[ExI] Is unemployment the future?

JOSHUA JOB nanite1018 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 5 04:48:28 UTC 2009

Sorry to jump in, but I feel I need to speak up about some problems I  
see with the arguments below.
> On Nov 4, 2009, at 9:52 PM, Emlyn wrote:
> The work ethic is wrong. Work (as in toil) is not an end in itself, it
> is a means to an end.... We think work is necessary for people to  
> live dignified lives, but
> this is false.
Work is the means to survival. You have to produce values of some kind  
(almost always material values, in some manner, in most sectors of the  
economy) in order to survive. So having a desire to be productive  
(i.e. a work ethic) is a good thing. Work is definitely not an end in  
itself, it is a means to the end of furthering your life. So some work  
is necessary to live a dignified life, absolutely. Even your example  
of retired seniors doesn't support your points, it doesn't seem. They  
are all doing productive things, volunteering and the like. They  
aren't sitting around doing nothing. So while you certainly don't have  
to be in a formal job, or be employed at that moment in time (though  
you had to be before, in order to have the capacity to forego that  
now), you still have to be productive in order to live a meaningful  
and dignified life.
>>> be disappearing. After all, a job is something which needs doing,  
>>> but
>>> which no one will volunteer to do. Somehow we often forget, in our
>>> quest for high employment levels and job security, that people,
>>> overall, fundamentally don't actually want jobs; they want financial
>>> security (ie: to be able to live), and jobs have been a necessary
>>> evil, an indirect method and usually the only way to provide that.
>> Speaking about another failure: it's pretty obvious that the current
>> retirement model is dead, having lasted only one generation of  
>> retirees.
>> This was pretty clear in 1980s already, but you'll notice that's  
>> another
>> simple fact nobody will publicly voice.
> Well, it doesn't look good in the face of the boomer retirement. It's
> a pity, because it'd be one model for getting a universal basic income
> going; that is, just keep lowering retirement age until finally anyone
> can retire whenever they like; better memetically than trying to build
> outwards from the dole.
There is a major issue with the above. In order for your statement  
that a universal basic income is desirable you must make the  
assumption that you can force other people do things they don't want  
to do. That idea violates the principle of self-direction and rational  
thinking. The two go hand in hand of course, you have to think  
rationally to be truly self-directed, and vice versa. So you can't  
force people to help others if they have decided it is in their  
rational interest not to do so; you have to respect their ability to  
make decisions just as much as they have to respect your ability to do  
the same. If you reject the ability to initiate force on those grounds  
(as it seems to me one should, logically), then you are left with  
simply an argument that charities are good things. I'll leave that  
question alone, but I certainly think that any sort of guaranteed  
(through the state) minimum income can be rejected based on  
fundamental principles.

I also don't see a reason to be concerned about that. After all, if  
some models of the economic growth that is likely to result of  
advanced AIs and nanotechnology are correct, charitable giving at  
current percentages would result in the elimination of poverty in  
terms of our modern definitions, giving the "benefits" of basic income  
without the issues with principle.
>>> (A quick aside: many of the "efficiencies" we see aren't from
>>> automation, but from exploiting cheap overseas labour, so we  
>>> resemble
>>> at least in part the slave based empires of the past. That probably
>>> undermines a lot of my argument, as these economies don't ever  
>>> seem to
>> Yep. We're cutting corners everywhere, especially out of sight. This
>> is no way to run a planet.
>>> be sustainable. So let's hope that there is actually a good chunk of
>>> real productivity gain, real devaluing of labour, real automation,  
>>> and
>>> that this can eventually entirely replace the questionable gains  
>>> that
>>> come from relying on oppressed people in depressed economies.)
>> The more you outsource or automate the more people are out of work
>> and more askew the wealth distribution flow is. Crowd control is
>> not a good way of dealing with this. Once it starts escalating,  
>> there's
>> no halting.
>>> It's time for a major shift. These societies we live in are supposed
>>> to be for the good of their participants, that's why we form the
>>> damned things. We should look at being able to live a dignified  
>>> life,
>>> if not as a fundamental right, then as a fundamental goal for a good
>>> society. In a post-job capitalist world, it's got to mean a  
>>> universal
>>> basic income. The alternative, that masses of people have no way to
>> There's surprisingly little political support for this.
> Yes. I wonder how that can change? Do you think this stuff is likely
> to fly in parts of Europe earlier than in say US/UK/Australia?
>>> participate or even live, and have no money, is actually anathema  
>>> to a
>>> market economy, because those people become inaccessible to it. The
>>> prestidigitation of the invisible hand only works if everyone has
>>> tokens with which to signal their preferences.
>>> Also I might add that if really seriously large numbers of people  
>>> are
>>> left out of the formal economy, then they will go set up their own
>>> alternative economy of some form or forms, be it black markets,
>>> alternative currencies, non-monetary sharing economies, or just
>>> outright criminal enterprise. Every one of those alternatives
>> Right now this is happening, but is increasingly addressed by
>> extremely intrusive surveillance, especially as tax revenue continues
>> to go south.
> Yep. wtf is going on in the UK at the moment, btw? Orwell seems to be
> being taken the same way as Machiavelli.
>>> undermines the formal market economy, and should worry anyone who
>>> cares about the market system. Either you include everyone, or you
>>> start making soylent green, but you can't just ignore this
>>> increasingly large marginalised group and hope they'll go away.
>> Increasingly large, increasingly angry marginalized group.
>> Thankfully, not sophisticated nor organized, yet.
> Actually, sophisticated would be bloody excellent. We now have the
> tools to organise, work, and live together in totally new ways, ways
> never seen before under the sun that aren't mediated by the money
> economy, if only we can figure out how to use them.
A couple of things here. First: What is the problem if portions of the  
world are "marginalized?" They are by powerless. On principle, they  
aren't allowed to do anything. They can't attack the formal economy  
using violence, they can't steal, they can't defraud people, they  
can't take away their property (legitimately). So what is the issue?  
Just that some people won't have what some others will? That's the  
case to day, and for good reason. It provides a strong incentive  
structure which increases productivity.

Also, the existence of multiple sub-markets is a good thing, not a bad  
one. There are different markets now for different groups. Wealthy  
people primarily operate in a different market than the people in  
developing countries (for the most part). They certainly purchase  
vastly different things. That isn't a problem, but is actually a  
strength of the market. Free markets allow people to supply whatever  
people want or need (signaled by willingness to pay). So if the needs  
of some group aren't being met by the market dominated by the super- 
wealthy or the transhumans, etc., the poorer people can start their  
own thing, making quilts or whatever like the Amish. This a reason why  
markets are a positive thing, and why they will always adapt to the  
needs of people.

The other thing I wanted to question was: What type of society could  
exist totally without money? Money is what allows people to a) not  
have to barter which is extremely inefficient and b) not use force  
against each other in order to get what they want. It is the single  
greatest invention in the history of the world, it allowed the  
blossoming of civilization and reason as opposed to poverty,  
barbarism, and mysticism. Now I might imagine a society in the semi- 
far future (perhaps by the end of the century) in which extremely  
powerful AIs might be able to provide basically everything without any  
human involvement. They might be something like the Minds in Iain M.  
Banks' "The Culture" novels. Perhaps such a society would have no need  
of money, but it isn't really a society of people anymore, so much as  
a world dominated by nearly godlike entities. The production is done  
by these superbeings who use a microscopic amount of their power to  
provide everything we mere mortals and less intelligent beings may  
desire. A world where people are interacting on anything approaching  
equal terms is going to have to be dominated by money in some form or  
another in order to function peacefully and efficiently.
>>> Or, hell, maybe the Robin Hansons of the world are right, that the
>>> market will invent a bunch of new jobs to take up the slack. But,  
>>> will
>> A bunch of pointless new jobs which just help us advance resource
>> entropy and calcify society is exactly our problem. The market is not
>> exactly helping.
>>> those be fulfilling work, advancing the state of humanity? Or will  
>>> the
>>> new new economy consist of even more disengaged people well aware of
>>> the pointlessness of their endeavours but powerless to escape  
>>> them? Is
>>> that actually the way we want to deal with the fact that the  
>>> universe
>>> no longer requires most of us to toil for existence?
>> I believe you already mentioned soylent green as an option.
>> What I'm missing is that it's pretty obvious what needs to be done.
>> But nobody is doing it, and not even talking about doing it.
>> Politically, it looks like a bad case of rigor mortis. Not much
>> seem to be happening at the grassroots either.
>> We're overdue for another revolutionary movement, but there's a
>> curious silence in the room. I don't get it.
> This is probably what it is like at the fall of empires, I guess. And
> you know, screw the empire, we never really liked it anyway. But, the
> zero dollar questions are, where to next, and how do we make it
> happen?
> -- 
> Emlyn
I will say that the empire will fall. The empire won't of work,  
productiveness, and laissez-faire capitalism won't be what falls  
however. It will be the mixed economy, socialism, and the world  
dominated by force and compulsion which falls. Where to next? Well  
back to capitalism. What we need isn't force and regulation and  
universal basic incomes to make sure everyone is included. We need to  
set people free to follow their own lights, do what they deem best for  
themselves, and think independently. A society which bans all forms of  
force is one which will enable everyone to be free to do whatever they  
wish. Technology will advance more rapidly, people will get what they  
desire more quickly and more efficiently than under a centrally  
organized system, and we will reach the day when the results everyone  
seems to strive for (a world where people don't have to be productive  
if they don't want to; even if I think that would be a horrible thing  
to do) will be a reality without any force of compulsion involved.  
Free actions of free individuals will create it. And its the only way  
to attain that end without violating at the very least the principle  
of self-direction.

This was my first post, hope its okay.

Joshua Job
nanite1018 at gmail.com

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