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#1 2013-07-06 16:17:45

Terraformer
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From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,363
Website

How far to the abundance economy?

Forked from Currency systems for self-sufficient Martian colonies.

Well, look at how many people work in the primary sector nowadays, which is the main one when it comes to keeping people alive (providing food, water, and energy). Take farming as an example - last time I checked, it was at 2% of the working population in the west, and that's with government interference (paying farmers to overproduce, paying farmers to underproduce, and otherwise distorting the market). Most of the labour that used to be involved was very much unskilled, and has hence been automated (for an early example, using a plough rather than getting people to do it by hand). I would not be surprised if we can automate most of the remaining labour for at least stable crops. Chickens don't seem to require much labour (a lot of people where I live keep them in their gardens, and, given that they keep having signs offering eggs for sale, produce more than they need), so there's your protein. Same with allotments - people manage to produce more vegetables and fruit than they actually need, whilst working on the allotment part time. We might be able to reduce that further with automation, though I'm not certain about whether we could manage the the delicate issue of thinning out the plants and harvesting without damaging the crops. Still, a farming co-operative with a pick-your-own system might get by. But if you can farm crops, then you can produce cotton cheaply as well, and probably automatically produce fabric.

Now, for housing... we're presupposing a laissez-faire system, right? tongue That should make people building their own homes easier, not having to jump through a load of regulatory hurdles. I trust that most people will pay the relatively small price to have someone qualified make sure it won't fall down and kill them (of course, this would depend on what planet you were on...). Now, I know concrete is somewhat ugly, but it's cheap and durable, and can be prettified. Or we could use wood for another cheap-ish building material. But I think we can get the cost of housing down quite low too.

As far as energy goes, I'm still holding out for solar, since it's found pretty much everywhere, but not necessarily photovoltaic. Unless we can mass print the cells. But reflectors are cheap, and we can (I think) produce steam turbines in the RepFabLabs which will dot the landscape at every farm, home and village. With enough energy, we can produce clean, drinkable water even on islands with little rainfall or groundwater (and the great thing is, it uses low grade heat). Also, we can pasteurize our wastes, although we might prefer to produce methane for a backup generator before we do that.

So, that's my vision for a first step towards a post scarcity society - you might call it a society of machinists, because you won't be able to go anywhere where people live without finding one and the associated, highly automated machine shop. It's a land of automated farms; home vegetable and fruit gardens, as well as lots of people keeping chickens; cottage industries producing a lot of the necessities of life, aided by machines; solar-thermal systems producing electricity and clean water, highly decentralised... probably involving people getting together as co-operatives to run the farms and power systems.

As for step two, add decent 3d printing into the mix, and people will be able to start making a lot more things in their own homes, probably including drugs. Add expert AI systems on top of that... just don't blame me if you think you know better than your AI doctor when she tells you to take 10mg of drug X and take 20mg instead, killing yourself. There would still be certain things that people would still be paying for (hairdressers, mechanics, surgeons come to mind), but even a lot of that might be automated using AIs (AI taechers which can adapt perfectly to the student? The aforementioned AI GP, using your health readouts?). Certainly, I would expect nearly all the primary sector, and a lot of the secondary, to be automated (what sector are those who build custom cars in - they're manufacturing cars from one viewpoint, and providing a service from another. I expect that sort of work to actually increase in such a society). But, people should be able to live comfortably on a low amount of work each week, and spend the rest of their time doing... whatever it is they do in their spare time now. Read, write, play games, make games, build spacecraft, tinker with biology, paint, fly aircraft... maybe even volunteer to help the poor people who have to put up with oppressive governments which don't let them have such cool things, like America, Canada, Britain, Germany, Russia, China, Zimbabwe, South Africa... wink

With a lot of time available, and a lot of resources, and open-source plans for military equipment, they might decide to liberate such places.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#2 2013-07-09 21:51:00

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,526
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Re: How far to the abundance economy?

Before I respond to this, I think it would be illustrative of my view on "post-scarcity" to ask a question:

Is internet a necessity?  Is it a human right?

The answer:  Depends who you ask.  I know that I would never even consider moving somewhere where the internet was slower than 1 mbps down, give or take.  I don't "need" the internet, but it would be difficult and extremely inconvenient for me to live without.  I would draw parallels to electricity in the 1930s, or even the 1950s: Not "necessary", but once you've had it you sure don't want to go without.

The point that I'm trying to make here is that there are a whole lot of things that we consider to be "necessities" for survival, but really aren't.  In warmer climates, one needs say 1 kg of relatively clean water and 2 kg of food mash per day to live.  In cooler climates, one could add a sleeping bag. 

A similar question:

Is health care a necessity?  Is it a human right?

If yes, where does one draw the line between what is necessary and what's not.  If not, what about something like a rabies injection, or penicillin for someone with [place once widespread bacterial infection here]?  There's a practical distinction to be drawn in terms of the cost of treatment, but the ideological and moral one is much fuzzier.

Further, specialization of labor begets inefficiency.  Automation is great, but logically it should still be done separately for the most part.  Given the complexity of (good-tasting and nutritious) food, plus the benefits to densely populated areas, specialized food production makes economic sense.  A program like food-stamps (expanded, so that you could actually feed a person on their per-person allowance) can then be used more efficiently to give everyone food-- if we are willing to accept that income inequality will persist.  If the system is made universal, what you have is effectively the conversion of a certain portion of everyone's working hours, doing whatever they specialize in, to the production of food.  Or at least, the exchange of their labor hours working in [X] industry to pay the salaries of food production workers.

I don't know how you feel about marxist economics, but it starts like this:  If it takes 1 hour of labor per week to produce enough food to feed one person for a week, then the abstract labor embodied in that food is one hour.  The amount of abstract labor embodied in that food is the same as the amount of abstract labor involved in doing research for one hour. 

Leaving marxist economics behind for arithmetic:  By taxing each person at a rate equal to one hour of their labor per week, and paying these taxes to the producers of food, the economy will remain "balanced."  This kind of systemic guarantee is effectively the same thing as post-scarcity for food, but it's much more efficient because it allows greater specialization of labor.

Labor is the one thing for which you can never reach post-scarcity: It will never be so common that its exchange value will be zero.  The productiveness of an economy can best be measured by the efficiency with which it distributes limited labor.  Post-scarcity for as much as the society feels it can afford is best done be retaining the specialization of labor.  In that sense, post-scarcity has arrived to some degree in most western nations, although nobody looks at it as such.

Additionally, I don't quite understand the concept of post-scarcity.  Certainly the labor involved in making something can never be truly zero, no matter how much of it you want to use.  There are even limits to the amount that we can use air without incurring costs to ourselves (See: Global Warming, Acid Rain).  There will always be scarcity, but with more effective economic planning (It doesn't matter who actually does the planning; However it needs to happen) to match production to need we can get close, one industry at a time.


-Josh

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#3 2013-07-10 11:51:44

Terraformer
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From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,363
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Re: How far to the abundance economy?

I consider a society to have reached post-scarcity when each person does not have to devote a sizeable fraction of their labour to fulfil their material needs, of shelter, food, energy, water and clothing, to such a standard that they will not be risking health problems from doing so. Theoretically, that could be done by a government rationing system, but governments have proven themselves to be inefficient and prone to corruption, as well as morally unsound, so I'm not in favour of that option.

Now, to do this my way will require access to the universal commons, i.e. internet access. I'm not saying that's a right - no-more than something like food is a right - but that doesn't stop it from being a good idea.

Specialisation may be more efficient (but quite possibly not), but so is centralisation, and not maintaining adequate reserves. It doesn't mean specialisation is a good idea. For a start, it's much less resilient, and it limits freedom, because you're now at the mercy at those who control the essential sections of the economy.

I don't mind having a high population density in certain areas, but that doesn't mean that you need areas of high population. The population density of a typical terraced house can get quite high - a rough calculation based on my own house is 80,000 per square kilometre. I have no objection to towns of 10-20 thousand people surrounded by automated farms and solar power plants, with each house having it's own vegetable garden and probably waste disposal system, and a lot of nature surrounding all that. But I personally think it's too big, and would prefer something with 1-2000 people.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#4 2013-07-10 14:08:25

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,915

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

Looking at the big picture I think you can certainly see that the era of big companies, big trade and division of labour is coming to a close.  We are moving towards a the "New Homestead" era where - with a little bit of help from professionals - we will be able to be self-sufficient. Energy is the most obvious one. Already lots of people supply a good proportion of energy to themselves from PV panels.  If LENR proves a viable energy source, then full domestic independence on energy supply will be realisable. LENR also holds out the prospect of transmutation of atoms - which will mean mining for certain rare minerals becomes a thing of the past..."mining" will become a tabletop affair.

3D printers clearly give rise to the ability to supply many of our domestic products at home...whether it be kitchen utensils, clothes or car parts or any other small scale item.

Robot controlled vehicles will mean we can make long distance trips without being dependent on trains or planes.  Cars/automobiles will be adapted more as mobile homes for long journeys.

I see no reason longer term why a large proportion of our food - particularly things like salad greens, fruit and beans cannot be grown at home in special hydroponic units. In addition the need for world food trade will decrease as intensive farming can take place in huge urban farm towers in perfect growing conditions, completely organic as well. 

We will be able to extract water direct from the atmosphere - the extraction of water from rivers and aquifers will seem like a rather primitive activity.

I wouldn't buy shares in the container ship industry!


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#5 2013-07-11 21:37:29

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
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Posts: 2,526
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Re: How far to the abundance economy?

^Content of post made irrelevant by reference to possible acceptance of Cold Fusion as anything other than a hoax.


-Josh

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#6 2013-07-12 06:13:38

louis
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From: UK
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Posts: 6,915

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

JoshNH4H wrote:

^Content of post made irrelevant by reference to possible acceptance of Cold Fusion as anything other than a hoax.

Four physics professors and engineers from two ancient seats of learning not good enough for you?

http://ecat.com/files/Indication-of-ano … device.pdf


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#7 2013-07-12 09:54:10

Terraformer
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From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
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Re: How far to the abundance economy?

10 Quirrell points from Josh for refusing to consider the possibility of something which hasn't yet been completely proven to be a hoax. It's unlikely, yes, very unlikely, but it hasn't been fully ruled out yet. 10 more Quirrell points deducted for using that as the pretext for disregarding the rest of the post, when the rest of the post was not contingent upon LENR being real.

Besides, Josh, as the moderator, should not attempt to engage in a discussion about LENR, since that would draw the conversation off topic.

Anyway, back to talking about material abundance. I think it's going to require a simplifying somewhat of the technology that we use - foregoing a lot of the fancy features on modern cars in exchange for being able to make the parts in a local FabLab. Though people may not need cars so much, if they're getting almost everything they need from a few miles around, using electric trikes if they don't want to walk or bike it. For longer distance travel, trains are a fairly simple technology, probably worth setting up dedicated machinery for producing rails. We'll probably already be using dedicated machines for producing copper and aluminium wire, because it's so useful, as well as for making electric motors and batteries, because some things are we're going to need. The machines themselves can be made in the FabLab.

As for food, I'm interested in the concept of an automated farming co-operative, where people would pool resources to set up and run an automatic farm, taking their share of the produce. If they've got more than they need, they can always give it away and spread the abundance.

Similar for housing. It would be nice to see more people getting together, buying some land and just building their houses and requisite infrastructure. Especially using wood and Compressed Earth Blocks, and trying to make each home as self-sufficient as possible without requiring much work. Housing is the single biggest cost of living today, followed by food, so together these two would be a major strike for abundance. I guess it would be a common interest development, sharing a FabLab at least, and probably a library and a high-bandwidth microwave link to the telecommunications backbone, connected to the mesh network of the town...

Though, a person or family could probably do both themselves. Automated homesteading!

I'm not certain that drawing water directly from the air will be efficient enough, even with cheap energy, although if night time temperatures get low enough, that might change. I'd prefer to locate it near natural water supplies. If we're using solar thermal (with Fresnel lenses?) to provide our energy, we'll have a lot of low grade heat to purify the water with, as well as condensed steam. With heat, we can pasteurise human waste.

Okay, so I've covered the big three, housing, food, and utilities. The people might have to get a job for a few hours each week to pay for clothing, toiletries (but we could probably make those too), and luxuries, but that isn't such a big problem. I don't mind working one day a week and spending another five in my home genetics lab, reading, writing, tinkering in the FabLab, flying...

The aim is, of course, to get everyone to the f*** you money stage.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#8 2013-07-12 10:48:57

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,915

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

louis wrote:
JoshNH4H wrote:

^Content of post made irrelevant by reference to possible acceptance of Cold Fusion as anything other than a hoax.

Four physics professors and engineers from two ancient seats of learning not good enough for you?

http://ecat.com/files/Indication-of-ano … device.pdf


And there is also this recent patent application from Finland. The inventor is an expert on atomic deposition previously employed as R&D director at Picosun.

http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicat … 78A2&KC=A2

This is an incredibly detailed application and has to be given some credence, given who is the inventor I think.

We also have this from NASA:

http://www.nyteknik.se/nyheter/energi_m … 384163.ece


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#9 2013-07-12 12:26:21

Terraformer
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From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,363
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Re: How far to the abundance economy?

louis, could you please post this in the appropriate thread? Or, to use some gratuitous latin, forum non conveniens... there is a more appropriate forum.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#10 2013-07-12 15:15:03

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,915

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

Terraformer wrote:

louis, could you please post this in the appropriate thread? Or, to use some gratuitous latin, forum non conveniens... there is a more appropriate forum.

Er - an abundant energy technology not relevant to an abundance economy?  You must be joking.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#11 2013-07-12 15:51:15

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,526
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Re: How far to the abundance economy?

louis, no.  [regarding post #6 in this topic]

Terraformer, you can never prove something to be a hoax to the satisfaction of conspiracy theorists, but I would say cold fusion is about as discredited as a thing can be, just like "Biblical Science"(="Intelligent Design") and Global Warming denialism.  I realize that there are a lot of people who choose to ignore facts, but I have better things to do than attempt rational discourse with irrational people.

I am a moderator, and also a poster; And in fact, I did not engage in any discussion of Cold Fusion (There's no need to euphemize among friends).  The new addition to my sig will perhaps clarify the difference between the two.  As you'd imagine, this forum requires an absolutely minimal amount of mod actions to keep running peaceably.  I tend to apply liberal concepts like the rule of law and freedom of speech to moderation, but the rule of law cuts both ways: There's no reason to be excessively harsh in enforcing things upon myself when they would otherwise be okay.

Regarding post-scarcity:  Your definitions of what would constitute post-scarcity seem to be arbitrary.  You define it as:

Terraformer wrote:

I consider a society to have reached post-scarcity when each person does not have to devote a sizeable fraction of their labour to fulfil their material needs, of shelter, food, energy, water and clothing, to such a standard that they will not be risking health problems from doing so.

What constitutes a health problem?  93% of live births in human history have led to deaths (source), so life itself is a severe and usually deadly health hazard.  What constitutes a material need of clothing?  In many climes in many seasons one could go naked and be none the worse.  Again, what is a material need for shelter?  Strictly speaking, one doesn't need to have a house or apartment.  Is everyone entitled to their own room?  If so, how big does it need to be?  What standard of comfort should they be able to expect?  Obviously, to some extent the answer is "Whatever they choose".  But the system has to be designed such that people are able to provide for themselves a certain level of comfort.

The notion of "post-scarcity" presumes that there are precise boundaries between "need", "want", and superfluous consumption.  I contend (with all of economics, both capitalist and socialist, behind me) that no matter how quickly the ability to produce grows, the desire to consume can grow faster.  "Needs", which long ago outpaced purely biological necessities for food and relatively clean water, will also grow quite quickly in an atmosphere of relative abundance.  Again, Internet and electricity are great examples of things that are not biological needs but are quickly becoming social ones.

I think that an annual growth of 5-10% in living standards for all is a better goal than an undefinable and physically untenable "post-scarcity" world; More relevant to the topic at hand, I think that post-scarcity is unlikely to materialize in favor of striving for this kind of advancement.

Also, given Terraformer's request that we argue LENR elsewhere, could you please bring up the topic in another thread if you wish to discuss it?

Yes, I have slapped myself on the wrist and said "Bad".  My apologies, Terraformer.

Admittedly, I have no interest in doing so, but arguing as to whether Cold Fusion is true or not is OT in the context of a post-scarcity economy.


-Josh

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#12 2013-07-12 17:00:58

louis
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From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,915

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

JoshNH4H wrote:

louis, no.  [regarding post #6 in this topic]Terraformer, you can never prove something to be a hoax to the satisfaction of conspiracy theorists, but I would say cold fusion is about as discredited as a thing can be, just like "Biblical Science"(="Intelligent Design") and Global Warming denialism.  I realize that there are a lot of people who choose to ignore facts, but I have better things to do than attempt rational discourse with irrational people.

I am a moderator, and also a poster; And in fact, I did not engage in any discussion of Cold Fusion (There's no need to euphemize among friends).  The new addition to my sig will perhaps clarify the difference between the two.  As you'd imagine, this forum requires an absolutely minimal amount of mod actions to keep running peaceably.  I tend to apply liberal concepts like the rule of law and freedom of speech to moderation, but the rule of law cuts both ways: There's no reason to be excessively harsh in enforcing things upon myself when they would otherwise be okay.

.

So you think four physics professors/engineers from Bologna University, senior figures in NASA and a respected atomic layer  deposition expert from Finland are all in on a cold fusion hoax?  That sounds like a conspiracy theory to me.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#13 2013-07-12 19:42:58

Terraformer
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From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,363
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Re: How far to the abundance economy?

"Head, meet desk. Face, meet palm."

I just know if people start discussing LENR/Cold Fusion in this thread, that is all that will be discussed and the original topic will be buried.

When I say post scarcity, I am referring to a state of affairs where the material needs of a person, as well as the the material necessities to meet the next few tiers of Maslow's hierarchy (for want of a better term; I mean things like access to the universal commons through the internet, and transportation to meet friends and relatives) can be met with a labour expenditure of only a couple of hours each day from said person, and where that is available for everyone. A civilisation where someone could live comfortably working 10 hours a week in a minimum wage job I would consider post-scarcity by that standard.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#14 2013-07-12 19:44:36

Terraformer
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From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,363
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Re: How far to the abundance economy?

Or another way of putting it, it is one where people are free to pursue their self-actualisation.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#15 2013-07-13 18:17:10

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,526
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Re: How far to the abundance economy?

louis, if you would please post objections to my stance on Cold Fusion elsewhere so as to keep the thread on-topic?  I would like to not have to ask again.

I will promise some attempt to address your arguments; admittedly with no expectation that either of us will change our position.

Terraformer,

Is Norway post-scarcity?  What about other states with significant welfare states?

You've qualified your definition down to

Terraformer wrote:

When I say post scarcity, I am referring to a state of affairs where the material needs of a person, as well as the the material necessities to meet the next few tiers of Maslow's hierarchy (for want of a better term; I mean things like access to the universal commons through the internet, and transportation to meet friends and relatives) can be met with a labour expenditure of only a couple of hours each day from said person, and where that is available for everyone. A civilisation where someone could live comfortably working 10 hours a week in a minimum wage job I would consider post-scarcity by that standard.

Or another way of putting it, it is one where people are free to pursue their self-actualisation.

Again, your definition is still vague; And beyond that, it is arbitrary and defined by plastic and ever-changing social norms (implicitly and explicitly).  How far away is it reasonable to have friends?  I would consider you to be my friend, but it certainly can't be expected that I would fly to the UK whenever the fancy struck me.

I calculate that a normal person would require $20,000 after tax per person per year to live decently (e.g., cover basic needs such as housing, a car, car insurance, health insurance, and various necessary living costs).  Working 10 hours per week, 50 weeks per year would result in 500 hours of work per person per year.  Accounting for disabilities, there are about 175 million employable Americans between the age of 18 and 65.  The total number of hours worked in America would therefore be 87.5 billion hours per year.  The average American worker worked 1,778 hours per year in 2010.  With about 140 million Americans currently employed, this results in a total of 249 billion hours per year worked.  This represents a 65% reduction in economic output and income.  In 2007, per capita income in the USA was $39,000.  35% of this is $13,650.  Therefore, we would need to increase worker productivity by 47% to enable a "post scarcity" economy as you define it, as well as completely level all incomes.  Well, then there are also taxes and the variety of necessary government programs.


-Josh

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#16 2013-07-13 19:38:57

Terraformer
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From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,363
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Re: How far to the abundance economy?

Taxes? Why would there be taxes in a post-scarcity civilisation, and government programs...? Leaving aside the moral issues, you're still going to be burning up massive amounts of resources by passing them through an unproductive government...

Again, you seem to be basing your assumptions on the modern economy, which doesn't work.

Try here - http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Cost_of_Living

Now, what about if we take out housing, food, and utilities from that list, because we've almost entirely automated their production? What if we also remove the car from that list, because we're using simpler cars which are easier to fix and which run on fuel/electricity that a person can produce themselves easily? What if, because we're talking about necessities, decide that we're not going to spend money on entertainment (besides, we can now watch free high quality films and series produced by people who suddenly have a lot more free time)? What if we don't have to pay for pensions and social security, because we don't need them? What if, even, a combination of much better medical AI, cheaper and improved medical technology, and more doctors, combined with a strong sense of civic duty, make at least basic healthcare freely available without any need for taxation?

Alas, I don't think you're going to be convinced until someone, possibly the guys at Factor e-Farm, have all their systems set up and are using their newfound leisure time to spread what they've got to other places, probably people in poor countries who don't have such hangups...


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#17 2013-07-14 22:36:06

JoshNH4H
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From: Pullman, WA
Registered: 2007-07-15
Posts: 2,526
Website

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

Terraformer wrote:

Taxes? Why would there be taxes in a post-scarcity civilisation, and government programs...? Leaving aside the moral issues, you're still going to be burning up massive amounts of resources by passing them through an unproductive government...

I'd imagine that you and I would agree that government doesn't go away just because it isn't needed.  I would add on top of that that there are likely things for which government will be useful, such as (to quote a rather well-known list of reasons) to "form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity".  Beyond that, government is great for building and maintaining certain infrastructures from which nobody benefits individually but everyone needs.  Things like internet hubs and the like.  Seeing as the notion of a post-scarcity, non materialist economy would also eliminate capitalism, some kind of larger-scale order would need to be established.  Whether you propose that it be voluntary or taxation-based, it will have to be funded through a reduction in physical expenditure on other things.

There is a lot of inefficiency in the modern economy, but my cost breakdown looks something like this:

  • Housing and Utilities (including internet): $800/mo [actual cost to me as a resident of Baltimore, MD, USA]= $9,600/year
    Food: $50/week [actual cost to me as a resident of Baltimore, MD, USA]=$2,650/year
    Gas: $100/mo [actual cost to me as a resident of Baltimore, MD, USA]=$1,200/year
    Health insurance: $50/mo [As a 19 year old single male college student located in Baltimore, MD, USA according to ehealthinsurance.com]=$600/year
    Other Health Care Costs: $100/mo [Guess; Assuming no major injury]=$1200/year
    Clothing: $500/year [guess]

    Subtotal: $15,750/year

    Contingency, retirement funds, education savings, leisure, all else: $4,250 [miserable underestimate]

    Total: $20,000/year

By the way, that rent buys me a second floor studio without much in the way of amenities or extra space.  This is not the budget of a person who lives excessively, or has much--if anything-- in the way of things not covered by your definition of "post-scarcity".  These expenses may not scale linearly with larger households, of course, especially not rent/utilities which is the largest by far.  How low can rent go?  One can only wonder.  But I can tell you that I'd rather spend $40,000/year on rent and live on Manhattan [realistic] than spend $4000/year on rent and live in East Bumbletown, Nowhere.  Perhaps living on Manhattan is a luxury, in this scenario, though.  (What if I'm from there and all my friends and family live within a ten block radius of each other?). 

Anyway, while corporate profits exaggerate prices somewhat, prices in a capitalist economy are largely a result of worker productivity.  There's no reason why it should cost any less, in terms of hours of human labor, to create things in a "post-scarcity" economy.  In fact, seeing as getting to $20,000/person*year while working 10 hours per week necessitates an effective increase in wages, the prices would be higher.  It would be helpful in this instance to convert to "hours" instead of dollars, but unfortunately our economy doesn't provide those numbers very well. 

Some people will be satisfied with "enough" (Though they may have to work 15-20 hours a week to have it), but most simply want more.  I like to think I'm not much of a materialist, but that studio in Manhattan is worth it to me over the house in East Bumbletown, even at ten times the price.


-Josh

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#18 2013-07-15 10:06:37

Terraformer
Member
From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,363
Website

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

Government won't go away because it's no longer needed, that is true. That is why we also need a revolution to get rid of it. We don't need them, and if most people realise this, it will collapse because they will levy a tax and no-one will pay it. I don't know what kind of infrastructures you're talking about - if the internet was created as it was supposed to be, as a resilient, decentralized network for routing information, it would grow as more people add their routers to it. In fact, the internet is a fine example of why government is *not* needed, being designed by a do-ocracy.

Again, you're bringing up a list of what things cost nowadays and working on that, which is a completely misguided way to do it. The lowest rent can go is, obviously, zero. Maybe if you want to live in Manhattan you'll have to pay for that, but that's your choice. Why live there when there's no longer anything special about the cities, though?


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#19 2013-07-15 16:04:21

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,915

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

Costs reflect the fact that labour goes into goods and services. Scarcity doesn't create cost. The fact that air gets thinner as you go up a mountain, doesn't mean it becomes more expensive - it's free at ground level and free on top of the mountain.

A true abundance economy won't come about until we have a fully robotised economy where robots make themselves and do all the key work in terms of manufacturing and providing services. I don't think that day is that far off. There will still be an issue over land monopoly. But the arrival of cheap space transport will undermine the power of earth based land monopolies as robots will be able to travel to asteroids and mine all the metals we need. Also, robots will be quite happy to work below ground in conditions that humans might find oppressive.


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#20 2013-07-18 13:36:04

TwinBeam
Banned
From: Chandler, AZ
Registered: 2004-01-14
Posts: 144

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

If you define down post-scarcity to mean "working 2 hours a day for basics" we're there now.

2hr x 365days x $7.25 = ~$5300.   A 2 bedroom apartment with electricity, adequate internet and phone, air/heat, water, trash/recycling/sewerage would come in around $20,000/yr, and could provide *adequate* space for 8 people, or ~$2500 per person, leaving ~$55/week.   BASIC food for a week (e.g. rice with flavoring, cooked by you) would be around $10.  Figure another $10 for misc basic consumables (TP, cleaning supplies, clothes, etc).  That leaves you $35/week or $1800/yr to buy books, games, better food, services, tools or other stuff to enjoy life without any additional economic activity.  Want more? Work more, or sell stuff you enjoy making - but you don't NEED to, to enjoy life.

*I* would consider significant post-scarcity to mean a lot higher standard than that. 

I'd describe it, in comparison to a typical modern life, as "enjoying a life that looks like a permanent weekend". 

Not going on a permanent cruise or owning an island.  But playing sports and eating well and engaging in a hobby and socializing, as a way of life.  The provision of material needs would be so automated that any attention I give that is on the order of only occasional and rather enjoyable chores - e.g. a weekly shopping trip to re-fill the food fabber, or doing a repair to my solar roof with a new panel printed on my neighbor's big workshop nanofactory.  Cleaning?  My robots do most of that.  It'd include a dozen modest trips a year, or choosing to instead save up for one or two 'big' vacations equivalent to what a hard working single person can afford today.

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#21 2013-07-18 19:38:19

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,915

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

TwinBeam wrote:

If you define down post-scarcity to mean "working 2 hours a day for basics" we're there now.

2hr x 365days x $7.25 = ~$5300.   A 2 bedroom apartment with electricity, adequate internet and phone, air/heat, water, trash/recycling/sewerage would come in around $20,000/yr, and could provide *adequate* space for 8 people, or ~$2500 per person, leaving ~$55/week.   BASIC food for a week (e.g. rice with flavoring, cooked by you) would be around $10.  Figure another $10 for misc basic consumables (TP, cleaning supplies, clothes, etc).  That leaves you $35/week or $1800/yr to buy books, games, better food, services, tools or other stuff to enjoy life without any additional economic activity.  Want more? Work more, or sell stuff you enjoy making - but you don't NEED to, to enjoy life.

*I* would consider significant post-scarcity to mean a lot higher standard than that. 

I'd describe it, in comparison to a typical modern life, as "enjoying a life that looks like a permanent weekend". 

Not going on a permanent cruise or owning an island.  But playing sports and eating well and engaging in a hobby and socializing, as a way of life.  The provision of material needs would be so automated that any attention I give that is on the order of only occasional and rather enjoyable chores - e.g. a weekly shopping trip to re-fill the food fabber, or doing a repair to my solar roof with a new panel printed on my neighbor's big workshop nanofactory.  Cleaning?  My robots do most of that.  It'd include a dozen modest trips a year, or choosing to instead save up for one or two 'big' vacations equivalent to what a hard working single person can afford today.


Yes, I would agree with the "permanent weekend" idea. That's how it would be for the mass of people. 

Of course, it would require a new system of socio-economic organisation.

One possibility might be we would join large scale co-operatives that would provide us with the basic goods but might demand some of our time - maybe say 50 days a year...Maybe we would work once  a week in a care home, or as a youth mentor, teaching assistant or similar...the jobs that will still require personal input.

But membership of the co-operative will guarantee the basics of life like transport and food.

We are a way off that yet but I don't think it is too far away when we have cheap space transport, transmutation technologies, cheap energy ( I won't say how since people get upset), robotised workforces in mines, factories, warehouses, shops and many offices as well (not so odd - insurance cos have been using robots for a while).


Let's Go to Mars...Google on: Fast Track to Mars blogspot.com

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#22 2013-07-19 09:57:29

Terraformer
Member
From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,363
Website

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

I don't think we're a way off that at all. We already have building co-ops, utilities co-ops, farming co-ops... just add in the automation and designs we're already capable of and we could slash the cost. Say, people subscribing to an automated farming co-op and receiving their share of the produce, joining a building co-op to construct their houses, forming a utilities co-op after finishing to provide utilities to their houses after finishing them...

I also don't see why we'd need teaching assistants. Unless you're talking about physical skills like operating a FabLab? Non-physical teaching like Maths, English or Computing I can see being automated, with everyone having their own ancilla (VI/AI) which will adapt to their learning style and construct a curriculum on the fly.

What happens, then, when you put a £20 computer that is about as capable as one costing £200 today, running a natural language ancilla which can respond to voice commands, into the hands of everyone in the world? It doesn't matter that they're illiterate; this child of Siri and Calo will teach them how to read and write their language, as well as putting the worlds information at their fingertips. Most scientists who have really changed the world have been white, and I don't think that's because white people are somehow special. How many Teslas, Faradays, Diracs have India, China, Africa etc got who aren't contributing to the global commons because they can't?

Getting to the abundance based economy is going to require a different system of organising, yes, but I think that different system is one of extreme decentralisation, distributism, co-operatives and communal FabLabs. I think Marx might have been on the right track with the idea that economies progress through stages, but he was wrong on what those stages were. When land is the primary foundation of the economy, you have feudalism, and those who own the most land are the elites. When it's capital, you have capitalism, and those who own the most capital are the elites. When it's information, though... well, those who own the most information are the elites, it's just that a) everyone holds the means of production for information, and b) information is a non-rivalrous good, which I guess makes everyone the elite.


"I guarantee you that at some point, everything's going to go south on you, and you're going to say, 'This is it, this is how I end.' Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work." - Mark Watney

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#23 2021-08-18 11:20:01

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,608

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

Since Terraformer was the one who invited me to join this forum, I am delighted to find this topic from 2013 ...

It is the ** only ** topic in the archive that shows up with the word "abundance" in the title, and that is the subject of this post, but from the Chinese point of view.

In another topic (Book on Oil) I am working the theme that atomic energy has the potential to provide an abundance of energy to the population of Earth, and I am proposing a target of 1 MW per person, to be managed either directly by the citizen, or through a system roughly equivalent of the US "trust" system, for those who are too young or two old to manage the asset directly.

Now comes the Chairman of the Communist Party of China, to define something similar for his nation:

https://www.yahoo.com/tech/m/b4aed215-7 … bleak.html


Xi Jinping just sent a bleak message to China’s super rich
Jane Li
Wed, August 18, 2021, 5:26 AM
Anyone with outsize wealth should expect to face more scrutiny as Beijing aims to create a society of "common prosperity."

Chances are ** very ** strong that China will reach the objective before the United States or any Western nation, because they have created (over thousands of years) a population trained to cooperate with leadership.

I caught an interview with a Chinese citizen recently, talking about a health issue .... she tossed off as a given that her country persons were "used to taking orders".

If the (almost totally) disorganized West would like to put up some competition, it will ** not ** be by anyone "taking orders".

An Alien looking at the situation would surely put the long money on China.

(th)

Last edited by tahanson43206 (2021-08-18 11:21:02)

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#24 2021-08-18 16:39:06

kbd512
Administrator
Registered: 2015-01-02
Posts: 4,711

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

tahanson43206,

Oh boy, let's see if we can name off some notworthy "firsts" that came out of communist China.

Assembly lines?... No.
Jet engines?... No.
Radios?... No.
Transistors?... No.
Microchips?... No.
GPS?... No.
Cellular telephones?... No.
Interplanetary rockets?... No.
Long duration interplanetary probes?... No.
Ion engines?... No.
Reusable rockets?... No.
Space suits?... No.
Electron microscopes?... No.
Lasers?... No.
Imaging infrared?... No.
MRI?... No.
Radar?... No.
Nuclear bombs or reactors?...  No.
Lunar landers?... No.
Long duration closed loop life support?... No.

Well then, what has come out of communist China?

Poverty.  There's definitely shortage of that over there.
Famine.  Due to their inability to make industrial farming equipment.
Genocide.  Against their own people.
Plague.  Cooked up in their bio labs by their genius scientists who then spread it to the rest of the world, knowingly or unknowingly- and they even had help with that from the west.

The Chinese did invent gunpowder, but then it took western scientists to show them (stupidly, IMO) how to make a solid rocket without a 50/50 chance of exploding before the motor finished firing.  I'm not too worried about them.  They've never done anything first that's particularly worthy of note, apart from COVID-19.  We have individual corporations that have contributed more inventions and more profound inventions to humanity than their entire nation has, for so long as the communists have been in charge.  They don't invent anything, because a society based upon conformity is not a society that values the creativity of its people.

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#25 2021-08-18 17:34:32

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,608

Re: How far to the abundance economy?

For kbd512 re #24

Thanks for an impressive list of achievements of Western civilization since the Enlightenment.

This post is reserved for anyone who might wish to compile a list of achievements of the people living in China over the past 3000 years or so.

One thing seems clear ... we would all be speaking Mandarin right now if it were not for the (to my way of thinking) fortunate decision of a Chinese emperor who decided to block the outreach that was well under way in the 15th Century.

The society began to turn inward, and fell prey to Western ghouls.

It is only in recent years they've recovered ground, and admittedly they still have a way to go.

However, they are not hindered by lack of understanding of how they got into trouble.

Their home grown computers hold the top tier performance positions on the planet, and their research into applications of AI (at great risk to everyone) are likely to yield performance improvements that will leave the rest of the world far behind.

The caveat there is whether they can control AI that functions at that level.

Thanks again for your robust defense of achievements by the West while China was knocked out cold by it's own foolish decisions.

*** Preliminary results:


https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/song-dynasty/

ANCIENT WORLDS Ancient Worlds
China's Age of Invention
Printing, paper money, porcelain, tea, restaurants, gunpowder, the compass—the number of things that Chinese of the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1280) gave to the world is mind-boggling. This vibrant period in Chinese history was marked by economic prosperity and remarkable technological innovation. In this interview, China expert Robin D. S. Yates, Professor of History and East Asian Studies at McGill University, describes this exceptional era and how it influenced the course of world history.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2000

From Google

History of crossbows - Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org › wiki › History_of_crossbows
Warring States[edit]. In terms of archaeological evidence, crossbow locks made of cast bronze have been found in China dating to around 650 BC. Terminology · China · Southeast Asia · Europe


(th)

Last edited by tahanson43206 (2021-08-18 17:46:16)

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