hello everybody, welcome to my new project “postscarcity or bust”. i’m making this because i wanted to share my vision of the post scarcity future while relating it to the everyday events we’re all experiencing. i’m not an expert in any of the material that i’ll be talking about, so of course i’m open to discussion and correction.
but first off, what is post scarcity? well, if you haven’t noticed, technology has been growing by leaps and bounds and it’s not stopping anytime soon. it’s actually growing exponentially, meaning that it’s growth is compounding on itself leading to more rapid growth. so, if the pace of technological change is already making you uncomfortable, i apologize but it’s only going to get faster.
what’s more is that technology is changing our societies. an easy example is the role that social networking has been playing in the various revolutions occurring around the world, but the real changes technology is making have yet to be addressed popularly by the media, or the universities, or our politicians. technology is about to upend our entire social order, which could be either disastrous or wonderful depending on how aware and prepared we are collectively.
i think one of the most relevant changes that technology is making to our lives is the fact that automation is taking over labor. simply put, robots are becoming more cost efficient than humans at menial tasks. it sounds nice, except for the fact that most humans make their living doing these menial tasks, and enjoy being able to use their paychecks to purchase the necessities of life, which is a little difficult if you just lost your job to a machine. the phenomenon is known as technological unemployment, and there’s reason to believe that we are currently and will be experiencing a new level of this phenomenon.
americans are now experiencing the longest average duration of unemployment on record. the government will say unemployment is around 9 or 10 percent, but real unemployment figures that include those who are underworked and those who have stopped looking for work are twice as high. although everyone is holding their breath for a recovery so they can get back to their regularly scheduled programming of mindless consumption, i don’t believe a recovery is coming - at least not for most of us. instead, i think we’ll be seeing more and more of the tasks that used to occupy our time automated, and the profits will predictably go to the owners of the machines, creating even greater economic disparity than we already have. as you can see, if we try to maintain a profit based system where people sell their labor, and suddenly the value of most human labor disappears, then most people will have little or no purchasing power and the social unrest will erupt. sadly, we’ve been given a recent demonstration of such unrest in london.
so how do we address this? well, first we have to re-examine many of the foundational assumptions of our current social model. we now know that societies that are highly stratified suffer from stress created by such conditions, that inequality itself breeds social problems. we also know that our economic system ensures such stratification by it’s very structure, so it has to go. we also know that humans are no longer needed for labor as it can largely be automated. so, why not automate labor, provide for the needs of humanity, and let people enjoy their lives?
post scarcity thinking resolves the issue of technological unemployment by not requiring labor from humans and making all goods accessible to whoever might need it. by meeting people’s needs according to our technical capacity to do so, we could create a highly equal global society which would not only relieve us of the contradictions found within our current social order, but such equality would also resolve a host of other social issues that currently go unresolved.
i wanted to leave you with a handful of links and a quote:
robotic nation (thanks eric)
"we are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not yet have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come - namely ‘technological unemployment’. this means of unemployment due to our discovery of means of economizing the use of labor, outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labor."
john maynard keynes
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