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In our future the robots will be doing all the work and
increasingly we will not have jobs and therefore no earned
One of the topical problems with this is that world
governments are increasingly going to have to be paying
people to be unemployed, which is psychologically
most jobs today are pointless, and exist mostly to
process the output of other peoples pointless jobs. This
equilibrium has value, keeping people earning a pay packet
to buy rent, food, phones, game consoles, televisions,
vehicles. This keeps the wheels of mass consumerism and
manufacturing turning, helping make each country look
Instead, why not have a national lottery which everyone is
in, and quite frequently wins. Thus, paying people to
simply exist should be accomplished unevenly (much like
the ownership of the robots that do all the work in the
future will be). That way, the stochastic handing out of
money to pay for the tail end of the consumer age wont be
quite so insulting.
Your job is pointless
[Ian Tindale, Jun 23 2015]
||In theory, a government could run a functioning, viable economy through running a number of lotteries, 419 scams and Ponzi schemes. Money would be collected and distributed in a pseudo-random way, taxes would be collected and money would flow around the system while robots get on with the real work.
||Isn't that how they do it now ?
||If one imagines industrialization as a roller coaster, we're
in the climbing part of the curve, and so we're whittling
down jobs, automating everything we used to not be able
to automate, and we're not nearly at the top -- self
driving cars are nearly here, but talk to me when fruits
and vegetables are being picked solely by robots.
||But then there's another part to the coaster ride, where
you're flying down at terrifying speeds -- we cannot truly
imagine those changes -- I would think you'd need more
than a lottery to figure that out. I would read (or
reread) Snow Crash and the Diamond Age -- I think that's
as good as any guess as to where's we're going.
||I dont doubt what you say, but as for the curve,
were quite a lot closer to the top than it seems.
Fruit picking by robot is not the main differentiator,
cheap unemployed humans can always do that.
Information economy jobs taken by expensive people
can be replaced by robot labour more economically
than cheaper unskilled labour, because paying all our
doctors, salespeople, broadcasters, reporters,
photographers, advertising creatives, chefs,
gardeners, teachers, lecturers, pilots, designers, etc.
is all quite expensive, so theyll be the second to go
(after the initial wave, a few decades ago, of factory
||The important thing to bear in mind is that the
recent recession has caused optimisations in economy
of many industries. Getting rid of deadwood job
occupations, job refactoring, etc, outsourcing, all
meant that during the recession, jobs could not be
found. Now were arguably on the way up again,
people are not so scared theyll never see money
again, but yet, the jobs are still thin on the ground.
Some employment action is returning, but not to the
scale it would have been expected before the
recession, if youd imagined a post-recession future
scenario back then. This is because during the
recession a lot of industries have had to optimise
their processes, or go bust, and now theyre still
optimised and running well, why go back to the
flabby wasteful way of before? A lot of jobs simply
wont return ever. This is what I mean about being
nearer the top of the curve than you think. The
robots dont have to be here yet, in our daily lives,
to have that effect. The jobs are gone, replaced by
no jobs, and the people are not in full time
employment. This will increasingly be the case, as
the robots actually do materialise in our daily lives.
||When we say robots, I honestly dont think itll be
in the form of humanoid form two arms, two legs,
one head for a variety of reasons. One: were very
general, but do we need general purpose robots? Why
not have specialised robots. Human form factor might
seem to be good for compatibility with us, but wed
hit the uncanny valley almost all the time if thats
the way we went. Robots could be any form factor
for tasks, deviating from evolution. Biological
development can only increment from what it had
before, it cant suddenly sprout an entirely new
novel mechanism from nowhere, nature only has
what it already has to fan-out from. We dont have
that restriction. We can imbue robots with anything
we can imagine and build.
||What I mean by a robot is not necessarily a machine,
either not necessarily a thing with arms, hands,
grippers, vision systems, whirring sounds, hydraulic
sounds, etc. What I mean by a robot is something
that can operate toward goals in a highly variable
high ambiguity situation, without much prior
knowledge of what is happening and will happen. It is
festooned with sensory input, even though we focus
(especially in fiction) on the actuating output. A
conventional machine (toaster, washing machine,
aircraft landing gear, escalator) is not that, it is
designed to actuate a task or set of tasks in a specific
scenario, with limited or no senses, so by design it
has a script if you like, but it is not a robot.
||//festooned// I am nominating "festooned" as word
of the week. More things should be festooned, by
||We used to festoon back in the day but now robots do
all the professional festooning, any festooning we
is just at the hobby level, same as programming or
||The economic relief-valve for robot-induced unemployment is surely the production of *positional* goods and (increasingly) services. Having other people do stuff for you is a positional good in a way that having robots do stuff can't be.
||That's not a good direction to be heading in - positional "goods" aren't really very good; but it doesn't imply, in itself, any catastrophic breakdown. I suppose, in that context, this idea might be quite good, making the background dystopia a bit more bearable - but not in so far as it diverted resources away from something more interesting, like exoplanet colonisation, which could generate non-positional goods.
||The trouble is, thats assuming that having a person
quaintly and expensively doing stuff for you instead
of your normal robots, is equivalent in quality. What
if the person, by now out of practice and not up to
speed, increasingly makes mistakes and errors in a
way that robot optimisation would trend away from?
Is that a desirable thing to signal? I suppose it might,
in the same way that flaws are an indication of
artisan, which is a rebelling against mass production.
||Also, what is there to indicate via positional goods?
Hardly anybody will be working, therefore hardly
anybody will be earning money, therefore hardly
anybody will be buying much. Maybe money will go
out of fashion.
||//positional *goods* aren't really very good// I'd only
half agree with that. On the one hand, I've sat in a
very expensive office chair which could be adjusted
in any one of six different ways, which meant that it
was virtually impossible to adjust it into a
comfortable position unless you were a helicopter
pilot. On the other hand, the electric seat in my jag
has a memory and positions itself wonderfully.
||It was just a supposition.
||I would suggest that handmade or luxury goods that
aren't equal to the quality of machine made are a
part of the solution to wealth inequality.
||If someone is rich enough that they'll spend an average
citizens monthly salary on a traditional hand forged
Katana (for instance), there is no reason why someone
shouldn't making their money on forging that katana.
Yes, a machined and oven tempered sword might be
more functional, but that's not why the rich buy it.
||And if a hand thrown mug doesn't last as long as a
machine made one, that's one more sale for the potter,
and one more bit of cachet for being able to afford a
complete set every time the old one breaks.
||But nobody will have jobs, and nobody will earn an
income. The amount of rich people who own the
means of production (the robots) really will be in
such a minority that you can count their effect as
noise. The people in general wont be able to count
on their wealth as a reliable source of income. In
other words, there might be a few exceedingly rich
people (and it really will be only a few), but for most
people, theres absolutely no way of benefiting from
their wealth no real way of getting at any of it by
offering some sort of value: products, tomfoolery or
jestering, or sex. Theres not enough of the people
with any wealth at all. Those that are wealthy
because they own the production and robots are not
going to be
wealthy for long, either, because nobody can buy
their products they have to be pretty much given
away or subsidised by national governments. What
will happen is a chasm between the ridiculously rich,
and the unbelievably poor, with a huge wide dead
quiet flat dry desert in between.
||[Ian] it doesn't matter if rich people own all the robots, because poor people don't need access to robots to survive and have a good quality of life. They do need access to land and resources, but rich people have monopolised those and charged extortionate rents for allowing access to them, for centuries, so this is not really a new problem.
||// I think in general innovation is drying up on the
consumer front, purely because its all been done.//
||Really? I would suggest the smart phone was a fairly
major innovation, and it's not that old. In the past two
decades or so, we've gone from having a limited supply of
knowledge available at the local books store or library to
having access to most of the world's knowledge through a
device I carry in my pocket. Prior to that, the last jump
of that magnitude happened in 1440 (when multiple
copies of books became readily available). Before that,
probably around 1000 BC, when a true alphabet was
||Technological change is definitely not slowing down.
||Self driving cars are just over the horizon, and will be a
huge step for consumers. It doesn't really class as
consumer, but there are some fairly innovative and
exciting medical treatments in research right now. And
no, I don't know what the next actual consumer
breakthrough will be (I like fully immersive video games,
but that one's been predicted for a couple of decades),
but someone is working on it right now.
||pocmloc,- That is true. Theres a lot of our robot
seems unprecedented but in reality has happened
before, or already, or has been the case since before
our generations. What is totally new to us, though, is
the impending sudden disappearance and supplanting
of the entire
middle class. Almost all of it. There wasnt much of a
bourgeoisie before the enlightenment anyway, but
now there is, and were about as used to this relative
equality, as much as were not used to serfdom
anymore. In effect, the reward of studious working at
an education and specialist achievement is about to
disappear. What incentive is there to do well and
improve if anything we can study at and make a
career of, can be replaced by tomorrows super-deep
versions of Siri and Cortana?
||// I think in general innovation is drying up on the
consumer front, purely
because its all been done//
||Things that haven't been done yet:
||(a) Almost anything to do with DNA. All we can do
so far is read it (with very
||(b) Almost anything to do with computers. All we
can make them do is what
we already know how to do (with very trivial
||(c) Almost anything to do with transport. We can
only travel in two
dimensions, with the exception of a few experts
with huge resources, and we
can only travel slowly.
||(d) Almost anything to do with engineering. We
can only work with
homogeneous, unstructured materials with the
exception of very simple things
like fibre composites and found materials like
wood and rope.
||(e) Almost anything to do with medicine. We can
barely treat the simplest
diseases, and have yet to take the first steps in
dealing with ageing.
||(f) Almost anything to do with food. We still use
whatever ingredients nature
has furnished us with, (with some trivial
||(g) Almost anything to do with Milton Keynes. We
have only theories as to
why it exists, and nobody understands its topology.
||So, plenty of room for growth left in these shoes.
||Oh, talking about (d), the more I think about it these
days, the more I realise that although paper is an
ancient invention, its probably underlies where a lot
of our future innovation is, too.
||I dont know, I think Im still regarded as a tool.
||(a) Once we can actually do something with DNA
instead of just looking at it, we have a
generalizable cancer therapy; a retroviral therapy;
viable gene therapy; preventative genomics (for
example, preventing Alzheimer's); and ultimately
consumer and cosmetic genomics.
||(b) It's not garbage in. Show a computer a Monet
and it will have the same response as if you show
it a Macdonald's wrapper.
||(c) //Personal aviation for a budget is just not
going to happen.// Of course it is, silly. Just not
for some time.
||(d) //Our best bet in the last decade is composite
laminates used in aircraft// Very primitive.
||(e) //If you remove all reason for living, why
would people want extended life ?// Quite so.
And if you remove my fingers I won't want a piano.
||(g) recent evidence suggests that it was left over
from Wales, when the the planets formed and began
their continental drifting (which will probably
transpire to be an Extremely Low Frequency and I do
mean ridiculously unbelievably low frequency hidden
message) (for which wed need to build an