Re: Will there be time to Relax?

Robin Hanson (
Wed, 03 Nov 1999 10:26:23 -0500

Greg Burch responds to Aaron Davidson:
> > Will we really have time to enjoy life in the future? Or will we be
> > constantly struggling in an intense battle to keep up with the trajectory
> > of future change. ... Does anyone have a plan to both surf the wave of
> > advancement/self-improvement and still *enjoy* some of the other things
> > life has to offer?
>This is a SUPERB question, Aaron. As you say, there are lots of reasons to
>rush to develop transhuman technologies now and folks like Robin Hanson and
>Robert Bradbury make compelling cases for being involved on the cutting edge
>(the "fuhstest with the mostest" strategy). But I (for one) am with you in
>the desire to take the time to smell the roses along the way.

I don't think we can answer this question well until we better understand the evolutionary *function* of leisure. Leisure was something we evolved to like, and I don't buy the "conserve energy while waiting for something to happen" theory of leisure. Actual leisure is much more active than this. So it must have had a more active function in our ancestor's lives.

My current theory is that leisure is mainly about "bonding." By spending time with our social allies, we show that it is they who are our allies. Of course this isn't our conscious motivation; it doesn't have to be. I also hypothesize that social allies were relatively more valuable in times of plenty, giving us an evolved tendency to spend more time in leisure as we get richer. (This would also explain why we spend more on useless medicine, if it is a way to show we care. See or .ps)

So will the people who dominate the future be those who follow their evolutionary tendency to spend lots of time in leisure, or those who resist it to spend less time? Well, according to my theory that depends on the actual value of social bonding today relative to what we evolved to expect it to be. And damned if I know the answer to this.

Robin Hanson Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323