Unfortunately jetpacks are insanely dangerous, cities on the moon are ridiculous, and there is still plenty of work to be done. Some people though cling to the idea that somehow all of our advances will lead to a situation where the average person barely has to work at all to be middle class. I just read a boingboing article on this very topic, and it largely blames wealth inequality. After all, we are way more productive and things are so much easier to get, so shouldn't we all be working twenty hours a week now instead of forty?
Wealth inequality is bad, for sure. It contributes to things not getting better for the average person. I don't think it is the real reason though, because there is a really simple reason - competition. We compete with each other and our standards for normal are based on what other people have.
If other people are working forty hours a week and I work twenty then I am going to be at a massive disadvantage when it comes to buying a house. I will be priced right out of the market. When we all get together and compare who has the fancier home, shiniest car, or newest phone, I am going to be left out. An awful lot of basic stuff is cheaper these days than it was in the past but that doesn't matter if I am comparing myself to other average people, especially when prices for some things like real estate are purely driven by competition and have almost no fixed cost.
The idea of infinite leisure for the average person simply doesn't hold when people can work and make money. As long as human effort is required to produce things and that work isn't fulfilling on its own (which is nearly all work, if we are honest with ourselves) then those that do the work are going to have a lot more stuff than those that don't.
I am hugely supportive of a guaranteed basic income, which ensures that people all have a baseline which can meet their basic needs. However, as long as shiny stuff can be purchased with money people will work to try to get that shiny stuff. Doesn't matter so much if that stuff is useful for the basic mechanics of life, because we don't measure ourselves by that metric. We decide if we are successful or not by how we compare to others. Barring a massive shift in the nature of humanity this is going to continue to be the case.
Imagine a future where we all have all the food we need, a place to live, and even pretty clothes to wear. However, you can work to make money to get a really super fancy hat.
Like really, really fancy.
People would be working their asses off to get a better hat than everybody else. Some would do it to try to impress potential romantic partners, some to show their mom just how important they are, and some because it is a way of keeping score. Doesn't matter why, but work like crazy to get fancy hats would be the order of the day. Those hats would get *wild*.
So don't expect the average person to start working less as technology progresses. It ain't gonna happen. Our measure of ourselves is relative to those around us, and that will keep us slaving away long after there is any practical necessity for it, even if all we get is a really sparkly hat.