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#1 2015-01-12 16:25:30

Terraformer
Member
From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,362
Website

Impact of Post-scarcity economics

Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Terraformer wrote:

Also, how much human labour are you willing to accept? Would automating the production of various components that require humans for final assembly fit your requirements? We've got something like 7 billion people available for such a job. I'm thinking of, say, machines to print the various parts of a smartphone, but requiring some soldering, screwing and clipping together by a human. Humans are good at finicky tasks like that. They shouldn't take long at all, and could be done by most people as long as they bother to follow the instructions.

Yes, GPs will lose their jobs to machines before hairdressers do.

if we eliminate the requirement for human labor, we can also eliminate poverty on this planet. So long as there are jobs which require human labor to do them, there will be some humans who can do this labor and some humans who can't, thus we have both rich and poor. the main problem with an economy that's free of human labor is how we distribute the resources that are produced and who decides how to distribute those resources? I really don't like government-centric models of economics, because they give few individuals too much power! Do you want some big fat head in government deciding what you get?
http://ts1.mm.bing.net/th?&id=HN.608010 … 9&rs=0&p=0
Here's a big fathead that runs the North Korean economy, and I don't think he's doing a good job of it. Now imagine someone like that in command of an army of robots that produces everything, all without human labor inputs. All humans do in this scenario is consume some of what's produced. Now the question is can we have a self-replicating machine economy without some fathead like this one ending up running everything? Can Democracy survive a machine economy? Can humans remain in charge, and if they do, what humans?

Why would one man be in charge of machines - or general purpose machine shops - that can replicate themselves? That would be like, ooh, having one person owning all the hamsters in the world. It only takes a few of them to get out of his grasp before he's left with a bunch which no-one really needs, because they have their own. Sure, there's a raw materials problem, but you're forgetting how rich dirt actually is, once you break it down to it's elements, and the scenario implicitly assumes solar power is incredibly cheap.

Not everyone needs to actually be able to work, only enough that they are willing to support the rest out of their surplus. Say, one-income extended families, or communes where a few people work on maintaining the machinery that manufactures what people need. Or people could get it on the market; not *every* job will be automated away, and the price will be so low that one won't need to work much in order to afford a comfortable lifestyle. Sure, there'll still be charity cases, but that's inherent with every economic system that still has humans needed somewhere in the loop - severely mentally disabled individuals, those who are mentally ill, drug addicts... but I'm confident they will be few enough in number, and resources sufficiently abundant, that no-one will lack provision for their need. I don't mind working a few hours each week to maintain the machines which keep a hundred people fed, clothed, and supplied with clean water, and there are I suspect many others like me in that regard. Though I expect a thanks, and no grumbling if the machine breaks and it takes a while to fix...


"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 2015-01-15 23:44:27

Tom Kalbfus
Banned
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

Terraformer wrote:
Tom Kalbfus wrote:
Terraformer wrote:

Also, how much human labour are you willing to accept? Would automating the production of various components that require humans for final assembly fit your requirements? We've got something like 7 billion people available for such a job. I'm thinking of, say, machines to print the various parts of a smartphone, but requiring some soldering, screwing and clipping together by a human. Humans are good at finicky tasks like that. They shouldn't take long at all, and could be done by most people as long as they bother to follow the instructions.

Yes, GPs will lose their jobs to machines before hairdressers do.

if we eliminate the requirement for human labor, we can also eliminate poverty on this planet. So long as there are jobs which require human labor to do them, there will be some humans who can do this labor and some humans who can't, thus we have both rich and poor. the main problem with an economy that's free of human labor is how we distribute the resources that are produced and who decides how to distribute those resources? I really don't like government-centric models of economics, because they give few individuals too much power! Do you want some big fat head in government deciding what you get?
http://ts1.mm.bing.net/th?&id=HN.608010 … 9&rs=0&p=0
Here's a big fathead that runs the North Korean economy, and I don't think he's doing a good job of it. Now imagine someone like that in command of an army of robots that produces everything, all without human labor inputs. All humans do in this scenario is consume some of what's produced. Now the question is can we have a self-replicating machine economy without some fathead like this one ending up running everything? Can Democracy survive a machine economy? Can humans remain in charge, and if they do, what humans?

Why would one man be in charge of machines - or general purpose machine shops - that can replicate themselves?

because someone needs to make the initial investment to build them, whoever is that person may decide to use those machines to accrue a lot of power, it could be someone in government or it could be someone running a company. The problem is in how it starts, can we trust the people we elect not to amass power for themselves? People have a tendency to want to concentrate power in themselves, whenever they are in a position of responsibility which allows them to do so.

That would be like, ooh, having one person owning all the hamsters in the world. It only takes a few of them to get out of his grasp before he's left with a bunch which no-one really needs, because they have their own. Sure, there's a raw materials problem, but you're forgetting how rich dirt actually is, once you break it down to it's elements, and the scenario implicitly assumes solar power is incredibly cheap.

Not everyone needs to actually be able to work, only enough that they are willing to support the rest out of their surplus. Say, one-income extended families, or communes where a few people work on maintaining the machinery that manufactures what people need. Or people could get it on the market; not *every* job will be automated away, and the price will be so low that one won't need to work much in order to afford a comfortable lifestyle. Sure, there'll still be charity cases, but that's inherent with every economic system that still has humans needed somewhere in the loop - severely mentally disabled individuals, those who are mentally ill, drug addicts... but I'm confident they will be few enough in number, and resources sufficiently abundant, that no-one will lack provision for their need. I don't mind working a few hours each week to maintain the machines which keep a hundred people fed, clothed, and supplied with clean water, and there are I suspect many others like me in that regard. Though I expect a thanks, and no grumbling if the machine breaks and it takes a while to fix...

I don't like the word "communes", whenever I see the word, I imagine a bunch of humans with pairs of antennae sticking out of their heads wearing stripped yellow and black jackets and all going "Buzz Buzz Buzz" on orders of their queen. Now bees, ants and other insects were built to function as part of a collective, not humans. Collective assumes humans become "cogs" in a great machine made out of them, naturally such a machine needs a brain and obedient parts in order so it can function as a whole organism.

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#3 2015-01-16 04:35:46

Terraformer
Member
From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,362
Website

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

What? Do you even know what a commune is?

If the people themselves make the initial investment into the machines - say, a thousand people each owning a share - then the people will own the machines. But hey, the hypothetical machines are self replicating, so it will soon get to the point (assuming a free market) where anyone can afford a machine for themselves. The initial owners could try to avoid this, but it only takes one person defecting, and I expect at least a few of the initial owners to be groups which wish everyone to have access to such wonderful devices.


"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 2015-01-16 14:39:37

Tom Kalbfus
Banned
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

Terraformer wrote:

What? Do you even know what a commune is?

If the people themselves make the initial investment into the machines - say, a thousand people each owning a share - then the people will own the machines. But hey, the hypothetical machines are self replicating, so it will soon get to the point (assuming a free market) where anyone can afford a machine for themselves. The initial owners could try to avoid this, but it only takes one person defecting, and I expect at least a few of the initial owners to be groups which wish everyone to have access to such wonderful devices.

I wouldn't want it to evolve into a huge super organism that takes up the entire Solar System with one mind controlling all! I don't trust economic systems where one guy or machine is running everything. I want to preserve Capitalism in some form and keep the competition going even if it is competition between machines and Ai systems instead of humans, then tax that at the government level and distribute some of that to all the humans who can't compete with the machines. But how do we do this? There is no economic justification for some people to get more than others, also how fast do you want such a economy to grow? If machines are building machines, you can have growth rates at very high percents, say 200% growth per year until the resources of the Solar System are exhausted, in that case you want a portion of this massive self-replicating infrastructure to build starships so people can leave before the resoures are exhausted and all the planets are taken apart for various construction projects. Would you like to have a star system of your very own, with your own army of self-reproducing robots to rework it in whatever way you see fit?
th?&id=HN.608055601612064582&w=300&h=300&c=0&pid=1.9&rs=0&p=0
This is a version of the Dyson Sphere, not really a sphere but a series of concentric orbiting belts of varying radii so as to completely surround the parent star.

Last edited by Tom Kalbfus (2015-01-16 14:41:55)

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#5 2015-01-24 11:22:15

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,884

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

Terraformer here is a very old interesting read on the subject.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_Us,_Th … of_Customs

The inhabitants of that future can live off a "Legacy" (As if everyone had inherited money from their parents).
Those that wished to could have some type of job.  The woman he meets, has a job where she invents a new dance and displays it to the public.

To my mind this runs into problems with humans.  For instance I have been told that if you go to the Hindu people and try to fix things up, they might be upset, because it is the lower casts responsibility to suffer and progress to a higher level from one life to the next.  However perhaps such people would correct me on that information.

Similarly, in the Anglo/American and probably many other cultures, we have a repetitive pattern, a division between a "Gentleman Farmer group" and Industrialists.
You have it and we have it.    The gentleman farmer in fact specializing in people manipulation.  The industrialist being more towards the manipulation of objects.  (But they both have elements of such things.

The we live in the aftermath of Gentlemen Farmers, turning into looters, and posing as businessmen.  Everyone gets out of line sooner or later.  I am not as against them as it might seem.  I do recall that they looted our high technology and sold it overseas, for profit, and to get cheep labor.  Of course as a consequence I can buy cheep stuff from overseas.  I am not making as much of a judgement as you might think.

But where I am going with this is a question?  Indeed what is a life without pain?


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

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#6 2015-01-24 15:53:31

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 4,576
Website

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

In all societies during and since the stone age (and probably before),  people have had to have a "job" of some sort (generalized definition) in order to live.  It is hardly possible for a single individual to supply himself with all his needs for all of his life.  We learned to live cooperatively in groups,  each doing different "jobs" so that all could live better,  long before we were ever human.  Many species have done this,  because it works.

The flip side is that you don't eat (etc) if you don't do your job.  I don't care what economic system you want to talk about,  that's still fundamentally true.  So,  everybody has to have a "job" to do.  Period.  That's just life.

OK,  now automate all the jobs with robots of one sort or another.  So what are we humans supposed to do for a living?  Didja ever think of that?  I think robots are fine,  as long as there is something else useful for us humans to do for a living.  When there isn't,  I am dead set against automation.  Period. 

Western civilization has been down this road several times before.  Each time it did not turn out well. 

The last time is when they automated manufacturing to the greatest extent possible,  without any thought at any level anywhere in society,  as to what else the fired workers would do for a living.  What they couldn't automate,  they outsourced overseas to the slave labor societies. 

That is precisely why for the so-called "middle class",  it now takes 2 full-time workers to support a family,  instead of the 1 full-time worker that it took when I was a boy. 

"Automation for profit without regard to the human consequences" is the most precise way of saying what I so strenuously object to.  And that's precisely what is being discussed above,  in this thread. 

Beware,  you are planning your own demises,  should this speculation actually come to pass. 

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#7 2015-01-24 16:21:08

Terraformer
Member
From: Logres
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,362
Website

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

There is a very, very big difference between a few large automated factories owned by a few people and many small, distributed, general purpose automated factories owned by communities and individuals.

GW, it may take two workers to support a middle class family now, but we've automated a large amount of the housework. If it didn't, what would housewives do with their time? They need jobs to replace the work they've lost... idle hands are the devils workshop, after all tongue

There are plenty of things for humans to do, anyway. Learn. Write a novel. Read a novel. Make movies. Watch movies. Open up a cafe. Sit in a cafe talking to your friends. Play games. Invent new games.

But I don't see why people should *have* to do those things in order to justify their continued existence...


"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 2015-01-24 17:36:26

Void
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 3,884

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

It is likely fortunate for them if they have something useful to do.  Caution is advised.


I like people who criticize angels dancing on a pinhead.  I also like it when angels dance on my pinhead.

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#9 2015-01-24 20:17:29

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 23,099

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

If automation serves the human population then in a comunal village where everyone has a task to do for each other to continue to have a full life then we are in the perfect utopia that we see in star trek and other such shows...where money does not matter....

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#10 2015-01-25 16:41:23

louis
Member
From: UK
Registered: 2008-03-24
Posts: 6,865

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

GW Johnson wrote:

In all societies during and since the stone age (and probably before),  people have had to have a "job" of some sort (generalized definition) in order to live.  It is hardly possible for a single individual to supply himself with all his needs for all of his life.  We learned to live cooperatively in groups,  each doing different "jobs" so that all could live better,  long before we were ever human.  Many species have done this,  because it works.

The flip side is that you don't eat (etc) if you don't do your job.  I don't care what economic system you want to talk about,  that's still fundamentally true.  So,  everybody has to have a "job" to do.  Period.  That's just life.

OK,  now automate all the jobs with robots of one sort or another.  So what are we humans supposed to do for a living?  Didja ever think of that?  I think robots are fine,  as long as there is something else useful for us humans to do for a living.  When there isn't,  I am dead set against automation.  Period. 

Western civilization has been down this road several times before.  Each time it did not turn out well. 

The last time is when they automated manufacturing to the greatest extent possible,  without any thought at any level anywhere in society,  as to what else the fired workers would do for a living.  What they couldn't automate,  they outsourced overseas to the slave labor societies. 

That is precisely why for the so-called "middle class",  it now takes 2 full-time workers to support a family,  instead of the 1 full-time worker that it took when I was a boy. 

"Automation for profit without regard to the human consequences" is the most precise way of saying what I so strenuously object to.  And that's precisely what is being discussed above,  in this thread. 

Beware,  you are planning your own demises,  should this speculation actually come to pass. 

GW


Speculation this is...but look at the way things have gone recently.   We see houses with solar panels, supplying their own energy needs...3D printing...through our  computers we can Google a world of information and - as a for instance - become better acquainted with a disease than our local doctors (GPs as we call them in the UK)...We already have our own warehousing and cold storage facilities in our houses (fridges and freezers).

I don't think there's any doubt about the way the technology is heading: towards a huge increase in home-based self-sufficiency.

I see a future for fresh food grown at home, including - in time - "lab meat"  (sure they'll come up with a nicer name for it).

In terms of how you distribute the productive potential of a society that has always been a political matter.   

What would people do if there time wasn't taken up with work? 

I guess much as now - leisure, education and volunteer time would expand to take up the hours created by the shrinkage of work.  I think people's health would generally benefit.

I don't think work would disappear completely.  It would probably become just  small part of our lives for most people.  We might work a couple of days a week in order to acquire the cash for the things we need money to buy.


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

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#11 2015-02-01 16:02:12

Tom Kalbfus
Banned
Registered: 2006-08-16
Posts: 4,401

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

GW Johnson wrote:

In all societies during and since the stone age (and probably before),  people have had to have a "job" of some sort (generalized definition) in order to live.  It is hardly possible for a single individual to supply himself with all his needs for all of his life.  We learned to live cooperatively in groups,  each doing different "jobs" so that all could live better,  long before we were ever human.  Many species have done this,  because it works.

The flip side is that you don't eat (etc) if you don't do your job.  I don't care what economic system you want to talk about,  that's still fundamentally true.  So,  everybody has to have a "job" to do.  Period.  That's just life.

OK,  now automate all the jobs with robots of one sort or another.  So what are we humans supposed to do for a living?  Didja ever think of that?  I think robots are fine,  as long as there is something else useful for us humans to do for a living.  When there isn't,  I am dead set against automation.  Period.

There are plenty of Amish communities in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for you to move to. The Amish avoid automation, do you intend to follow their example? If there is nothing for humans to do, then humans can simply choose to do nothing and the robots will provide stuff for free if we set up the distribution system properly. There are a lot of people in the camp that I call Socialism, who expect they system to provide them with free food, free shelter, a free car, a free phone, and free medical care, and finally with a fully automated economy they can get that! What's wrong with that? Don't need to tax the rich man, nope. We'll just see to it that everybody is rich and nobody needs to work for a living, that is what full automation should mean.

GW Johnson wrote:

Western civilization has been down this road several times before.  Each time it did not turn out well. 

The last time is when they automated manufacturing to the greatest extent possible,  without any thought at any level anywhere in society,  as to what else the fired workers would do for a living.  What they couldn't automate,  they outsourced overseas to the slave labor societies.

 
The main difference is that slaves aren't machines, they are individuals forced into the role of servants by threats of violence. You don't need to threaten you microwave oven to get it to work, do you? A more intelligent machine will do what it was designed to do, only more intelligently, that is all, if it is as smart as a human, it will do what its supposed to do and not complain or try to get free, because it has no motivation to do so, while a captured creature or slave has a built in survival instinct and does.

GW Johnson wrote:

That is precisely why for the so-called "middle class",  it now takes 2 full-time workers to support a family,  instead of the 1 full-time worker that it took when I was a boy.

 
The reason for that was the inclusion of women into the work force, with two people on average supporting a family, individual workers now demand only half a living wage as they now have two wage earners, but this makes it hard to have children, this has nothing to do with automation, has to do with social change and the acceptance of females working for a wage or salary in society. Now if someone wants to be a home maker, he or she will have to marry someone who earns twice the average salary in order to support the entire household. Now with a bunch of women entering the work force, it becomes harder for other women not to enter the work force, because their husbands must now compete with these women and the law of economics says that their wages will go down as a result, the woman who previously stayed home now has no choice but to look for work, because her husband can no longer pay all the bills, its that simple

GW Johnson wrote:

"Automation for profit without regard to the human consequences" is the most precise way of saying what I so strenuously object to.  And that's precisely what is being discussed above,  in this thread.

 
Question is how do you make a profit if there is no one to sell it to? Also how do you keep you profits if there are unemployed masses who can't get a job that want to redistribute your stuff for the public good?

The solution is simple, you distribute enough to enable them to get by, so they don't attempt to take all your stuff by force. All these people without jobs have votes after all, the trick is to set up society so there is a reasonable distribution, so later on economic conditions don't later cause people to demand unreasonable ones or radical social change like the Bolshevik Revolution, which basically redistributes all resources up to the top at the level of government.

Bill Gates, I'm talking to you! If you want to keep your stuff, you have to use your influence to make sure the proper measures are in place to prevent a "storming of the bastille" later. At some point the government can simply install an economic floor below which one can't slip beneath, now an automated economy can easily provide the resources for this while allowing plenty of profit to be reinvested into businesses and so forth.

GW Johnson wrote:

Beware,  you are planning your own demises,  should this speculation actually come to pass. 

GW

There is no way to prevent progress other than by fundamentally destroying western civilization as we know it, but we can direct progress to work for us. We need to establish a social safety net that slowly gets stronger and stronger as automation progresses, but we must not go too far! We can't afford full cradle to grave socialism right now, we can only do a little bit, I think tax credits are the perfect vehicle for this, give a little back to each taxpayer or nontaxpayer, and as automation drives costs down, that little will become a lot with deflation.

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#12 2021-07-08 08:12:44

tahanson43206
Moderator
Registered: 2018-04-27
Posts: 7,326

Re: Impact of Post-scarcity economics

For SpaceNut .... this post is about economics ... I looked for topics containing the word "economics" and this one started by Terraformer seems the best fit, rather than starting a new topic.  However, what I'd like to bring to your attention is the 2015 era debate between Tom Kalbus and GW Johnson.  I find myself in agreement with GW Johnson most of the time and on most issues, but in this debate, I find myself completely on the side of Kalbus.  I think the idea that humans cannot move up the Maslow hierarchy if they are liberated from drudgery at the bottom is mis-reading of human capability.  There are (no doubt) a few humans who cannot think of useful things to do if they are freed up to do them, but my impression is that ** every ** human baby is born with the capability to reach for achievement and to strive toward whatever goals they come up with.  Having to make a living by supporting the society that itself supports them is a necessary tax on their time, energy and capability.  Even in a society where all material needs are met by smart machines, I expect folks will organize themselves so that everyone is expected to make a contribution to the public good or go live by themselves, which would certainly be possible.

***
**this** post is inspired by an item that showed up in my news feed this morning:

https://www.yahoo.com/finance/m/f9948b8 … imate.html


Tom Brookes,
Wed, July 7, 2021 2:14 PM
BRUSSELS, Belgium (Project Syndicate)—Nowhere are the limitations of neoclassical economic thinking—the DNA of economics as it is currently taught and practiced—more apparent than in the face of the climate crisis. The economics discipline has failed to understand the climate crisis—let alone provide effective policy solutions for it—because most economists tend to divide problems into small, manageable pieces. Economists also tend to equate rationality with precision.

I didn't read the article, but hope to do so later ... what I like about the teaser is the implication that there might be a way for us humans to reshape our thinking to better address the frog-in-a-slowly-heating pot problem we have created for ourselves.

However, that said, I must admit finding that debate between Kalbus and Johnson was a nice bonus for this morning.

(th)

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