that the family does and tv it's going to be themetaverse though by the time you know we're in george jetson so they uh they spend a lot of time ongender rolestv the the el roy wins the tv contest in one show in another in another episodeuh both judy the daughter and elvery uh have a tv career and george has to quithis job to go manage their career and so television is a big role the other thing i noticed in looking atit about things that never changed or changed slowly or retrograde in that show is the role of womenand um this is really extreme first of all the idea that women would have jobs in 1962 in this tv show it was supposedto be about 100 years in the future that idea yeah doesn't exist like women don't haveroles outside of the home even in the opening trailer the opening credits uh george is dropping everyone off atschool and then uh his wife uh jane he offers to give her like a 20 billionshe takes the whole wallet so she takes his wallet and then goes to the shopping centerand then many episodes george is at work dreaming about when he gets home he'll have a nice uh cooked meal his wife willcook his meal and massage his feet and so on and it's like wait a minute what kind of gender roles are are wepropagating here for you know a time that's theoretically 100 years in the future there's even beauty contests uh in the show so likewe have a lot of retrograde stuff and she gets stressed out about answering the video phone when her hair's a messyou know and and things like that so yeah it's it it was a very1960s view of gender roles and so forth and of course that waywe meet certain amount of transgender people or that's great exactly that's right so we have to make progress inthat respect that's exactly what i'm thinking is that society continues to move ahead in a fitful way you know itgender roles todaystarts and stops but it does lurch ahead and sometimes there's genuine progress that's made youwould never you would never write a story like that today you would never make a tv show where the gender roles are so unequalif anything today you'd probably talk about how families are juggling jobs and fan and family time andyou know their own individual pursuits and running out of time that would be a more effective accurate reflection probably not a fun tv show but that butthat you know that's an interesting point you make because um you know even right now while we haveyou know big debate in the united states for example on abortion and transgenderum you know lgbtq movement and so forth and you know it feels to some extentlike we're we're you know we're reverting back on some of those social issues butif you look at the broader progress humanity makes this is the point that brad templetonmade in that other episode we had is that generally speaking you know the thestewards who look back in history at these things um they lose out because technology alsorequires us to philosophically evolve as a species andum you know we have we have seen that in terms of as you mentioned the civil rights movement and other things we areyou know we've got more progress to make on that front but we have made tremendous progress which is audibleyeah i think that's worth considering and just in terms of the general gender roles remember in 1962 is the yearwhen marilyn monroe sang that very famous and sultry serenade presidentmr president that's right just a few months before she died and there was scandalous at the time it wasrumored that she was having an affair with the president uh and so there were that's kind of like who wasn't having anaffair with jfk i mean today this stuff would be like explosive right you would never no it would beintolerable and it would be in the front page yeah back in the day it was kind of wink-wink not um so so that's a little bit of like ahistorical perspective and i guess yeah you're right it shows us that we make a kind of progress maybe it's lurching anduneven progress uh you know in the united states people today feel stagnated and they feel frustrateduh career-wise because um our wages haven't gone up real real working wageshaven't gone up in about 30 years but around the world that's not the case and around the world hundreds ofmillions of people in that 30-year interval have moved into the middle class and that's a gigantic achievementfor humanity so it's on especially in china that's exactly what i'm talking about and indiaand indonesia and other parts of south asia but also in latin america and just to put that in perspectivein 1962 when the show came out the average income in the united states was five thousand five hundred dollarsto buy a home a new a new house cost twelve thousand five hundred dollars right so it was like two two and a halftimes your annual average annual salary which is and today it's 20 times that's a general salary yeah a new a new carthe great American dreamcost three thousand dollars you could import a car for about fifteen hundred dollarsa gallon of gas cost 28 cents in 1962. so my goodness so no wonder peopleweren't stressing out about income and stressing out about work and stuff you know if you wrote that story today you'd have to take into account the fact thatpeople are struggling to make ends meet the costs are high income hasn't grown and so forth wellthe great this is the great american dream you know back in those days if as long as you worked hard you could havethe the white picket fence the you know the four four bedroom home the new car every couple of years the dishwasher andthe appliances and things like that because the wages match the consumptionand that was you know this massive middle-class growth that happened in the u.s but of course in the 1980s um youknow late 70s and 1980s we had both thatcher and reagan um ha you knowreally put a lot of pressure on the trade union movement collective bargaining then we had the deregulation of thefinancial services market all of that led to as you said that stagnant wage growth butin china we haven't you know we've seen that wage growth it incredibly improved they've eliminated extreme poverty overthe last 20 years entirely in china whereas now in the us the number of people living below thepoverty line line has climbed so there's more net people in the united states in terms ofpure numbers living below the poverty line today in the u.s and there are mexico so you know that's an effect of the sortof stagnant wage growth but you know and it's and you know that's why we're so sensitive to this inflation right now isthat that that that margin of error you know or that mark that buffer in betweensalary and a you know a healthy existence is so thin these daysbecause of um you know stagnant wage growth and that's a problem of wealth distribution and that again as youmentioned you know this is a problem really wasn't discussed but it was hinted at in in the jetsons and it'ssomething that in as we get more and more automation we're going to have to pay a lot more philosophical attention to how do weguarantee that distribution of wealth because the us is the most prosperous economy the world has ever seen whichbelies the question why is it that health care outcomes are so poor in the country you know and you know why don'twe have you know why doesn't everyone have access to you know phenomenal education and so forth you know youwould think that the wealthiest country in the world could provide those basic core needs to uh to to the whole of societywell brett it's a choice right it's a decision right and as you point out we've got 50 years of neoliberaleconomics this sort of milton friedman school in the chicago school of economics that preaches extreme distribution ofwealth you know where you've got the the great deal of wealth going to a very small number of people thatconcentration of wealth upsets the balance it also actually ultimately upsets a democracy it makes it very difficult for a democracythe potential of humanityactually did they ever have voting did they have a show voting on the jokes they did not no no in fact they don'tshow any civil society or government as far as i can tell so it's interesting so they'll automate it they weren't issues at the time becausepeople took that stuff for granted it wasn't dramatically interesting where today if you think about a showlike game of thrones it's all about political struggle and you know kind of the bloodthirsty cut and thrust of howto get how to get to the throne that's the most popular tv show in history um and and it's you know gory uh it'scompletely fine but it's all about a struggle for the top it's a struggle for the crown right you wouldn't have told a story like thatin 1962 because that just wasn't a theme it wasn't a mainstream themei think that's one thing that we need to get back to you know if you think about the 60s you know particularly with thespace race the atomic age and so forth it was all about the potential of humanity that's whyjetsons as a cartoon in many ways existed is because we were thinking about the potential of the future andwhat it could do for humanity but you know the super competitiveenvironment particularly post the oil crisis years you know in the 70s has produced this heightened view ofcompetition we compete on an individual level for salary we can compete we can compete company versus company for forclients for revenue for market share we compete nation against nation for globaltrade and so forth but in the 60s it was really about competing for humanity forthe future of humanity and yes there was still competition but it was secondary to advancing the humanspecies hopefully the competition that we had at the time was the cold war right so therewas the system which was expanding let's let's not forget in the 1960s marxist-leninistway yes they were on a path to global revolution right all the colonial countries in africa for instance inlatin america were subject to to infiltration and manipulation by soviets so you had that as a threat andactually you know we don't talk about this much and in the united states we're not supposed to talk about it i guess butthe united states was a lot more fair to workers when the soviet union existed and as soon as the soviet union went outof existence in 1990 when you know when the cold war ended lo and behold we have this surge ofinequality and suddenly workers are being treated poorly why is that the case gee let's think about that for asecond so there was a real competition of ideas and it was lively in the 1960sbut the competition of ideas was between western-style capitalism and soviet-style socialism right orcommunism if you will and um and that competition of ideas forced governments around the world to think about fairnessand equality and treating labor right making things accessible making education accessible don't forget in the kennedy years they opened up a wholebunch of colleges uh trade schools right the idea was to educate workers and the government invested resources thegovernment didn't it wasn't run on the same basis that we run the government today this kind of like economic measurement of roi and every singledecision a very short-term perspective instead they were focused on the long-term values because and create youknow we heard a lot more talk about the american way of life yeah the defenseagainst the communist movement and everybody in the country todaybut today we don't hear talk about the way of life we you know we hear about making america great again but the focusisn't on producing a way of life that everyone's comfortable with necessarily it's getting back to traditional valueswhen in fact you know that that way of life that everybody could prosper that everybody could beum prosperous have a new car every few years have a roof over their head have you know um you know the roast dinnerevery sunday um you know the tv where they could you know have that leisure time and entertainment and the kidscould be out playing sports on the weekend and so forth that way of life that was really valued we've lost a lotof that you know and that's something that i think if we are going to have highly technical societies like thejetsons it's got to be based on bringing that sort of quality of lifeto every corner of humanity rather than you know just a select few who own theassets and the wealth uh you know the power the the future of hit you know highly autonomous societieswhat a manifesto and what thought do you think we should leave leave it on apart from that umvision you just shared with us all right i like that vision just fine no listen it's a really it's a stirring visionright we took a fairly trivial thing a fairly trivial topic today a cartoon show it was about about 100years in the future that's now aging and it is definitely showing its age uh with all of its built-in biases andall the people in the story who are erased out of the narrative so some of that stuff did not age well some of thetechnological forecasts well those were pretty as spot on some were not um but as you can see these narrativesthat we tell ourselves can have a profound impact and sometimes they're a reflection of the society around them and so forpeople are listening today i think let's take that away from this uh say like gee what stories are we telling ourselves today about the world we live in in thefuture that we're about to build where is the vision of progress and is it a vision of shared progress isthat an equal vision of progress so i like the note you just shared with us i think that's a powerful manifestowell you know um if you like this episode you know what to do you can go and give us a five star rating on itunesuh you can tweet us out you know um rob and i you know we don't do this type ofepisode every week let us know what you think you know would you like us to have more discussions on the future like thisof course we can bring guests in obviously we focus on the futurists that are building the world of tomorrow butsometimes it's good to get into the weeds and talk about whether the future is going to be good or bad and how we're going to get to a future that'sdesirable and positive for everybody so that's what we uh we thought we'd do with the jetsons today let us know whatyou think about it and don't forget to as i say you know leave us a review and thanks to our production team to kevinharrison to uh elizabeth severance um you know silvie and carlo who help usyou know put the show together each week and thank you all for listening as well um we really enjoy being on this showrobert robert and i and we enjoy the fact that you guys find it intriguing and interesting as wellbut you know what we're going to say next right we will we'll be back next week wewill see you in the future in the future [Music]well that's it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hope you did please subscribe and share itwith people in your community and don't forget to leave us a five star review that really helps other people find theshow and you can ping us anytime on instagram and twitter at futurist podcastfor the folks that you'd like to see on the show or the questions you'd like us to ask thanks for joining and as always we'llsee you in the future

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