When will affirmative action become unnecessary?

I know we’ve been over this topic a million times, but this is Great Debates, and I really would like to understand how people who support affirmative action think.

For this debate, we will assume that affirmative action is a good thing, but there are a few points that need to be clarified. These are my questions:

  1. What, specifically, is the goal of afirmative action?

(I’m looking for something more specific that “to make society more fair/equal.” If that’s your reason, I’d like to know:
a. What specifically is unfair/unequal in our society?, and
b. How does affirmative action help to alleviate and/or potentially eliminate that unfairness/inequality?)

  1. What metric can be used to determine how close or far from achieving that goal a society is?

  2. Can that goal be achieved, and if so, will affirmative action then become unnecessary (and thereby abolished)?

(i.e., What would society have to be like in order for affirmative action’s preponents to be satisfied? Do the demographics of every sub-group (e.g., professions, economic classes, employees at some company or government office, residents of a particular neighborhood) have to accurately reflect the demographics of society as a whole?

Is it okay if under represented groups become over represented in the future? Would such a situation then necessitate “reverse affirmative action” to put society in balance? Would it then become a constant balancing act, with different groups going in out of balance, considering the unlikelyhood that a perfect balance could come about naturally?)

If your answer to question #3 is no, then what? If affirmative action will never result in a perfectly fair society, should we be doing instead?