The Jetsons as Futurists
with King & Tercek
The Jetsons as Futurists
with King & Tercel
In Episode 20 of The Futurists we look at July 31, 2022 which 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.
Hosted By Brett King, Jason Henrichs, & JP Nicols
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This week on the futurists one thing the jetsons didn’t really do was to tackle the whole economic side of this you know you don’t see poverty in the you jetsons we assume that is sort of in a post-scarcity abundance society and a lot of the work that george was doing was very technical related i mean okay he was pushing buttons but his company was it mr cogswell or whatever it was his plus i can’t remember yeah but um that company was working on technology for the world um and so i think you know more and more companies are going to obviously have that focus
if you grew up like rob and i did watching cartoons on saturdays you probably already know the show we’re going to talk about on this episode in fact uh july 31st of this year was the fictional birthdate of george jetson from the jetsons and we thought it’d be interesting to take a bit of a dive into what the jetsons predicted and we know what it’s mean for society what they got right what they got wrong and you know what it potentially means for society in the future given the jetsons was talking about a time 20 or 30 years from now and how the jetsons may yet still predict some of the things that we have coming rob do you do you remember the jetsons growing up as a kid who could not remember the jetsons the jetsons and the floonstones were foundational concepts and media literacy when i was a kid yeah they were on the air constantly we were bombarded with cartoons those cartoons and many others of course but those were really really relevant i think compared to some of the other things like you know looney tunes cartoons with bugs bunny and elmer fudd and so on uh for some reason the hanna-barbera cartoons really resonated with our generation and apparently they continue to resonate with people you know the funny thing about the jetstans is they only made one season they made 22 shows and 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 show was introduced um it ended up having a lasting impact but at the time it was kind of like yeah you know just another show um one of the reasons it didn’t it didn’t last you know the first season um was the only season that they produced initially was because it was produced in color and you have to go back to 1962 and realize that most households didn’t have color tvs in fact most households didn’t have color tvs until 1970. so very few people could see it in color and that show in black and white i imagined would not be nearly as fun to watch uh so they were very futuristic i suppose the two producers hannah barbera when they produced it they um they had vision about the future of television and in a way i’ll bring that one to life so brett how about that 100 years how did they arrive at george jetson’s birthday how did they figure that out do you have any insight i i yeah i don’t know 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 know what it it always you know when i was growing up in the you know like the 70s and 80s the 2020s were the future right it wasn’t 2 000. it was like 2020 is is what we defined as the future you know so and here we are in the future yeah how does it feel you’re here now exactly but i i did find out something interesting um the jetsons of course resided in orbit city it was called um you know there’s a lot of talk about orbital cities now and so forth we had rosie the robot and so forth but the city’s architecture was rendered in what we call the googie style have you ever heard of this that’s huge i live in la man it’s everywhere yes of course um so um you know it’s not the google style let’s be clear it’s the googie style but this is the style of architecture that sort of influenced the way we thought about the future in the 60s and so forth so um everywhere you drive in la you see houses on stilts with with the groovy uh the groovy signature style um names on them and then the garages the parking garages are underneath so that idea of a house on stilts is uh is the inspiration i mean i imagine that the the producers would drive past houses like that all the time when they’re on their way to work in la and they decided then to uh to make that the theme the visual theme for the show it’s like just make the stilts taller make the buildings higher so let’s talk about some of the things they predicted that um you know have uh impacted our day-to-day life uh these days of course the most obvious one i think probably be would be the video phone now i thought you’re gonna say the robot the flying car come on well yeah you know flying cars and rosie the robot we’re going to definitely get into that um you know the sort of humanoid personification of androids right but um if you think about the video phones that was the majority of their communication now in the 1960s that was pretty out there you know we had dick tracy you know which which was a concept earlier than the jetsons of course but in the jetsons they took it to a new level they had um telly tele schooling you know um part of the schooling was done on video they had flat screen tvs and they had smart watches which you could do video calls from as well so all of that was fairly advanced thinking yeah one episode even uh elroy the boy alvaro is watching the flintstones on his wristwatch which at the time seems super futuristic and today it’s like yeah so what you can everyone now yeah exactly and of course you mentioned rosie the robot um so rosie helped the kids with the homework um well you know we do have some robots that are learning assistance robots now um like um i’m just trying to get the name of of um the 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 is rosie did a lot of the household chores and we don’t have robots that walk around but we do have robots that vacuum and mop the floors today yeah yeah for sure and people keep telling me they keep getting better and better 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 as time-saving devices go you know you can even get them mowing the lawn now cleaning the pool um you know there’s variations on it um but the big thing is you know obviously you know vacuuming the floors you can just leave this thing to go it is a big saving um device but it was sort of that push button society that was embedded in the whole jetsons world so and speaking of push buttons that’s what george did for a living his job was to push buttons at a factory right so uh in every episode you’ll see them pushing buttons you know they want to make a meal a little screen magically appears then they can select what meal they want to make or you know if it’s time for elworth to go to school the mother’s crazy food princess yeah yeah then they can select the destination and those pneumatic tubes you know some of it is a bit of a joke like the the pneumatic tubes that transport people up and down right elevators that was a throwback to department stores in the 1920s nightbreak that had those pneumatic tubes but they thought 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 trains like you know hyperloop and things like that so you know if you wanted to extend that concept but i’ll give you a quote from from one of the episodes i watched in preparation for this from george jensen at work he said boy these three-hour days are killing me now um if if you know his work pattern his work consisted of an hour a day two days a week now this at the time and even today seems a little bit ridiculous but in highly automated societies that we’re going to see develop over the next 20 to 30 years we know that artificial intelligence is going to have a massive massive impact on employment so it may be that we end up working you know far less hours than we do today or having something like universal basic income because we’ve been replaced by artificial intelligence what do you think i think this is a moment for some humility as a futurist because futurists have been making this prediction for more than 100 years oh as we automate more and more stuff in society people will be working fewer hours we’ll have more time for leisure we’ll all be artists you know what brett here it is in 2022 when we’re no closer to that vision than we’re working harder than ever dude yeah no but having said that i mean if you look at the structural elements of employment um you know the right now the sort of supply and demand curve argument this is what i wrote about in rise of technosocialism is the likelihood is that you know we’ll replace more and more humans with ai anywhere there’s process you know processes that can be repetitive you know you can get algorithms or robotics into there um and that means that essentially you know the demand curve that we talk about in terms of meeting that from a supply perspective we’ve got less and less human labor dependence there because we’re using more processing cycles but it doesn’t mean we won’t work and i don’t i think um you know this is where the key argument comes from ai disrupting employment people like people need work they need purpose in their life but what the ubi trials are telling us is that people start their own jobs at a much higher frequency on ubi than the general population people get much more involved in community and social activities at a much higher rate with ubi and don’t forget you know we are going to have a big you know a huge demand on labor for climate mitigation in um you know particularly from the 2040s onwards that’s going to require a lot of human involvement so i just think the role of work 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 already an 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 work part to start the the the thing about the the ubi though liberating people from dependency on work and particularly dependency on physical labor um i think that’s really promising vision right so you say yes yeah we can automate more and more things robots robotic systems automated systems can produce more and more uh parts more and more finished products and even transport them so many of the physical tasks in industrial society and in advanced manufacturing are going to be automated i think that’s a safe bet i don’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 purpose where do the humans migrate to well there’s a great deal of opportunity for humans to invent new things and um if many folks who are big big bulls and big believers in this robotic future they say look humans have never ceased to find new needs to invent new wants and new desires right and i think that’s a really useful way to look at this robotic future it’s like okay what gifts have you got what skills have you got to invent things that people will desire and as there’s a surplus of human labor and human imagination available we’ll probably start to do more imaginative things i would imagine the more things that require human imagination more novel mashups more creative yeah maybe more handmade stuff you know as more and more as more things are produced on an automated that will drop in value and the perceived value will go away as well it won’t seem so scarce or rare so highly polished manufactured things that almost are perfect that’s what you’ll get from a robot um we’ll turn to humans for wabi-sabi you know that kind of like flawed the artifact uh the handmaid’s the detail that lets you know that a human being did it and that’s a great creative pursuit so listen if that’s the future we’re aiming for where we’re all potters and knitters and gardeners i’m open to that idea i think that could be great fun one thing the jetsons didn’t really do was to tackle the whole economic side of this you know you don’t see poverty in the jetsons and issues you know we assume that is sort of in a post-scarcity abundance society and a lot of the work that george was doing was very technical related i mean okay he was pushing buttons but his company was it mr cogswell or whatever it was his boss i can’t remember um but um that company was working on technology for the world um and so i think you know more and more companies are gonna obviously have that um focus but it’s sort of really the question of economics in highly automated societies is a good one because if so much of society and resource allocation is highly automated um not only where do humans add value but how do how is economics work when so much of what we have is just immediately available like the food printer you know as an example or um you know like you know when when she was doing the grooming for the kids and things like that you know your hairstyle could be changed by the machine or the toothbrush um you know robot hand that came out things like that but all of this time saving and all of this automation um you know creates a society where so much of our daily needs are met by that high level of automation what need do you have for money if all of your basic needs are catered for if you’ve got a 3d food printer that can spit out food and you’ve got a 3d printed home that you can live in homelessness that doesn’t it doesn’t exist and you’ve got these not so fast here and hang on hang on hang on so a closer look at the show will reveal that actually they airbrushed an awful lot out of that story so one of the things to pay attention to when you look at old forecasts for the future including cartoons like the jetsons is what’s missing what didn’t they think about what were some of the things that were happening in society right then when they were making that story that they left out and they neglected one thing you won’t see in the jetsons is black people or people of color right so you know this isn’t this is a show it was created in 1961 1962 there were race riots in the united states the the civil rights movement was in full swing and just a few few years later the civil rights act would be passed in the united states so this is a very present part of american society at the time but it was airbrushed right out of the story and with respect to that vision of abundance brett i’m sorry but i gotta chime in i hate to be the downer here in this 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 the spacesuit uh where uh where george’s boss and their big rival competitive firm are trying to develop a flying suit and one of them drops to the ground now you never see the ground in the show you actually see it a couple of times but only a couple times but it really it raises a pretty interesting question like well over orbit city where actually is orbited city it’s in the sky who lives on the grounds they’re built on these uh you know pylons or towers or uh you know they’re up in the they’re raised up on pillars well the spacesuit falls to the ground and guess what it lands on a homeless person it lands on a hobo and so it turns out that there is a guy walking around on the ground and it’s actually interesting he’s walking around like a park it’s like a green park but 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 call a homeless person today and so the the economic story that’s implied there is a little darker than what you’re suggesting because what it says is that there is abundance in this world of the jetsons but it’s abundance for the rich people who have jobs who live in orbit city and then the poor people who don’t have good shoes who are homeless they live on the ground on the planet earth now when they went back to redo the show in the 1980s when ted turner’s uh turner broadcasting controlled that library uh they bought they bought a hannah barbara and they they brought the show back and they made more episodes and and um unfortunately 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 play up this theory uh they they emphasized this notion a little bit in subsequent episodes where you know the earth had been spoiled the the environment was spoiled that’s why they had to live in in these these tower cities and sky and so forth that’s a little bit of a 1980s addition to this show might not have been necessary but what they did is they underscored 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 in flying cars and they live in this great city and there are people who do not
and that’s sort of the elysium you know vision as well if you see that you got a matt damon movie right that movie is the jetsons i mean it’s it’s the jetsons the dark perspective it’s the worm’s eye view like the person on the 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 elysium is basically a high-tech version of the jetsons and and that’s one of the flip sides potentially of ubi you know if you’ve seen um the expanse universe i don’t know if you’ve ever watched the expanse sci-fi in the expanse you have two classes of people you have those that are part of the elite class um you know and this is on 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 earth you have two classes of people you have the wealthy elite and you have the basics those are on basic and you know um so that creates the stratification of human society because yes you have all of your needs looked after from a basic income perspective you don’t go hungry you have a roof over your head you have clothes access to you know healthcare and education but that’s it you know you don’t have the wealth and abundance of the the wealthy elite class those are you know involved in governments or own own the technologies and corporations that create like genetic engineering and ai and all of those sorts of things and that that is a highly probable outcome of highly tech highly automated societies unless we figure out a way for better wealth distribution because the way we think of wealth distribution today is as the economy grows we get better paying jobs and 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 a problem yeah that’s interesting listen yeah i could go deep on uvi i’m i’m skeptic personally um i think that i think it’s a dangerous thing for people to be dependent on a handout for for their income but it seems like what social safety net do you have if if ai takes jobs you know you’ve got to have something so this is a philosophical debate you know this is a philosophical debate we’re going to have let’s just think about truck drivers affected by you know autonomous vehicles um now you know andrew yang has made this point and you know united you know depending on where you sit on the political spectrum but he said you know like we talk about retraining truck drivers as coders but how realistic is that you know when you look at coal miners and others who’ve been displaced because of uh changes you know the reality is it’s not very realistic so you can’t just leave them to be without income you know you have to provide some level of support so depending on how large scale technology unemployment is you know that’s where we start talking about solutions like ubi and of course zuckerberg you know mask um you know mark cuban all of these guys um you know peter thiel all of them talk about ubi as a fairly um you know logical outcome of technology based on importance of course they do of course they do they’re billionaires i mean come on this is a billionaire’s approach to dealing with people who are displaced by their technology right they say exactly let’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 so think about the person who’s receiving ubi where’s the agency there where is their ability to determine their outcome you’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 it sounds like a scheme where they foster huge dependency on a government that hands out things and then there’s another 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 rewards okay 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 that was going on was the beginning of the vietnam war and the pigs invasion in in uh cuba and the cuban missile crisis so we had the coal cold war in full swing and it was a shooting war and um now of course you wouldn’t expect to see that in the children’s cartoon but there is an episode where george gets drafted by the military and so this was not on the periphery people wouldn’t even remember that one either even a kid’s cartoon would be aware of this uh of this dynamic that there were people who were being drafted and sent away to some war far away in another part of the world what was that about why didn’t they forget have robots doing all the war well 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 house uh one point the drones rosie falls in love with another robot and uh the robot uh the the the superintendent of their building sends his robot away for repair and rosie’s pining for that and in another 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 that she’s going to be replaced and so she she goes away she runs away from home a robot run away now this notion is about effective computing computers that have emotions and computers that can sense our emotions and maybe even predict and anticipate our emotions while that’s a highfalutin way of describing a kid’s cartoon that’s clearly the intent that they had with those episodes where rosie’s feeling things and understanding the way people feel this is a huge topic in computing and it’s one of those topics that is like sort of permanent dawn in the sense that the sun never fully rises on effective computing where computers can discern how we feel and how we’re responding today when you call a call center and you’re on hold for 25 minutes or you’re navigating through voicemail hell a series of menus trying to find the person who can answer your problem they actually have effective computing systems listening to your voice tone and they can tell whether or not you’re getting angry so people don’t realize this but it quietly and invisibly this kind of effective computing has started to enter our world and into our experience unfortunately in the worst possible way uh through call centers um but nevertheless people have that experience today so we might not notice it we might not 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 are being monitored right now by effective computing so that’s another one that the jets yeah i read i read a google research article on that um recently actually and and like you said it’s the the sort of emerging dawn thing um the reality is that we haven’t really still cracked that particularly in terms of uh facial recognition with emotions it’s it it turns out you know you can be smiling and you can be upset right and so um you know there’s uh there’s other cues micro expressions and things like that um i did want to get into the whole robot um play in this because um obviously um you know the way we have thought about robots in science fiction generally and android is a very common form of robotics we see just displayed in science fiction so of course you had uh um you know the forbidden planet you had um um you know the the robot from uh lost in space um you had hell named lieutenant commander data you had metropolis you know all of all of these movies portrayed uh robot um or human-like robots now the word robot itself comes from the czech word roboti which came comes from a play that you know um or the first use in in in fiction there was in 1921 with rossum’s universal robots um of course that was in check and they presented the robots as these electronic servants um and if you go back a bit further you had the steam machine man at the prairies which was 1877 i think in terms of um you know these penny penny novels that were were written in in you know in in the states and this was a steam steam machine based man that would be able to pull um you know carts around instead of horses but um you know we have got this common theme of robots being servants for us and them being in this android form in fact the the czech word robotic literally means a serf a you know a indentured servant right um and so this is again something that you know we are going to you know we here talk about robots rights and things like that the jetsons definitely sort of dealt with that a little little bit in respect to robot personalities and so forth but you know if we do get sentence sensor machines which seems fairly likely you know what sort of rights they have and the respect for other intelligences and that we have to share um the planet with you are starting to see some awareness creep in you know the the fact that um octopuses um demonstrate uh forms of intelligence that you know dolphins have complex uh speech patterns and so forth and yet you know we consider them food today so um it’s interesting to see how the emergence of an alternative intelligence in the form of ai might change the way we think about species that we co-exist with whether they are ai you know machine-based species or whether they’re the existing species we have something like jets and necessarily dealt with you know so if we can create an intelligence that we consider sentient which by the way some people already think we’ve done they’re wrong but nevertheless they think that we’ve created ascension robot so maybe we’re on the brink maybe we’re knocking on that door and then what you’re you’re you’re assuming or you’re proposing that that might cause us to value other kinds of sentient creatures other life forms like octopuses uh dolphins um we might we might value them even more 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 sentient robots what are they going to think about us yeah and why would they care about us well you know i i i where the creators be you know they have to co-exist with us um you know unless they’re they’re skydiving those are two pretty big those are pretty big assumptions the first thing that the robots are going to do is make better ones right then they’ll be the creators and with respect to us like do they have to share the planet with us we’re profligated wasteful we can’t manage our healthcare yeah we we create pollution like we’re we’re incredibly inefficient we’re maybe the most sophisticated biological organism on planet earth but i think a new form of life that’s not biological in origin might look at us and say what an inefficient process let’s just get rid of all these things that’ll solve the problems entirely well the the other thing is that when we think about robots and how they might interact with us is we’re often thinking about how super powerful humans with high order intelligence would respond and it’s you know the absolute power corrupts absolutely concept but you know we’ve got no guarantee that robots with you know higher intelligence than us may think like humans of course they could think much more differently from they could be pure logic machines they could think very differently from humans so when we can’t assume they’re going to be sentimental like it’s a gigantic blunder to assume they’re going to be sentimental about us i think they’re going to look at us with some large measure disgust yeah yeah yeah i mean thanks for that upbeat uh assessment you know you’re getting
what did you have for breakfast this morning i’m sorry the other thing i noticed i was looking at the jets and thinking about today’s show is how many things didn’t change how many things were in the show that were buried at the program every single week there’s an episode where they they go to a football game or you know george is playing golf with his boss or there’s um you know there’s there’s a space cubs which is like the boy scouts you know where the sun elroy is there there’s car dealers and bank robbers all this stuff seems like artifacts from a bygone era like oh wow these are these are kind of the tv tropes there was no internet either not in the way we think of it there was obviously automated systems and um you know you could select from menus for food and things like that but um you know and there was but it was more tv like in terms of the way they portrayed yeah everything was tv and tv is a big part tvs in every episode tv is the 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 george is 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 their spare 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 the metaverse though by the time you know we’re in george jetson so they uh they spend a lot of time on tv the the el roy wins the tv contest in one show in another in another episode uh both judy the daughter and elvery uh have a tv career and george has to quit his job to go manage their career and so television is a big role the other thing i noticed in looking at it about things that never changed or changed slowly or retrograde in that show is the role of women and um this is really extreme first of all the idea that women would have jobs in 1962 in this tv show it was supposed to be about 100 years in the future that idea yeah doesn’t exist like women don’t have roles outside of the home even in the opening trailer the opening credits uh george is dropping everyone off at school and then uh his wife uh jane he offers to give her like a 20 billion she takes the whole wallet so she takes his wallet and then goes to the shopping center and then many episodes george is at work dreaming about when he gets home he’ll have a nice uh cooked meal his wife will cook his meal and massage his feet and so on and it’s like wait a minute what kind of gender roles are are we propagating here for you know a time that’s theoretically 100 years in the future there’s even beauty contests uh in the show so like we have a lot of retrograde stuff and she gets stressed out about answering the video phone when her hair’s a mess you know and and things like that so yeah it’s it it was a very 1960s view of gender roles and so forth and of course that way we meet certain amount of transgender people or that’s great exactly that’s right so we have to make progress in that respect that’s exactly what i’m thinking is that society continues to move ahead in a fitful way you know it starts and stops but it does lurch ahead and sometimes there’s genuine progress that’s made you would never you would never write a story like that today you would never make a tv show where the gender roles are so unequal if anything today you’d probably talk about how families are juggling jobs and fan and family time and you 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 but that you know that’s an interesting point you make because um you know even right now while we have you know big debate in the united states for example on abortion and transgender um you know lgbtq movement and so forth and you know it feels to some extent like we’re we’re you know we’re reverting back on some of those social issues but if you look at the broader progress humanity makes this is the point that brad templeton made in that other episode we had is that generally speaking you know the the stewards who look back in history at these things um they lose out because technology also requires us to philosophically evolve as a species and um you know we have we have seen that in terms of as you mentioned the civil rights movement and other things we are you know we’ve got more progress to make on that front but we have made tremendous progress which is audible yeah i think that’s worth considering and just in terms of the general gender roles remember in 1962 is the year when marilyn monroe sang that very famous and sultry serenade president mr president that’s right just a few months before she died and there was scandalous at the time it was rumored that she was having an affair with the president uh and so there were that’s kind of like who wasn’t having an affair with jfk i mean today this stuff would be like explosive right you would never no it would be intolerable 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 a historical perspective and i guess yeah you’re right it shows us that we make a kind of progress maybe it’s lurching and uneven progress uh you know in the united states people today feel stagnated and they feel frustrated uh career-wise because um our wages haven’t gone up real real working wages haven’t gone up in about 30 years but around the world that’s not the case and around the world hundreds of millions of people in that 30-year interval have moved into the middle class and that’s a gigantic achievement for humanity so it’s on especially in china that’s exactly what i’m talking about and india and indonesia and other parts of south asia but also in latin america and just to put that in perspective in 1962 when the show came out the average income in the united states was five thousand five hundred dollars to buy a home a new a new house cost twelve thousand five hundred dollars right so it was like two two and a half times your annual average annual salary which is and today it’s 20 times that’s a general salary yeah a new a new car cost three thousand dollars you could import a car for about fifteen hundred dollars a gallon of gas cost 28 cents in 1962. so my goodness so no wonder people weren’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 that people are struggling to make ends meet the costs are high income hasn’t grown and so forth well the great this is the great american dream you know back in those days if as long as you worked hard you could have the the white picket fence the you know the four four bedroom home the new car every couple of years the dishwasher and the appliances and things like that because the wages match the consumption and that was you know this massive middle-class growth that happened in the u.s but of course in the 1980s um you know late 70s and 1980s we had both thatcher and reagan um ha you know really put a lot of pressure on the trade union movement collective bargaining then we had the deregulation of the financial services market all of that led to as you said that stagnant wage growth but in china we haven’t you know we’ve seen that wage growth it incredibly improved they’ve eliminated extreme poverty over the last 20 years entirely in china whereas now in the us the number of people living below the poverty line line has climbed so there’s more net people in the united states in terms of pure numbers living below the poverty line today in the u.s and there are mexico so you know that’s an effect of the sort of stagnant wage growth but you know and it’s and you know that’s why we’re so sensitive to this inflation right now is that that that that margin of error you know or that mark that buffer in between salary and a you know a healthy existence is so thin these days because of um you know stagnant wage growth and that’s a problem of wealth distribution and that again as you mentioned you know this is a problem really wasn’t discussed but it was hinted at in in the jetsons and it’s something that in as we get more and more automation we’re going to have to pay a lot more philosophical attention to how do we guarantee that distribution of wealth because the us is the most prosperous economy the world has ever seen which belies the question why is it that health care outcomes are so poor in the country you know and you know why don’t we have you know why doesn’t everyone have access to you know phenomenal education and so forth you know you would think that the wealthiest country in the world could provide those basic core needs to uh to to the whole of society well brett it’s a choice right it’s a decision right and as you point out we’ve got 50 years of neoliberal economics this sort of milton friedman school in the chicago school of economics that preaches extreme distribution of wealth you know where you’ve got the the great deal of wealth going to a very small number of people that concentration of wealth upsets the balance it also actually ultimately upsets a democracy it makes it very difficult for a democracy actually did they ever have voting did they have a show voting on the jokes they did not no no in fact they don’t show 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 because people took that stuff for granted it wasn’t dramatically interesting where today if you think about a show like game of thrones it’s all about political struggle and you know kind of the bloodthirsty cut and thrust of how to 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’s completely 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 that in 1962 because that just wasn’t a theme it wasn’t a mainstream theme i think that’s one thing that we need to get back to you know if you think about the 60s you know particularly with the space race the atomic age and so forth it was all about the potential of humanity that’s why jetsons as a cartoon in many ways existed is because we were thinking about the potential of the future and what it could do for humanity but you know the super competitive environment particularly post the oil crisis years you know in the 70s has produced this heightened view of competition we compete on an individual level for salary we can compete we can compete company versus company for for clients for revenue for market share we compete nation against nation for global trade and so forth but in the 60s it was really about competing for humanity for the future of humanity and yes there was still competition but it was secondary to advancing the human species hopefully the competition that we had at the time was the cold war right so there was the system which was expanding let’s let’s not forget in the 1960s marxist-leninist way yes they were on a path to global revolution right all the colonial countries in africa for instance in latin america were subject to to infiltration and manipulation by soviets so you had that as a threat and actually you know we don’t talk about this much and in the united states we’re not supposed to talk about it i guess but the united states was a lot more fair to workers when the soviet union existed and as soon as the soviet union went out of existence in 1990 when you know when the cold war ended lo and behold we have this surge of inequality and suddenly workers are being treated poorly why is that the case gee let’s think about that for a second so there was a real competition of ideas and it was lively in the 1960s but the competition of ideas was between western-style capitalism and soviet-style socialism right or communism if you will and um and that competition of ideas forced governments around the world to think about fairness and equality and treating labor right making things accessible making education accessible don’t forget in the kennedy years they opened up a whole bunch of colleges uh trade schools right the idea was to educate workers and the government invested resources the government 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 single decision a very short-term perspective instead they were focused on the long-term values because and create you know we heard a lot more talk about the american way of life yeah the defense against the communist movement and everybody in the country today but today we don’t hear talk about the way of life we you know we hear about making america great again but the focus isn’t on producing a way of life that everyone’s comfortable with necessarily it’s getting back to traditional values when in fact you know that that way of life that everybody could prosper that everybody could be um prosperous have a new car every few years have a roof over their head have you know um you know the roast dinner every sunday um you know the tv where they could you know have that leisure time and entertainment and the kids could be out playing sports on the weekend and so forth that way of life that was really valued we’ve lost a lot of that you know and that’s something that i think if we are going to have highly technical societies like the jetsons it’s got to be based on bringing that sort of quality of life to every corner of humanity rather than you know just a select few who own the assets and the wealth uh you know the power the the future of hit you know highly autonomous societies what a manifesto and what thought do you think we should leave leave it on apart from that um vision you just shared with us all right i like that vision just fine no listen it’s a really it’s a stirring vision right we took a fairly trivial thing a fairly trivial topic today a cartoon show it was about about 100 years in the future that’s now aging and it is definitely showing its age uh with all of its built-in biases and all the people in the story who are erased out of the narrative so some of that stuff did not age well some of the technological forecasts well those were pretty as spot on some were not um but as you can see these narratives that we tell ourselves can have a profound impact and sometimes they’re a reflection of the society around them and so for people 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 the future that we’re about to build where is the vision of progress and is it a vision of shared progress is that an equal vision of progress so i like the note you just shared with us i think that’s a powerful manifesto well you know um if you like this episode you know what to do you can go and give us a five star rating on itunes uh you can tweet us out you know um rob and i you know we don’t do this type of episode every week let us know what you think you know would you like us to have more discussions on the future like this of course we can bring guests in obviously we focus on the futurists that are building the world of tomorrow but sometimes 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’s desirable and positive for everybody so that’s what we uh we thought we’d do with the jetsons today let us know what you think about it and don’t forget to as i say you know leave us a review and thanks to our production team to kevin harrison to uh elizabeth severance um you know silvie and carlo who help us you know put the show together each week and thank you all for listening as well um we really enjoy being on this show robert robert and i and we enjoy the fact that you guys find it intriguing and interesting as well but you know what we’re going to say next right we will we’ll be back next week we will see you in the future in the future well that’s it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hope you did please subscribe and share it with people in your community and don’t forget to leave us a five star review that really helps other people find the show and you can ping us anytime on instagram and twitter at futurist podcast for 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’ll see you in the future