[ExI] Economics of SENS

Aleksei Riikonen aleksei at iki.fi
Tue Jun 17 12:11:26 UTC 2008

On Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 2:40 PM, Kaj Sotala <xuenay at gmail.com> wrote:
> However, I don't think all that many people would actually choose to
> retire: AFAIK, even most lottery winners who get millions tend to keep
> working anyway, and many of the wealthier individuals who could, given
> a few years, save enough money to live off interest nevertheless
> continue working.

You're limiting yourself to thinking only about relatively wealthy
people who have jobs that they like, even though they are a small
minority of humans in the world as it currently exists. For most jobs
that the economy currently relies on, one cannot find people who would
do them if they had a bit more choice in the matter.

On the other hand, I guess we *are* only talking about wealthy people
when talking about (S)ENS. I mean, it makes no sense to provide ENS to
someone who is still struggling with getting clean water and feeding
their children. Before one gets around to offering ENS to them, one
has presumably already dealt with their more pressing concerns,
thereby making them wealthy in the sense of the word used here. So if
we were in the position to offer ENS to everyone, we would anyway by
some other means have transformed the economy so that there wouldn't
be so many horrendous jobs as there currently are. (And I find it very
unlikely that those horrendous jobs will be dropped before we have
machines/AIs replacing the humans doing them, since dropping them
earlier would hurt the economy and us rich folks, most of whom don't
really care about the less fortunate.)

> I tend to agree with Aleksei's point that we're likely to have very
> advanced AI by the time indefinite lifespans are possible, with a
> difficult-to-measure impact on economic estimates such as these,
> however.

What's difficult to measure about whether companies will choose to
hire humans once there is higher quality labour available for a
fraction of the cost?

(If some legislation forces them to hire humans, it would just be an
exceptionally stupid form of welfare -- a better arrangement for
everyone would be for the economy to be more productive by using more
productive workforce, thereby creating more wealth to be handed out to
humans in less perverse ways than forcing companies to hire sub-par

Aleksei Riikonen - http://www.iki.fi/aleksei

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