Interesting stuff. A few probs:
"What we must hope, as the juggernaut of technological change rolls
onward, is that material incentives alone really are not more
important than other driving forces of the human spirit."
Taken a look around South Central lately? Liverpool, perhaps? In many
places, a quick high seems the driving force of the human spirit.
> "The steel tortoise gave MacKinnon a feeling of Crusoe-like
independence. It did not occur to him his chattel was the end product
of the cumulative effort and intelligent co-operation of hundreds of
thousands of men, living and dead."
Nor, indeed, will it occur to those who will be asked to contribute
to the support of the unemployable masses. They will refuse.
On 30 Jan 2001, at 15:36, Damien Broderick wrote:
> At 01:26 PM 29/01/01 -0600, Barbara Lamar wrote:
> >I've been looking at the guaranteed income from a new perspective since
> >reading Chapter 7 of THE SPIKE.
> >[..."]basic minimum dividend drawn from the productivity and wealth of the
> >--the problem with this is that society is made up of individuals.
> >Productivity and wealth don't appear unattached to human effort. In order
> >to "draw" them and make them available for distribution, one must first
> >take them from the individuals who produced them--this is the libertarian
> >argument, and it's valid, I think, to the extent that current distribution
> >of wealth reflects a morally justifiable process
> > In Chapter 7 of THE SPIKE Damien mentions, in passing, the concept of the
> >guaranteed income as an inheritance. ["...let's not look at a guaranteed
> >income as a 'natural right,' like the supposed innate rights to freedom of
> >speech and liberty. Rather it is an inheritance, something *owed* to all
> >the children of a society whose ancestors for generations have together
> >built, and purchased through the work of their minds and hands, the
> >resource base sustaining today's cornucopia."] I like this idea a lot
> Samantha, and plenty of others here, surely didn't like it one little bit.
> Here's a slab from THE SPIKE that amplifies this perspective a tad:
> The dividend of history
> The run up to the Spike will deepen today's dreadful problems, but also
> ease their solution, if we keep our nerve and use our brains.
> A corporation that downsizes its work-force today, in favour of robots, is
> surviving as a beneficiary of the human investment of the past. Its current
> productivity, after all, is the outcome of every erg of accumulated human
> effort that went into creating the economy and technological culture that
> made those robots possible.
> So let's not look at a guaranteed income as a `natural right', like the
> supposed innate rights to freedom of speech and liberty. Rather, it is an
> inheritance, something owed to all the children of a society whose
> ancestors for generations have together built, and purchased through the
> work of their minds and hands, the resource base sustaining today's
> Committed to the present structure of society--a prejudice doomed in any
> case, as we have seen, by the on-coming Spike--some people believe that
> most of their fellow humans won't work without an external goad. Others
> agree that incentives are required, but hold that these can spring from
> within, and need not depend upon the threat of hunger and destitution. In
> the short run, this debate can be avoided, for a guaranteed income would
> abolish severe poverty more effectively than current schemes that tend to
> act as a disincentive to taking up part-time work.
> And while a guaranteed wage would ensure you the bare necessities, your
> craving for luxuries and a higher standard of living would hardly
> disappear. Few of us now are content merely to earn a subsistence income.
> Those who are--the `shiftless scoundrels' who live their rudimentary life
> of ease on the dole in sunny climes--will continue to do so, but without
> costing society the extra burden of trying to hunt them down and punish
> them for refusing to take the jobs that don't exist.
> What we must hope, as the juggernaut of technological change rolls onward,
> is that material incentives alone really are not more important than other
> driving forces of the human spirit. The artist and the scientist are two
> celebrated instances of a deep human hunger and enthusiasm for creative
> activity, the kind that draws people together while being intensely
> rewarding to the individual. It's very likely, no doubt, that some arduous
> jobs traditionally the domain of depressed and excluded groups would find
> no takers if survival were no longer at stake. In wealthy nations like the
> United States, bordering less well-off countries, a constant influx of
> illegal migrants testifies to the reluctance of citizens with high
> expectations to do the sweaty work.
> Return to the village
> The impulse to automate such unpleasant activities, or design around them,
> is thus intensified. If nobody can be found to take the nasty jobs, the
> proportion of such unrewarding tasks delegated to machines will grow
> (thankfully) until people are free of them for good. And in many cases, we
> can expect that nano minting and AI systems will simply wipe many of the
> worst kinds of odious toil off the agenda forever.
> Hans Moravec puts it succinctly: `In the short run this threatens
> unemployment and panicked scrambles for new ways to earn a living. In the
> medium run, it is a wonderful opportunity to recapture the comfortable pace
> of a tribal village while retaining benefits of technological evolution. In
> the long run, it marks the end of the dominance of biological humans, and
> the beginning of the age of robots' (Robot, p. 131).
> The anthropologist Conrad Arensberg claimed that every successful adaptive
> innovation, social or biological, always has a further effect than the
> immediate and conservative: `the opening of a vast new door, a splendid
> serendipity'. It is impertinent and finally futile to try to anticipate
> serendipity, but it seems fair to assume that the adoption of a general
> right to a share in the inherited productivity of the human race will be
> liberating, more often than not, to the spirit.
> Pre-paid lunch
> Surprisingly, the laissez-faire writer Robert A. Heinlein placed that
> sentiment in the mouth of a utopian judge condemning a reckless rugged
> individualist: `From a social standpoint, your delusion makes you as mad as
> a March Hare.' But it was Heinlein himself, coiner of the libertarian
> slogan TANSTAAFL (`There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch'), who, as
> narrator, offered the most stinging commentary:
> "The steel tortoise gave MacKinnon a feeling of Crusoe-like independence.
> It did not occur to him his chattel was the end product of the cumulative
> effort and intelligent co-operation of hundreds of thousands of men, living
> and dead."
> Granted this perspective, how should we arrange our affairs during the
> disruptive decades ahead? The ways in which science and technology were
> (ab)used in the last century powered a catastrophic erosion of
> biodiversity, and in doing so damaged human communities as well. The global
> economy is still felling rain forests, polluting the skies and scything
> through the diversity of species. In the long run, in a world of televised
> fantasy living and virtual reality simulation--let alone the Spike's
> machine intelligence and nanotechnology--such traditional methods will be
> altogether unstable. Should we put an end, for the moment, to conspicuous
> consumption? Yet it is exactly the economy of relentless and often
> trivialised consumption that drives the technologies that will peak in the
> cornucopia of the Spike.
> Last time around on this topic, four years or so back, Robin Hanson as the
> house economist was highly skeptical of claims that a Guaranteed Income
> Floor would work in the boot-strapping manner alleged by Robert Theobald.
> Damien Broderick
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