Pic is create by me.
Voice sounds remarkably like that of my dearly departed friend Dan. Which is probably a coincidence.
Look, the article and book by Zoltan Istan is just a great story. I recommend buying the book. The basic premise of the book is quite sound – “religious and reactionary US extremists take over the nanny state apparatus of a United States wracked by failure and inadequacy, and crack down in a paroxysm of luddite psychosis against those progressives people are doing all the hyper-ambitious research that’ll change our lives for the better.” Yes this idea is sound. The US as a society is clearly a failure of long term ambition (progress) management, whereas the EU was a failure in that regard well in to the 20th century. Yes no society on our planet is doing pretty much OK right now. My personal theory is that big state isn’t a cause, it’s a symptom. The cause of all human woes, IMHO, is that we as a species (a) are not intelligent enough for certain levels of complex society, (b) we overbred because we could, yanno antibiotics, industrialized agriculture, fertilizers, cheap energy and (c) now we are running out of this cheap energy we don’t have anywhere the required societal management systems to cut down on the near infernal overconsumption we are facing in society. Nanny state isn’t the problem, it’s just how human leaders are – grandparent types who feel all bliss if they can give presents and play Santaclaus (The New Deal, Welfare, Pensions), but who are all curmudgeons once no one listens to them.
The disease we face as western society isn’t an asshat Dubya in charge, it’s the fact that the guy is bitter because he can’t party and rev the engines like His dad could, back in the old days when oil still cost 10$ a barrel. So when Zoltan writes about the State suddenly going McCarthy on Transhumanists, he does have a valid point.
However. I can give you a dozen other forces of persistent moronicism on this planet that gravitate towards the same pathology. Basicly Luddites who misconstrue progress with danger. And as far as bad goes, the State has actually become pretty irrelevant. Politicians all agree that right now the state is a substantially lesser force of constraint and repression than the corporate. So my stab at Zoltan’s monologue isn’t about me disagreeing – it is about me pointing to a whole ecology of other management cultures (other than conservative retarded political dumbasses with too much power) that are far more aggressive to “speculative experimental progress and practical futurism” than the state. I am a lot more worried about the confluence of status quo bankers than a bunch of reactionary xians.
[In Khannea SunTzu remarkable new novel she’ll never write – The NeoProgressive’s New Deal – the leader character, Cassandra Assange (Daughter of Julian Assange, born in 2003), is the target of literal micro drone assassination attempts, a vicious media campaign and endless incapacitating litigation. She became a political activist like her father in the mid 2020s, and now exemplifies the new counter-cultural ideal. Militantly lesbian and technoprogressive she gave birth of a clone of her wife, and her wife gave birth to a clone of Cassandra in the late 2020s. Shortly afterwards a microdrone (suspected of NAUS origine) crawled in to their apartment in Australia and her wife died. In part as a defensive response to this omnipresent threat Cassandra fled to Berlin with her barely surviving daughters and pursued a political career as part of the Pirate Party. As a highly visible and widely emulated media icon Cassandra rekindles the ANON movement in to “New Individualism” or NYM ideology).
Cassandra is a tall girl, standing at just over six feet. She is muscled from years of diving and long distance running in Australia and is in her late 20s. She has long braided hair woven with bright glowing strands and she is heavily tattooed with a dragon running down her shoulders. She is ferociously hated in the (former) United States, in part because of the political activities of her father (whom she barely met in life) and who was himself assassinated with Polonium isotope in 2016. Cassandra exemplifies anti-corporate culture and militant anti-capitalism. It isn’t even that she is any particular active or has any particularly strong convictions, but the symbolic value of her name and statements made the US ‘war on terror machine’ (now thirty years alive and as visibly a miserable failure as the earlier US wars) kick in to overdrive. Half the world renditions “terrorists” to the US by the thousands every year and Cassandra is high on the list to be “Guantanamoed”.
In the last few years Cassandra wrote a few books, and ran for the Pirates in Australia, Sweden and Germany when she was still in her early twenties. The moment she appears on the political radar she became effectively unable to travel outside Europe. As the US transforms in to the NAUS (now including former England, sans Scotland) and the European Union transforms in the European Alliance (now including Russia) at the end of the teens, Cassandra survives on running on a political ticket of staunch anti-Americanism. This includes the rainbow selection of very popular talking points, including banning human gene patents, governmental research in to life extension, renegotiating general intellectual properties completely, legalizing private of ownership of 3D printers and reorganizing the world financial sector.
Her 2028 decission to give birth to a GMO (genefixed) clone of her lover Melancholy ended her inheriting the label of “transhumanist”, a derogatory term in the continental US. In the late 2020s Transhumanism in the US was increasingly associated with “democracy”, another historical artifact that is not well appreciated in some circles, like “socialism” half a century earlier. So Cassandra finds her somewhat against her will to become the figurehead and symbol of a international anti-corporatism. And with result – one can get arrested in the CONUS wearing a ‘che’ T shirt with her face on it.
Upon Melancholy’s death Cassandra living in Europe has become inescapable. EA becomes her prison.. Cassandra flees Australia in the diplomatic mail, and settles in Berlin where she has a massive following. This increases political attacks on her, this time executed mainly by means litigation. Cassandra has a legal team that has to wade through hundreds of lawsuits between the years 2029 to 2031.
This is including completely irrational (but high profile) lawsuits that her appearance and styling are in large part based on the FoxNey CGI “eviscerator” game, franchise and movie characters of Cassie Deveraux
Cassandra now survives on political donations by means of BitCoin, which has embedded her firmly on the NAUS terror watch lists, as BitCoin violates the 2018 Amero union banking laws.
Her wife dead, one child partially paralyzed and one child emotionally traumatized by this barrage of state hatred, Cassie has fought depression for months and is now perfecting her survival strategy by running for the New Individualists block as a EA senator, spearheading a Pirate ticket. That decission diminishes the drone assassination attempts, but it made the legal and media attacks become a constant toxic background hiss.
Oddly, in 2031 the NAUS turns eager to talk to her.
The overtures starts subtly from Microsoft “intermediaries” and take weeks, like a baroque online dance. Everyone knows that MS AI’s are heavily intertwined with EA and NAUS state governance and that in effect MS executives are by and large NAUS State Department executives. The last attempt to browbeat her in to Parlay comes as subtle as would such attempts from Baron Harkonnen to discuss the art of Kanly with Duke Atreides have been.
But all this back and forth kinda makes sense, since Denver would be burning through a lot of state department money every month to go after her. Cassandra isn’t dismissive of meeting yet another suit, but she doesn’t see the Microsoft angle. Why would the US state seek to settle its case by entangling Microsoft in to the mix?
Cassandra, discusses this with her oddball cyberpunk media team, shrugs and agrees to a meeting in town. Getting there by limousine is acceptably unsafe but the risk was manageable. Lunch at Berlichingen, 12:30 PM with one PR executive Crowles.
If Cassie has any residual optimism regarding the get-together she abandons it completely when she looks at Crowles. He is Mister Dead Eyes, eerily similar to Udo Kier. The man seems to have been genetically bred to radiate contempt and to project intimidation. This isn’t anything like an olive branch. This man has come to her to break her spirit.
Crowles has elected to receive her seated in a private fumatorium room with table. He housed a Havana just before she enters. As she strides in he nods and he takes a long sip of his night black quadruple espresso. Cassandra catches the reflection of dead fish eyes in the coffee.
A sustainable minimum of pleasantries drifts back and forth. The ambiance is analogue to that of a Alcor Dewar. Crowles gets to business and his contempt as thinly disguised as a bloody uruk hai axe wrapped Furoshiki style.
“I am here to offer you a billion Amero, Miss Cassandra”, Crowles pipes as amicably as Dominican Nun in Inquisition Drag. “We will negotiate with third parties to abandon all attempts to harass you if you follow a certain list of steps precisely. ” Crowles gestures towards a coffee coloured DDR-style plastic binder. “It is quite simple. You retire from public office. ”
Cassandra blinks once. Crowles continued, after pausing for another lubricating sip of dark ooze of Tsathoggua.
“For you taking steps to disband your initiatives to become an Alliance senator. You might be wondering why we would invest a Billion, but rest assured, the current budget of these aforementioned third parties is bigger than this billion. We would desire nothing less than full administrative retirement and we will give you guarantees…”
(…A clear hint at where these drones were coming from…)
“..and you can live what’s left of your life in peace. The amount has been made available for you to deposit on BitCoin, as an amount linked to Amero. Swiss bank account. If you honor the terms of the agreement, you’ll get an ante of this reimbursement in the next months and once your decision becomes verifiably irreversible the remainder in a year. You may retire in the Alliance, we don’t care where, as long as you completely step away from public life. We suggest Greece. I hear Greece is the perfect ambiance for the likes of you. ”
Cassandra shirks being stunned for a moment, then regains her composure. All this is quite direct and downright rude. For the US state department a Billion Amero BC is not all that big an investment. These people use BC to bribe warlords and assets worldwide on a daily basis, since nobody outside the US is dumb enough accepts Amero. Bitcoin is very hard to percolate back to the US since it is next to impossible to exchange there, with these DHS banking laws in effect.
Outside the US a billion’s worth of BitCoin will allow her to buy several houses and live in obscene luxury for the rest of her life.
These deals are common all throughout the 2020s. Lots of people fell for these corporate offers, and even at that the BC equivalent of a Billion Amero was a very high offer to betray all she stands for.
Cassandra is actually tempted for a split second, but curiosity prevails.
“Show me your terms” she inquires maintaining detachment. Crowles smiles cautiously and breaks the seal on the binder. The artifact was 3D printed solely for her benefit, seal and all. The insides are all plastic cards that shimmers in holographics and thus are difficult to photograph unless from precisely the right angle and distance. Even then, Cassandra has attended the meeting without recording devices, as per agreement, and glances over at the terms of the offer.
Parts on Basic Income makes immediate sense. NAUS hates the popular basic income in the Alliance. The idea of basic income has been spreading – China, Japan, Australia, India, Brazil all offer their citizens a lean basic income and media agitators in the mainland US call it “populist democratism”.
There are some points on her abandoning her political struggles on Intellectual Property and patent laws and that was also to be expected.
An article on population growth quota. Fertility quota is a sensitive point for Americans, who still let in a few million highly educated ‘guest workers’ every year. Yanno, “pay taxes, wear a guest worker uniform, maybe become a citizen”, that sort of thing. The EA on ten other had has closed its borders and has applied population growth quota on all member states. In fact, that’s why Cassandra had originally agreed to ‘marry’ Mel – she didn’t want to constantly be slandered a racist. It is so easy to confuse birth quota with racist immigration policies.
Her father had pioneered these points in the mid teens as an Australian parliamentarian, nothing surprising there.
However… contract point 15. Distance herself publicly from transhumanism. Denounce ‘neo-eugenics’. Denounce the life-extension articles she was currently running on in Alliance parliament. She looks up at Crowles her face betraying her confusion.
“Oh I see you noticed a few key points” Crowles smiles like a shark
“..that’s why we offer a Billion. You may understand we have our own motives. Let’s not belabor these points, you may appreciate we have our motives in the US. Let’s keep it simple – we just don’t like people in the EA to make claims they are “progressive”. It is a tautology as far as I am concerned, and quite silly. I mean, seriously. The EA is a demographic mausoleum.
” Transhumanism … it is .. distasteful. Old modernist ideology, not that dissimilar from Communist utopianism. You are the most visible spokesperson of this outdated ideology world wide. We simply don’t like it. You have been hammering this Transhuman filth over here in the EA. You are associating New Individualism with Transhumanism. This whole notion has been a nuisance for us for decades as you may appreciate.
” Let’s be simple about it. Transhumanists are in essence hackers” (he states with a deeply menacing undertone) “and that means terrorists. Very simple. Transhumanists are hackers. They upset the established status quo. That means they are terrorists. Plain and simple. We dealt with hackers quite nicely – most of them are resident of the 52th state now.. ”
That was a reference to Cuba. Guantanamo.
” However you also have credibility in this distasteful field. Transhumanism is actually spreading in Russian EA. There are actual ‘Transhuman’ political parties there. If your european initiatives popularize these memes, it will signify a considerable annoyance for us. ”
Crowles looks closer, for full force of intimidation.
“Do realize the alternatives, Cassandra. Not take this deal and you’d live in your Berlin Bunker for the rest of your life as a Teleworking Senator riding a telepresence drone working 16 hours a day for a pitiful wage.
” Take this deal and you’d be living along the Greece Riviera in considerable luxury. Understand closely – the state department, and we at Microsoft and Monsanto we had enough of this nonsense of “birth quota” in the EU. We don’t want further research in to “life extension”. This expensive nonsense is hurting our medical patents.
” Seriously, what is this “life extension” doing? Just a few statistical years since the beginning of this century? – it is pitiful and it costs Alliance taxpayers billions. But those few extra years are breaking states world wide under the accumulating costs for pensions. And the measly extra 20 months gained by life extension are costing medical conglomerates billions, as people need ordinary medical treatments later.
” That is why a billion is a spare change for us, Cassandra. We get rid of you, we have you discredit and step away from this Transhumanism Science Fiction modernist nonsense, are all better off.
” We want things to remain as they are Miss Cassandra. The corporations of this planet need technological and scientific stability. People who fall in line. Predictable, not constantly disrupted by these chaotic new technologies or politicized utopian science.
” Young people should remain consumers, playing their little MS Dreamscape games all day. Keep them in food aid and labour reserve and please don’t start this nonsense of trying to give these dead end idiots a “basic income” for doing absolutely nothing and being available for forced labour or the military.
” What kind of democratist drivel is that? Who is going to pay for this democratist nonsense? Certainly not the corporate sector! And that’s our core point of this contract, Miss Cassandra. We want to nip this whole growing Basic Income nonsense in the bud. Giving useless bums a few hundred euro is already an affront to Capitalism and free markets. The advances you already made are inspiring similar initiatives in Britain – NAUS territory. England is NAUS now, despite of it still having ..” (whince) “…a parliament. We do not want this basic income and life extension nonsense to catch on in London.”
“Are you kidding me, Crowles?” Cassandra finally blurts out.
“Do I look like I’m kidding, Miss Assange?” Crowles eyes are especially icy.
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. Even though it’s near impossible for me to attend, since I forcibly had to sever ties with the people that do organize this conference (I had to bail from a shared project for health reasons).
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.
It isn’t very likely i’ll be there (unless I win the lottery), but whatever.
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.