Education ‘To Earn a Living’ Will Become an Anachronism

R. Buckminster Fuller? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: In recent years the discussion of artificial intelligence and robotics replacing human workers has resurfaced. In addition, economic ideas such as universal basic income have been proposed to ameliorate societal dislocations. I am reminded of discourses from the 1960s.

The controversial pathbreaking inventor and futurist R. Buckminster Fuller believed that large-scale automation was going to render obsolete the requirement that each person ‘earn a living’. Instead, he thought individuals would engage in life-long education based on self-selected goals and desires. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1961 Southern Illinois University asked R. Buckminster Fuller to share his ideas about building an entirely new college campus. Fuller delivered a lecture which was turned into a book titled “Education Automation: Freeing the Scholar to Return to His Studies” published in 1962. Fuller touched upon the following theme several times during his career. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Much of the educational system today is aimed at answering: “How am I going to survive? How am I going to get a job? I must earn a living.” That is the priority item under which we are working all the time—the idea of having to earn a living. That problem of “how are we going to earn a living?” is going to go out the historical window, forever, in the next decade, and education is going to be disembarrassed of the unseen “practical” priority bogeyman. Education will then be concerned primarily with exploring to discover not only more about the universe and its history but about what the universe is trying to do, about why man is part of it, and about how can, and may man best function in universal evolution.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Education ‘To Earn a Living’ Will Become an Anachronism


  1. 1962 Copyright, Education Automation: Freeing the Scholar to Return to His Studies by R. Buckminster Fuller, (Text based on a talk delivered by Fuller on April 22, 1961 to the Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville Campus Planning Committee), Quote Page 43, Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Press, (Verified with scans)