Re: [SL4] Employment vs. Singularity

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sun Aug 20 2000 - 08:46:01 MDT

Brian Atkins wrote:
> Samantha Atkins wrote:
> >
> > Brian Atkins wrote:
> > >

> > I disagree on two counts.  One, we should be able to employ our growing
> > wealth and abilities to enable people to do what most suits them and
> > most optimizes their personalities and talents, not simply whatever
> > someone will pay for.  People were meant to be a bit more than salary
> "meant"? Are you implying some kind of creator?

No, I am implying simple human dignity.  Do you have a problem with that
concept?  Do you believe that the market always functions so properly
that everyone with good skill that are beneficial to have in use will
find a paying job using those skills?  It hasn't been true too many
times unfortunately.  Or do you not find it tragic when physicists are
out pumping gas or flipping burgers for a living?

> > whores imho.  I don't think it serves us well to not optimize for each
> > person contributing what they do best regardless of whether we have a
> > job open for it that pays in the conventional sense or not.   What you
> > would/could put up with as a teen and what a highly trained but
> > currently unemployable physicist can/should put up with are very
> > different.
> Sounds like what the communists wanted/promised.

Where the heck did that come from?  I am attempting to express something
I see as a problem and you paste a label on it and seem to miss the
essence of the issue and go off battling with your label instead.  The
communists were not all wet in everything they thought a worthwhile
goal.  Their methods were pretty-much all wet as was a lot of the
original theory.  But some of the things they wanted to improve are in
fact things that it would be good to improve if at all possible.

>It sure isn't ultra-
> capitalism as I know it.

And this "ultra-capitalism" is supposed to be a really good thing?  Are
you sure? 

>How exactly would the jobs be provided for the
> "worthy" if no one wants to hire them?

If the jobs can be done more economically and efficiently by automation
and AIs in a particular area then what motivation do I as employer have
to hire less efficient and highly problematic humans instead?  If enough
jobs go in this direction then humans will become increasingly
unemployable.  Unless you believe this is ok if that is the way it is
and it is ok that these people starve if they can't find work, then
something, somehow needs to be done about it. Now, I come from a pure
libertarian and even objectivist background. Saying these things rankles
against a lot of my own former pet beliefs.  But I don't see any holes
in the logic sufficient to make the problem just go away. 

>Government subsidies backed by
> a massive tax and spend program? I'm sorry, but the world (at least pre-
> Singularity) is not perfect. If someone can't learn what they need to
> learn to get a "good" job in the new economy, then they are going to
> have to take whatever work they can get.

The way we currently do economics I would agree that this sort of
program doesn't work very well.  But the entire basis for our current
economics, scarcity, is fast disappearing as we go forward toward
singularity.  So I think there is room to rewrite the fundamental
equations and to design something that isn't just the same as some label
we have already suffered with.

> >
> > Second, I disagree that everyone can do well whatever they decide to do.
> Where did I say that? All I said was that they could do it- not that they
> would love it, or be excellent at it.

If the don't do it well and are not happy and most of all are not using
their best talents then the society, all of us, are a little bit poorer
than we could be if these folks full talent was online.

> > > theoretical event. What would be your solution to the hypothetical problem?
> > >
> >
> > Figure out as quickly as possible how to ensure all have a workable
> > standard of living including the prime necessities and room to grow from
> > there regardless of whether we have a standard paying job for all of
> > those people.  As we get closer to nanotech and as technology advances
> May I suggest you move to Sweden? I hear they have a 50%+ tax rate for
> the productive individuals, and the highest percentge of leeches (oops,
> I mean "people without a standard paying job") in the world.

It is easy to throw out this sort of response.  It is more difficult to
think about how to address the problem, if indeed there is one. 

> > we become better able to produce all the necessities and many of the
> > wants for everyone with increasingly less human labor involved.  I don't
> > think I need to quote studies for that point to be pretty obvious.  If
> Well it isn't obvious to me why penalizing (through higher taxes) the people
> who actually go through the trouble to learn how to work in the new economy
> in order to support the losers is such a good idea.

I never once said that higher taxes are the way to address the problem.
I don't think they are.  I don't know, honestly, what the answer is or
looks like.  But I think it is high time we started to think quite
seriously about whether the current economic model is reasonable to
carry forward or if we should design something new to meet the
increasingly quite different economic context. 

> > that is so then it is logical that we find ways to distribute these
> > goods and services that are less dependent on the recipients being
> > employed producing them.  As we go forward we should be able to acheive
> > greater human freedom rather than following the same "wage-slave" model
> > that developed in a very different past than the present, much less the
> > near future.
> That sounds nice, but can specifically describe your future scenario
> showing me how all this is going to work?
> P.S. you do realize that your average person who can't get a job tends to
> get depressed and unhappy? They want something to do, and if watching TV
> is all they have, they tend to head off sometimes into self-destructive
> behaviors. If we rush to put 50% of our workforce out of work just "because
> we can" and we "want to increase happiness", we may the exact opposite
> effect for many people.

If, just as a for instance I don't know how to get to, if every person
had a decent living wage and all the physical necessities taken care of
(a la cheap nano-tech matter assemblers for instance), then every person
can be quite busily employed - doing exactly what they themselves find
most meaningful and interesting regardless of whether they are getting a
conventional paycheck for it.  Personally I would have a hell of a lot
more to do than watching TV if I no longer had to work for someone else
for a living.  I have more things to do and explore and work on than I
could finish in a hundred lifetimes of such 'pointless empty leisure'. 

I have to be up very early tomorrow so I'll address more things later.

- samantha

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