Here’s a nice story.
Last year I spent a few days and nights in central San Francisco. I stayed in this hotel, just north of Tenderloin. It was a fairly rough neighborhood, coming from local hobbit ville frame of reference. I liked it all right and I had no issues there. The cops didn’t even bother me. I must have looked like a “harmless foreigner”. One night I went for a movie. Checking online I found Judge Dredd playing just around the corner. So imagine me walking in to a cinema in Dystopian SF and watching Judge Dredd.
Halfway the movie I got really in to it. It’s a pretty decent movie. And I forgot I was in the United States. No seriously, I was in a movie theater halfway across the planet from my home, watching an exciting movie and I literally forgot I was not in my country of residence. And I realized I was completely and utterly exhausted. I was thinking dreamily – “after the movie all it takes is a short bike ride and I’ll be home.” I was literally thinking what I might have in the fridge back home, maybe I could have a snack. I was looking forward to my own bed.
Movie ends. I shuffle out and fuck. It’s midnight in one of the most intense Dystopian cities on the planet, probably more intense neighborhood, after watching hyper-violence Judge Dredd. I swear, I almost went bad right there right then. Walking back to the Hotel felt a little .. uncomfortable.
I was always fascinated about those looming black basalt cities of the Flying Polyps. I came across the wikipedia page of these Lovecraftian Monsters, with some mediocre art. I am sure I can do better.
The basic premise is that these spectral monstrosities infest planets. They are truly alien, far more alien than most Lovecraftian monsters and communication or negotiation with them is more or less impossible. The Polyps erect miles high basalt towers vaguely comparable in internal structure to termite mounds. Once these creatures take root on a planet it becomes next to impossible to root them out. Like many other trains of Lovecraftian monstrosities once these thoroughly take root on a planetary body they will completely change, sterilize and lay waste to the planetary surface, and will introduce new forms of life native to their own original dimension.
On the internet and in the media there has been growing discussion of technological unemployment. People are increasingly concerned that automation will displace more and more workers—that in fact there might be no turning back at this point. We may be reaching the end of work as we know it.
What happens if vast numbers of people can no longer make money by selling their labor? How should society respond? What follows is a list of possible responses to technological unemployment. This list may not be complete. If I have missed anything, or misrepresented anyone’s views please say so in the comments below. Also these responses are not meant to be mutually exclusive; many of them can overlap with each other quite nicely.
(1) THERE IS NO PROBLEM; TECHNOLOGICAL UNEMPLOYMENT IS A MYTH
There are many economists who still maintain that technological unemployment cannot happen, at least not on the large scale described above. The reasoning for this argument is called the luddite fallacy, which explains that although automation does displace workers, it simultaneously leads to lower prices. These lower prices in turn stimulate consumer demand and provide the basis for new industries, which in turn hire more workers. The luddite fallacy has more or less held true for two hundred years. The question is will it continue to hold true in the face of the computer revolution and accelerating technological progress? How can we be sure new jobs will arrive fast enough to offset the jobs lost?
(2) UNCONDITIONAL BASIC INCOME
This is a fairly straightforward solution. Since growing numbers of people won’t be able to earn money from their labor, it might make sense to just give everyone a guaranteed income whether or not they work. This would allow the market economy as we know it to continue, since putting money in people’s hands would prop up the cycle of consumer spending. Often this idea is characterized as socialist, and in some senses it is, but this characterization overlooks that the goal of a UBI is actually to save market capitalism. Moreover, with a guaranteed basic income many other socialist programs like social security, unemployment, and food stamps could be dismantled and replaced with this far more streamlined system. An obvious question is, where does the money come from? A variety of ideas have been suggested; Marshall Brain details several possibilities in his essay Robotic Freedom.
(3) OPT OUT OF CAPITALISM AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DECENTRALIZED TECHNOLOGIES
This is a more individual approach that does not rely on government intervention. By taking advantage of new decentralized technologies and living as cheaply as possible, people might be able to increasingly just opt out of capitalism and consumerism entirely. This approach is advocated by Federico Pistono in his book Robots Will Steal Your Job But That’s Okay and could be facilitated by forward thinking engineering projects such as Open Source Ecology, as well as upcoming advances in technologies like solar panels and 3D printers.
(4) RESOURCE BASED ECONOMY (OR AUTOMATION SOCIALISM?)
This is an alternate economic system advocated by The Venus Project “in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few.” This arrangement is made possible by aggressive use of advanced technologies to create an abundance of resources and thereby negate the need for any sort of rationing. Although Jacques Fresco, the founder of the Venus Project, claims his system is distinct from socialism, it appears to me to be fairly conistent with an extreme version of what has been called “automation socialism.” I believe the socialist comparison is apt since RBE implies the end of both private property and wealth concentration. In any event, this system sounds idyllic in principle but naturally raises the question “How could we get from here to there?”
(5) WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION ACCORDING TO AN INCENTIVE SYSTEM
This approach is advocated by Martin Ford in his book The Lights in the Tunnel. His approach overlaps heavily with the unconditional basic income idea in that his goal is the same: put money directly in people’s hands so they can spend it and keep the market economy going. The main difference is that instead of making the income unconditional, Ford advocates doling out money according to an incentive scheme that encourages behavior society desires. Among the hypothetical examples Ford mentions is paying people to read books.
(6) WORK TOGETHER WITH THE MACHINES
In their book Race Against the Machine, Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson suggest that we should try racing with machines. In addition, seminal futurist Ray Kurzweil has repeatedly expressed his view that we are destined to “merge with machines.” How might this resolve the technological unemployment problem? Well, technological unemployment ultimately stems from the fact that automation advances much faster than people can learn new skills. So if we can find a way to directly upgrade human minds—such as through the use of brain-computer interfaces—then workers would be able to keep pace with technological change and readily adapt to new jobs and industries as quickly as they crop up. Moreover, super intelligent humans might develop new desires which would in turn stimulate new industries. Alternately humans might become enlightened and decide they no longer need a market economy. Either way the problem would be solved.
(7) SMALL SCALE POLICY ADJUSTMENTS DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE EDUCATION AND FOSTER INNOVATION
A lot of more traditional pundits admit there is a potential problem with technological unemployment (or at least technological inequality) but seem uninterested in any of the more drastic solutions mentioned above. Instead they push for a series of common sense policy fixes, such as fixing education to better prepare people for STEM fields or reforming the patent system to mitigate drags on innovation. These policy tweaks are designed to make the economy function incrementally better in this new technological era.
(8) GET THROUGH THIS TRANSITIONAL PERIOD AS FAST AS POSSIBLE
One line of reasoning argues that technological unemployment can only ever be a temporary problem, since the day is approaching when we will literally print out all of our food and other necessities. Thus the problem only arises in the awkward transitional period: after we’ve automated large numbers of jobs, but before technology has lowered the cost of living to near zero. Therefore we should try to accelerate technological progress by whatever means necessary so that we can make the painful transition as short as possible—much like tearing off a bandaid.
(9) OPTIMISTIC LIBERTARIAN
This position argues that as long as government stays out of the way the transition will be relatively smooth and painless. Yes, there will be less jobs available, and certainly people’s incomes will suffer, but technology will simultaneously bring down the cost of living at a fast enough rate that people will survive just fine without the need for government invention or economic restructuring.
(10) ISSUES LIKE TECHNOLOGICAL UNEMPLOYMENT ARE DWARFED BY EXISTENTIAL RISK
It’s possible a technological unemployment crisis would simply be a pitstop on the way to a much more dangerous crisis involving artificial general intelligence. Once AGI arrives we will have much bigger issues to contend with, such as will the human race survive being displaced as the most intelligent beings on planet Earth? So while technological unemployment might be worth worrying about at the margins, really the bulk of our energy ought to be devoted to this more substantial threat on the horizon. This position is advocated by the Machine Intelligence Research Institute and others.
(11) INSTIGATE REVOLT, PROTEST, UNIONIZATION, REBELLION. TAKE DOWN THE SYSTEM IF NEED BE. IT IS A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH
Humanity had natural, emergent direction and purpose in the Pleistocene. Direction was determined by very simple selective pressures. Humanity either acted or it died, and life as a result was relatively straightforward … or at least for those who survived. Then the Holocene happened, continental sheet ice melted, waters flooded lowlands and humanity was compressed into an ecology of intraspecies competition. This gave almost linear causal rise to agriculture, cities, states, tyrannies, slavery, laws, taxes, animal selection, infectious disease, war, conquest, the racist instinct and religion.
All of the above are contrived solutions to the existential void left by the change from Pleistocene to Holocene. Humanity was forcibly shoehorned in to becoming a predatory species onto itself. To cope, nature had to ‘hack’ its anthropic neurology, literally program itself ‘on the fly’. Much of this new human operating system is based on violence, force, tyranny and lying. Very little of it will last – things like mathematics, philosophy, science, art, technology. The struggle of our age is to exorcise the redundant or pathological coping mechanisms – the demons – of our ascension from being a contemptible and brutal animal in to becoming something we could all aspire to. This is the essential battle for the soul humanity and there is a real possibility this battle will fail.
In response to this post on KurzweilAI …
The realization (which might be either delusional or epiphanous) that we might extend our unique personal identity well beyond the mortality horizon imposed by our biological natures, will be a cruel thing. I am not saying this cruelty is “bad”.
When a plane crashes (or in a death camp, or during a natural disaster) human beings end up in a state of terror for a while, and then fall in to this placid state of acceptance – shock – when the body exhausts itself struggling what it perceives as “inevitable’. The various transhumanist inclined visionaries (such as Ray) are now rekindling that “original terror state” by making bold promises we might actually perpetuate ourselves in some form of post-natural state of identity awareness.
It could be we simply gradually transition from the current biological-neurological embedding, towards another “synthetic substrate” pattern continuity, essentially remaining ourselves. Or we might endure sharp and punctuated transitions where one moment we were us, then the next moment we give rise to some sort of fundamentally different offspring that only happens to “share a majority of our predispositions and memories”.
Whatever the case, Ray and consorte succeed in raising hope, and in the face of guarantee personal annihilation hope can be a bloody painful thing. Hope carries with it great personal responsibility, as in “now I have to content with life for another indeterminate amount of time”.
What Ray does completely seems to miss is the fact that for the vast majority of human beings life is a mostly unpleasant state of being. Our current world sucks incredibly much and people only endure it “for those few happy moments”, “for the occasional orgasm”, “to get drunk with some friends every week”, “because of the interpunctuation of vacations”, “because family members would be so abandoned without me”.
People hate work, hassle, bodily discomforts, pain, boredom, and life is more about all these negatives (for most people) than about all the alleged positives. Maybe it is a 1% “ivory tower thing, an inability to see that people outside the cushioned comforts of financial privilege loathe “default existence”.
Nevertheless transhuman advances do not hinge on mass acceptance. If these technologies emerge, they will not emerge if enough people don’t want to be burdened with the new responsibilities of “more of the same existential crap” they already had to endure for the last few miserable mortgage-infested, tedious misery called “modern life”.
How can the Transhuman community paint a picture of a grandiose pleasurable (POST WORK) future filled with more excitement, more meaning, less dolor, more personal growth, less coercion? Take a look to the evenings news – the pervasive trends in the world at the very least SEEM to be in the opposite direction. Last time I hear quite a few people are “levelling up” towards antipsychotics and heavy sedatives as they find antidepressants aren’t doing the job any more.
How can “transhumanism” paint an idyllic picture of a desirable future, without coming across as a freaky reallian utopia cult?
Because if it DOESN’T work on its mass acceptance and – acceptability transhumanism is trying to sell a belief system and a technological pathway most people will find themselves instinctively recoiling from.
I mean, most people I talked to HATE even thinking about these visionary ideas. There is considerable anger out there in the trenches. Many people seriously do not want life extension, nanotech bodies, prosthetics, uploading, nootropics, space colonies, virtual paradises, etc. etc. etc. and they insist they not only do not want them for themselves, they also insist (from my limited experience) for everyone else.
The one thing this world teaches people is to be a tired and depressed and overly cautious luddite.
Btw, Ray you want my land address too?
So what is this? It is a “small” manifestation of the horrendous pan-galactic life force, “Shub Niggurath“. These are extremely dangerous things, basically hundreds times as deadly as a walking ebola plague weighing two african elephants. It’s a rather cliche manifestation of the morbid imagination of H.P.Lovecraft. These things shamble about in lonely places and in case you’d ever spot one from a distance – run away from them and do not look back.
It is the year 2113, and humanity “made it”.
It was touch and go there for a while – but the advancing tidal wave of technological progress has swept all things that could be argued problematic aside. There are over two thousand billion acknowledged citizens in the solar system, most of them in the Earth-Moon system, but literally hundreds of billions away from the inner heart of activity around the sun. There are tens of thousands of solar space colonies – most of these intricate flower-like variants of O’Neil habitats in habited by thoroughly post-humans. There are thriving colonies on all planets, on nearly all moons known a century earlier, and on dozens and dozens of centaurids, plutino’s and more distant KBO objects. And let us not forget the smaller colonies on asteroids. And nearly all of the citizens in the solar system live in a state of affluence measurably thousands to millions times as prosperous and comfortable as ‘baseline’ humans in 2013 did.
But more on that later.
In such an environment electoral politics proceeds in iterative cycles of nanoseconds, rather than primatebrain four-year voting rounds. There is great need for a consensus in the solar system, since there are many conflicts of interest. The vast majorities of the two+ trillion citizens do in fact agree on a range of matters, and one body of pervasive agreement being a diffuse alternative for the system we (even more diffusely) used to label Capitalism. There is a name for that New System, and what that new system entails is agreed upon by the vast majorities of citizens. Ingrained in that system is something we would find very strange in 2013 – the new Capitalism ‘facilitates’ discontent as part of the system. In essence the system itself acknowledges it is an act of force to implement a form of governance and some will never disagree – so it is a form of falsifiability to acknowledge discontent and make it a recursive part of the governing paradigm.
The idea that disagreement and protest would be largely anathema to 20th century thinking. Sure, in the 20th century there was the brief era of “unionization” and “populism” but this was part of the societal consensus. The version of “positively affirming discontent” in the year 2113 is an altogether novel pattern, and it emerged from the insurance industries. Around 2000 there were laws that governed society. Laws emerged from political discourse that was completely removed from the actual electorate. In 2113 every civilian has access to multiple AI systems that can represent their interests. These AIgents can be brokers for transactions, or intermediaries in disputes, or automated lobbyists, lawyers, consultants. The nett effect is that the political class itself has dwindled considerably and has been replaced by complex mechanisms of deciding right from wrong. Three hard rules remain in existence ..
1 – first consideration is survival. Citizens flock together in protecting shared interests, even if those interests are theoretical. The highest interest is survival for nearly every citizen. Hence if survival of one is threatened by some new emerging industry or technology, there is almost immediately consensus on that this development must be curtailed. This led to citizen protection laws from scarcity. In the year 2013 people would recognize this as a guarantee for all that is needed to survive; i.e. protection from toxic environment, air, energy, medical care, repairs, shelter, social interaction, education, robotic servants, whatever it takes for a very solid majority to feel absolutely safeguarded they’ll survive comfortably. In essence – there is a consensus in the entire solar system that no citizen should be without necessities. The converse is also true – citizens are not allowed to willfully endanger themselves. For example – there are no ‘organic’ human citizens allowed in the asteroids. Admittance in the complex asteroid civilizations hinges on any citizen having a very rugged robotic physique that allows survival in a range of temperatures (generally cryogenic cold) and chemical conditions (generally an atmosphere without oxygen or other corrosives). If an organic human would ever aspire to travel to the main belt Asteroids, he or she would have to bring her own conditions for survival, and that in essence would be economically unaffordable. However, if for some reason an organic human would somehow find itself stranded near Ceres (the de facto capital of the belt) then the local municipalities would bend backwards to protect such a citizen from death, even respecting the physical integrity of such a person and create an environment that would allow comfortable survival for an organic shape. Paid for by essentially billing all locals for a tax.
2 – the second consideration is a guarantee for resources that do not guarantee survival. Essentially this is a guarantee that every citizen can own a considerable number of personal properties to do with as he, she or it pleases. Generally these properties comprise automated systems that are running tasks with certain long term benefits, i.e. business. Business opportunities in the year 2113 are so universal and easy to unlock that even the smallest and outdated robotic system can find something useful to do. This means that even a very small effort by anywhere near competent AI systems generated utility, and hence profit. The expectation of profit allows for personal advancement and growth. There is however a problem that very competent systems (especially a lot of them) allow far more growth and personal advancement than others. The problem with that is that the very competent and the very rich can effectively conspire to outcompete any other citizen by a factor of millions or billions. Against such out competition there is easy consensus that the majority of citizens in any area agree they do not want it to happen to them. For example – some mogul can not be allowed to outbid everyone else on energy on local markets, since outcompeting majorities on not just survival, but also the means to have personal ambitions beyond mere survival, immediately generated democratic agreement. The converse of such agreement is that the “very successful” are taxed on property, income, predation, competition, growth, or however you dare to call it.
3 – The conclusion of the early two is that everyone in the entire solar system vehemently agrees that the number of citizens, whatever physical qualities they have, must be curtailed in procreation. Procreation is a very strong neurological force of action or desire, and it reinforced itself well in to irrational behavior. Hence the 2 trillion plus citizens of the solar system in 2113 are overwhelmingly in agreement that population growth must be curtailed. There is good news – the various authorities of the solar system have calculated that around 2150 populations will start plateau-ing around 4 trillion, and will stabilize thereafter.
All this creates some might strange tensions in the solar system. Let’s have a look at some tragedies in existence in the solar system, and to explore one particular tragedy – that of the asteroid Euphrosyne.
To understand the Euphrosyne disaster one must understand the early solar system, the tax system, how procreation worked in the middle 21st century and how travel inside the solar system works.
Euphrosyne was settled by a Terasem developmental crew in the year 2061. The crew consisted of several dozen recognizable human beings, governing a flotilla of self-assembling robotic systems. The voyage of the people took a few months, so can be classified as “harsh”. To travel to an asteroid is generally done with a cluster of ion propulsion systems driven by a small nuclear reactor. Such vessels have enormous problems radiating away their excess heat, so these vessels are usually very long, with enormous arrays that act as photovoltaics in the inner system, as coolant fins while accelerating, and as reaction mass when deccelerating the vessel. In essence such a vessel “eats up” its own mass when deccelerating towards the end goal of a voyage. For very large vessels with dozens of organic settlers, including the required payload, the required amount of thrust to attain the necessary speed for making such long hauls is brutal, and quite costly. When departing from the inner system the launch is serviced by the magnetic coil launch infrastructure near the moon, as well as the strong energy from the sun and as a consequence such a launch is cheap. Attaining a high cruising speed (“insertion”) is the relatively easy part. The tricky part is the decceleration, and such a process is even in mid 21st century market terms gruesomely expensive as well as wasteful.
Euphrosyne was a success, before people really understood what “success” means. The colony expanded explosively, and the settlers had a value system that emphasized large numbers of people. Ten years after settlement the colony had a native population of many thousands of genetically modified cyborg human beings (all of them organic and recognizable as humans) and by 2190 the population was numbering in the millions. However it should be clear that the population was by and large in complete denial about the long term lack of planning. These people would effectively become stuck on Euphrosyne. There was absolutely no way to turn these people in to much more efficient “post-organics” and even if it had been possible to bootstrap the excruciatingly complex industries required on this asteroid to turn people in to “low footprint consumers” it wouldn’t have been possible to export millions of machines or even millions of fragile and delicate uploaded minds in carrier shells to other destinations. By 2190 most asteroids that would have been accessible from Euphrosyne also had populations and those asteroids would have vehemently objected against an influx of dirt poor, welfare craving economic refugees from Euphrosyne.
The situation on the asteroid Euphrosyne is ‘harsh’ in the year 2113, yet conditions for each and every person in the asteroid would have been regarded as paradise like for people from the year 2013. Essentially the people who live on Euphrosyne are all fairly humanoid, their bodies engineered to survive in the particular atmosphere inside the endless cavernous tunnels that worm deep in to the asteroid. The amount of real estate in Euphrosyne is comparable to all the space provided by all the cities of the continental united states of the year 2013, embedded in primordial rock. This itself has destroyed the industries of Euphrosyne, since such a grotesque population has thawed the asteroid. The average surface temperature of Euphrosyne is now well over the thawing point of water ice. This has evaporated most volatiles of the asteroid, and the Euphrosynians are now forced to send their robots ever deeper in to the core of the planetoid to retrieve water and oxygen compounds. The asteroid has a very strict government – if the population of Euphrosyne would be allowed to damn well do as it pleased, the first Euphrosynians would start to die in months.
Imagine living floating in these caves, machine systems everywhere, always dozens of these beautiful creatures nearby. Euphrosyne is a beautiful place even if life proceeds very slow (by 2113 standards the rythm of organic life is regarded as snail paced). One might say that an asteroid such as Euphrosyne (and this planetoid is probably the most “dystopian” one around) is conceptually somewhat comparable to the destiny faced by “Cubans” a century before. It is ironic that the main city hub of Euphrosyne is called Habana.
Let’s face the facts – unless technology rapidly changes the feeble organic Euphrosynians are stuck on their paradisal rock. By maintaining a sustainable practices and literally cultivating a regimen of draconic recycling they will be able to survive there for at least two decades. But even when maintaining spartan practices in the long run the solar system will have to shoulder the extreme cost of either migrating these thoughtless near-baseline creatures from their self-imposed imprisonment back to the already overcrowded Earth-Moon system, and integrate them in a culture that will be able to process the quaint and outdated values of these relatively isolated living people, or venture out to Euphrosyne and literally impose an industry of uploading all these poor people in to new mind substrates and then migrate millions of them in to the cutthroat competitive environments of the main asteroid belt.
This was written by me, Khannea Suntzu. The article may be reprinted or quoted with attribution. The article has specifically been made available for reprinting for Zero State publications, IEET, Transhumanity, Singularity Hub, Turing Church, Space Collective, Singularity Network, Terasem and VenusPlusX. I may opt to slightly edit the article later on. This is the first installment of my 2113 series.
We all survived the apocalypse, and now it’s the year 2013. It was touch and go there and even though we lost some of our loved ones in the transition to a new spiritual vibratory state, we are now left to face the future. There are no more excuses. So what paradigm will we look for for a better future? What societal state should we use as an operational model for a better planet Earth? How can we think about making a dent in the mountains of problems we face?
Well do I have news for you. There is a conference this summer where I would love having you attend. I may attend myself and I am looking forward meeting you there. The conference will be held 15 and 16 june in the Lincoln center in New York.
If you consider attending reserve your tickets here, and please enter discount code GF2045-KS for your special guest offer package and the 10% special discount.
Project Avatar, Android robotics, Anthropomorphic telepresence, Neuroscience, Mind theory, Neuroengineering, Brain-Computer Interfaces, Neuroprosthetics, Neurotransplantation, Long-range forecasting, Future evolution strategy, Evolutionary transhumanism, Ethics, Bionic prostheses, Cybernetic life-extension, Mid-century Singularity, Neo-humanity, Meta-intelligence, Cybernetic immortality, Consciousness, Spiritual development, Science and Spirituality.
Hope to see you there!
The success of modernity is by and large mass-production. The total utility of a society where goods are mass produced (while it doesn’t always produce healthy conditions…) does produce very cheap goods, especially where information technology-based products and sound engineering are involved. The last decades have seen unprecedented societal growth and increase in well-being, precisely based on means of production based on generalization. And that is set to only get better as we introduce new means of production. Like – nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, etc.
However this darling progress has been hacked and hijacked by sinister forces. The geofinancial-industrial complex has tilted the scales since the early 1980s and progress, increase of productiveness, new technologies and advances in efficiency have not resulted in higher wages. This decay is a malignant political artifact, where a small and largely unaccountable elite in cahoots with our governments through a complex dance of shills, enablers, flatterers and lobbyists back and forth, has levied more and more money from the real people in to the hands of the ivory tower people.
There’s a disease that works in much the same manner and it’s called cancer.
We are left with is a pathologically rigged game and as a result we are seeing the dual paradigm of capitalism and democracy, with all its blessings, being dismantled in favor of privilege. Anyone with a penny of sense must acknowledge this is an act of war. It is designed. It isn’t even class warfare, as clearly a very small portion at the top is playing all societal strata and classes against one another.
So libertarians, statists, progressives and fiscal conservatives CAN all be right at the same time. Yes middle classes and wages are shrinking – Yes states are experiencing an arterial bleeding of entitlements. YES military imperial spending is through the roof. It is an orgy of elitist pork and 99% of people (i.e. people reading this diatribe) are left to hold the (empty) bag when this system comes crashing down.
The ultimate meaning of democracy is as a system of insurances (not assurances) against predation of the powerful. Tyranny is nothing more than allowing the hyper-entitled free reign – it doesn’t matter if the tyrant is King George, Stalin, The Sun King, A politburo, Mussolini, Saddam or some Czar. It’s always the same – people have no say and they get crushed by some career psychopath in favor of his and the small clique that actively supports him. And the clique currently forming in the western world and the US is PRETTY DAMN well armed and ruthless.
This won’t end well. In fact this seems to be a pretty damn good way to completely fuck over any chance on a Singularity since tyrannies tend to be very progress hostile.
* Legalized Stealing
I would ask people to make a minute BitCoin donation here
To see if the deposit system works quick enough. If you can send me a conformation email, so I can verify.
p.s. I live near the Hague. Dick we have a nice little cell waiting for you.
1. Every citizen can vote. Non-citizens can not vote.
2. Only a citizin with person-hood rights can be voted for. Right now the group attributed with personhood rights is limited to humans.
3. Every citizen with personhood can be voted for. Non citizens or non-persons can not be voted for.
4. Voting can be done any time and takes the form of an anonymized subscription for another person and citizen.
5. Voting is done in sequential tiers.
6. A Vote subscription can be withdrawn at any time. After losing support of two votes cast by someone else the person loses his or her tier after one week (*)
7. All people can express one vote for another citizen and person.
8. Everyone who receives two (*) or more votes are registered as being in a higher electoral tier.
9. Everyone is registered as being of a higher electoral tier
10. Theoretically there is no limit to the number of tiers. Every electoral subscription cycle the tier is half or less in size.
11. The 100 people left in the highest most tiers govern the country.
12. The 100 people left in the highest tier remain in governance for one year after they lose support.
(*) may be subject to higher variables, depends on a thorough test cycle this system. What works best.
This is actually funny if you care for chewing-gum-under-the-condom-machine-in-the-toilet kind of humor. An orgy of up-to-date geek references. Willam peach must waste so much time on fashionizing, makeup consolidating and geek culture it dazzles my danglies. I’d hit it, provided she didn’t do sarcasm on me, or I couldn’t. But hey at least she knows how to fist, right?
It is the year 2113. It is a very strange future, and one that has been shaped by the world we are already forming. 2113 is a the result of good 21st century where people didn’t die, and there was no major collapse or instability, and very few people died. There was no “great reset” and humanity made it through a number of massive challenges. This 2113 is the best world we could have inherited out of many.
In this future people have moved in to space and have swarmed the Solar System. But it didn’t just stop there – already in the 2020s people started extending their lives and the oldest person alive in 2113 is in her 160s. And it didn’t just stop there – people uploaded their minds in to machine substrates and lived in virtual realms, as well as in robotic bodies. Human bodies didn’t just enter in to a Promethean bargain and became post-human – they exploded in numbers. In the 2040s and 50s humans procreated with no constraint as human minds were copied. In the mid 21st century the number of human minds in the earth-moon system swelled from just over 10 billion to fifty billion in the span of decades, largely because of copying. All these copies and derivative minds were people too, deserving of legal recognition. By now in 2113 there are several thousand billion minds with recognized citizenship status and the tide of procreation has been slowly turned. All people live in relatively blissful conditions, amid many times as many nonvolitional artificial intelligences (processes) who are sentient and mindful, but who do not care if they exist or not. The solar system of 2113 is innundated with mind.
All this has implications. Where do you leave all those minds? Clearly these minds are by and large software entities. They exist in machine programmable substrates. Each such mind has an infrastructure guaranteeing security and computational comforts in the ton-range of what we might label computronium. Most these minds still exist on Earth – over a trillions superhuman consciousness states. These people don’t work – machines work for them, so they need to validate and meaningfully perpetuate their own existence. Many do so in unspeakably beautiful states of enhanced perception and enhanced immersion. These are no sollipsistic dream states – the trillion or more on Earth are and experience far more than Arhchangels could ever has aspired of being, doing, achieving or experiencing. But the consumption of experience required material resources and it requires energy. These minds have tunnelled towards the greatest gradient of energy available – on the one hand the energy of the Earth’s hot core, and on the other hand the free flow of high energy particles radiating from the sun – and as a third the cold vacuum of space. Facilitating all those minds and their needs was a huge undertaking. It required the reconfiguration of the Earth’s crust. Humanity burrowed down and through veins of dedicated processing infrastructure clawing through the primal bedrock, massive computational industries spread much as the roots of a planetary fungus. Heat exchangers transport warmth downward from the sun, in to the Earth, and heat from the inner Earth crust outward in to space.
Imagine Trillions of minds, the most dim of them starting at several times the processing power and cognitive ability of a single baseline human mind – ranging well in to the dizzying heights of supernatural, or divine cognitive achievement. That means – for each human several tons to sheer mountains of devices with a sophistication where down to the atom level condensed meaning is generated and cultivated. Multiply that by over a trillion, and you get a new tectonic state on Earth – atoms of the planetary crust having been forced in to a computational geology, an industry of calculation and deliberation.
Trillions of consumers have citizenship rights. They “vote”, although not in a manner we’d recognize in the early 21st century. These humans deliberate on what is important and they demand from the collectivized means of the state apparatus how available resources are used. One thing all these minds agree on is a very constrained influx of new minds. New minds cost resources. All minds agree that a certain broad range of configurations of sapiens, self-awareness, free will, desire, pleasure and unpleasure comprises a person. These persons have inalienable rights. The two trillion plus minds of the solar system vehemently agree that recognition and affirmation of personhood is the essence of civilization, and this collective insistence brings with it certain inalienable rights. One consequence is consensus that the influx of new minds MUST be curtailed.
Another consequence is that, even though to be a large mind is subject to freedom, it IS taxed. Taxation still exists and thrives, but not in a manner where it would make sense to people from the early 21st century. In essence – undesirable states, consumption and behavior are taxed. Yes, there are also illegal functions, and they are quite effectively disallowed. One illegal is murder. Another illegal is suicide. In the Earth-moon system to die is very difficult, even when its done volitionally. That’s the consequence of democracy. People in 2113 care, and they do not want to lose someone they know and most probably cherish. Hence nearly everyone in the Earth-Moon system agrees – Thou shallt not die. So in essence on and in Earth taxes are still inescapable, but death – not so much.
Imagine all those machines making computations. Imagine flows of energy. That energy has to go somewhere. Already the Earth’s surface is very hot. The atmosphere has become much thicker and natural terrestrial life can nor survive on the planetary surface. The world is bathed in a thick soup of exhaust fumes, nanobots and pushed out planetary gasses. The sky is green and overcast, but illuminated in a rather novel manner. From the planetary crust emanates a equatorial halo of literally thousands of brightly glowing spikes – space elevators. These do ferry up cargo, but the transport of material objects in and out of Earth is inconsequential with the true function of this forest of structures reaching up in to the sky – the true function is to radiate away heat from the planet.
And that it does – a forest of thousands upon thousands of sometimes hundreds of meters thick structures carries a steady flow of thousands degrees hot plasma in to Earth orbit, fans it out over a jungle of interwoven strands and surfaces reaching tens of thousands of kilometers in to space, and having surfaces of hundreds of kilometers broad planes. The leaves of Earth radiate heat away, and they glow at hundreds of degrees centigrade Celsius. All this would not make sense to people of the early 21st century. Imagine these structures rising from the equator unevenly, dotting oceans and mountains, embedded in to mountains of pure industrial shape, and imagine these gossamer strands reaching in to the very zenith, where they fan out in pitch black fractals of indescribable celestial beauty. One glance and everyone would agree – this is pure beauty. But it is function too. Well-deliberated functionality always comes with a pleasing aesthetic quality, and the nimbus of structures swirling the planet meshes with a far far greater halo of energy collecting structures tunneling electrical energy in to the Earth system. In fact the halo of devices and industries that captures solar energy is a gossamer web of physically interlocking entities that reaches to the moon and beyond. These are often thin cable like structures running for tens of thousands of kilometers, making use of scientific processes scarcely suspected in the early 21st century, and doing so quite effectively.
As I said, things are taxed in 2113. They are as long as they are forms of vanity. Possessions. Minds who own things need to pay taxes over ownership. In the Earth system everyone, even the most inadequate incompetent mind, is thousands upon million times “richer” in material goods than any baseline human ever was, but at a certain level of affluence these minds find themselves constrained by the needs of the majority of voters. Voters come to complex flowing coalitions and through these coalitions come to determine common good. The common good implies that what is contrary to the common good is subjected to tax – disincentive. Tax is then recycled back in to the maintenance of collectivized resources of all of humanity. One such consequence is that all ability – intricate forms of mind and personal property mostly is taxed, beyond a certain level. In 2113 owning tons of computational substrate, by whatever regionally enforced configuration (computronium in the Earth tectonic layers is another substance than vacuum exposed computronium in a asteroid solar orbit) means you as a person take from what other peoiple might also like having access over, and it means you get to pay for the privilege. Yes in 2113 there is still a thing such as private property. In fact, the few tens of billions of directly human derived personhoods still maintain properties and physical heirlooms dating back in to the 20th century.
Old clothes. Dolls. A favorite gramophone. Your ancestral jewelry. A painting.
But there is a certain level of measurable, algorithmic opulance in the solar system of 2213 every other mind has the freedom to disagree with. Own to much and the tax man cometh.
This can be interpreted as a form of “progress tax” but it makes more sense to label this a “displacement tax”. If you are too smart or resourceful, this is nearly always the result of knowing unique “intellectual properties”, i.e. you know things other people do not. In the worlds of 2113 this is nearly the only form of achievement – everyone is effectively rewarded by being subtly better than a trillion other citizens in doing something specific with all the means at your disposal. In that manner you create a steady growth of personal affluence, of which the vast majority (well over 90%) is taxed away in real time, instananeously, with every nano-transaction you engage in.
This burdens all minds with certain constraints on their ability. In a universe where ability is largely dictated by the amounts of computational substrate you can buy, the new evolutionary algorithm which dictates how successful you are is by and large exclusively dictated by a host of subtle nuances of ability you can’t (yet) buy, because you own the IP. Ability of course is programmable and transferable in 2113. It’s all software. However if you discover a subtle new “trick”, you get to enjoy the fruits of having made that progress.
This has created an ecology of stable states if existence and mind in 2113. It is much like an ecology of animals. In the universe of 2113 location and modus operandi dictates everything. Pain is real. Pain in 2113 is experienced by shrinkage. Becoming less of you, though reversible (recoverable) is the measure of what is undesirable, hence painful. In the solar system of 2113 sacrifice is relinquishment of mind. To sacrifice and to suffer is the loss of cognitive substrate. The trillions of diffuse citizenry of 2113 receive many free services, but beyond a certain level (and at a specific spot in the system) taxes tend to eb and flow in a complex cyclical tide to take away.
Taxes must be calculated along a predictable metric. This Metric is derivative of a digital measuring mechanism for currency. All currencies in 2113 are digital and algorithmic. There are many thousands of dominant competing forms of currency and all are subject to supply (measurable new ideas and conceptions, new ways to generate value) and all currencies are linked to the great and famous of 2113. In the solar system several great names of the early 21st century still live and name brands, corporate personhood and personal name identity flow in to one another. These great entities are very rich, very resourceful, unspeakable shrewd and ingenuous and they create massive economic progress.
The constant flow of progress creates a constant eb and flow of value. The manifestation pf progress, especially when it is created by enterprising individuals, creates power. The use of power implies displacement and quite often such displacement is physical.
Have a look at the inner solar system. The moon is aglow in cities. The Earth and Moon are linked in a halo of structures, like ephemeral glowing figure eight rings stretching like diamond dust through planetary space. Looking from afar it is clear regular geomatric patterns of illumination on Earth and the Moon signify pervasive industry and civilization. Even with human eyes from 2013 such patterns are beautiful. But they do signify a cutthroat tug of war between the realms of the collective versus the private. Self-interest collidides with state interest.
It is a quaint historical artifact that the final arbiter of collective interest turned out to become Google. Google merged with the Lunar bank in the 2060s, and created a zero point for taxation. This was an akward historical choice but it has proven largely inescapable. In 2113 taxes are 100% on that spot on the moon. Hence all entities near that spot on the moon (which is situated north of Rima Pitatus and east of the Wolf Crater) are non-profit entities. The physical structure is massive – a giant iron dome several rising over ten kilometers from the lunar surface and burrowing just as deep. Around that dome the Moon surface is barren, as by definition that spot is the highest world possible tax real estate, with the highest tax rates in the solar system, algorithmically VERY close too 100%. Life is only possible along several very narrow corridors leading in to and out of the “economic transaction equilibrium point” on the moon. Then slowly, hundreds of kilometers along the Lunar surface some very sparse spartan tax anti-havens can exist.
Every person in the solar system receives a basic income. That means that for every mind a relative level of affluence is guaranteed, and beyond a certain property and income level a certain taxation is implied. In nearly all places except a few the wealth implied by the basic income allows a standard of living literally (and objectively) millions of times as affluent as the most affluent person in 2013 is guaranteed. But in many places – especially close to the “economic transaction equilibrium point” taxes will make any sort of business impossible. To engage in libertarian practices, i.e. “enterprise” one needs t be somewhat removed from this point. So in essence the other side of the moon is the least taxed place on the moon. And this is visible – on the other side of the moon there is a massive and thriving city with conditions most locally suited for industry, traffic, service and trade. But there are other spots on the moon, generally close to energy conveyance hubs and traffic hubs where conditions are stable and predictable enough to allow for the formation of thriving metroplexes of habitation and progress.
Once you get off the moon this gets very complicated all of a sudden. It means that taxation ebs and flows with the orbit of the moon, the time it takes to transport goods, energy and information relative to the “economic transaction equilibrium point”, and (to make matters overly complex for all entrepreneurs in the solar system) with the emergence of new ideas, the consumer policies of large stakeholders (which we might naively label “the artilects”) and fads and fashions. So to conclude this first installment of my 2113 series – the Earth of 2113 is bathed in three sources of extropic illumination – the light of energy from the sun, the dark radiance emanating from the southern half of the lunar surface emanating the measure of “the golden rule” or the “social contract” and of course the subtle and pervasive emanation emitted from all region zones of enterprise scattered everywhere throughout the solar system.
This was written by me, Khannea Suntzu. The article may be reprinted or quoted with attribution. The article has specifically been made available for reprinting for Zero State publications, IEET, Transhumanity, Singularity Hub, Turing Church, Space Collective, Singularity Network, Terasem and VenusPlusX. I may opt to slightly edit the article later on. This is the first installment of my 2113 series.
Some have noticed that I have been having some heated debates (argumentative arguably) over on the Singularity Network facebook group. I have been having colorful and expressive run-ins with a few of the usual right wing suspects, namely Samantha Atkins (who has always been a fairly close friend) and Mike Lorrey (who I’d qualify as a far right Libertarian gun toting extremist). You can follow these exchanges here and here, and seriously it isn’t all that spectacular. It is the usual back and forth on how we can sustain the spending curve for developed countries. Samantha argues that the entitlement spending (in particular welfare) is so big for the united states, it can cripple the economy and literally put the country (and probably most of the developed world) on a trajectory of collapse. I agree with her on this. The budget situation in the US is dire, and it comes from way too much spending.
The difference in opinion between mine and my right-wing friends, is that modern society depends on safety and security. A society depends on people feeling safe. While some believe that the U.S. military is most necessary for safety. I don’t agree – most people in the U.S. can not survive as a consistent national entity without paying social security, welfare (which is a drop in the bucket), medicare, medicaid as well as other retirement spending. The difference between a developing nation and a developed nation (or stability versus massive unrest) is financial security, by whatever means created. In the US the system is clearly generating this security via borrowing, a trajectory which clearly can not be sustained. Even if the US stops spending anything on the military, and increases taxes to European levels (which aren’t that high these days, actually) the US can not sustain these expenditures for another decade. It is simply impossible in the long run.
Yet the US as a state entity has little choice. The US may be actively preparing for the day they can’t manage to make these promises any more (example, example, example, example) but that is just grasping at straws. NO amount of intimidation tactics by DHS paramilitaries can prepare for more than a hundred million people in the US that lose everything. The state does not have the moral authority – these cops will rather join the desperate on the barricades than protect the interests of the (political) union.
So what is the difference of opinion pricesely? Samantha claims that a society (i.e. taxpayers) does not have a moral obligation to give a damn about people that are not productive. She “does not want to subsidize” people who aren’t pulling their own weight. There are some people on the SN group that agree with this assessment, and they do have a point.
My argument is that the state must do this. Let’s assume the US would stop making these payments in the next few years – that means the state does not pay an amount of 800 billion US$ to people who have absolutely no alternative for income, payment of rent, medical care, or a range of their other needs. That includes single mothers with babies, old people in care homes who can’t even walk, orphans and severely sick people. In effect if the US would take real steps to balance its budget it would have to create attrition conditions for over a hundred million people. That means – conditions of famine, vectoring disease, crime, despair. I argue that these conditions of despair would be so severe that the other half of the US also wouldn’t have security, income, food. The looting would crash anything resembling an economy and the debt owners of the US would quickly zoom in on a rapidly inflating dollar. The next step would be a US unable to meet its obligations in debt payments, or generate an income for the remainder critically necessary expenditures (such as the most basic military protection, running nuclear power plants, making the electrical grid function, protecting against the spread of severe disease, etc.).
This is a total no-win situation that has been created by a generation of woefully corrupt and disinterested politicians. This is a dilemma that can not be resolved. There is no way to resolve it, except to keep doing the same until the existing system collapses … which would probably be even worse in the long run. Ask Peter Schiff, he has been saying it for close to a decade.