Re: PHIL: The (im)moral state

den Otter (
Thu, 26 Mar 1998 00:32:01 +0100

Dan Fabulich <> wrote:

> Another strategy might be to just leave welfare in place until mind
> uploading and/or other immortalizing technologies become affordable to
> everyone (or at least subsidizable). That way, when we did finally shut
> down welfare, no one would die as a result.

Um, I don't think we'll ever see mass uploading (First Power doomsday
argument and all that) but maximal automatization could solve most
of the welfare-related problems. Basically, what people want and need
aren't jobs or even money but material goods like food, clothes and
housing (duh indeed ;-) I think we already have the technological means
to mass-produce these things at extremely low costs. Only a couple
of % of a modern state's citizens are farmers, and usually these produce
more food than necessary. So...automate even further and make the
basic stuff _totally free_, just hand it out to all who are needy. Just like
in ancient Rome. Hell, why not have a modern equivalent of the games
too? People could volunteer to fight eachother, and the winners would
be paid from the revenues of tickets, cable rights, merchandise etc.
This and state-run lotteries and the like could also help to subsidize
the free-stuff factories (it beats taxes), that aren't too expensive to begin
with due to the high degree of automatization.

Would a system like this crash because everybody would just sit on their
ass? I don't think so, because many people want more than just free
food and housing (non-essentials would still have to be bought). So
they'll work, and push society forwards. The others could sit home
(or at football matches or maybe even in mass-produced VR-machines)
and live a life relatively free of hunger and disease, with TV, VR and
dope to add to the happiness.

Later, with the advent of nanotech things would get easier still, but the
point is that it can be done with *today's* tools, if only we lose that
"the people must have work-meme". A nice side-effect of a system
like this would be quicker progress due to the stimulation of
cheap, reliable automated systems instead of artificially holding them
back to save obsolete jobs. Also, with most "dumb jobs" automated
the world would become more user friendly because machines never
strike or have a bad day, and require no handling-etiquette whatsoever.

> While this seems more appealing at first, keep in mind the costs of
> implementing this solution: unless/until we develop these technologies,
> EVERYONE is going to die, no matter how much they make annually. If
> anything, it seems we should take our foot off the brakes NOW so as to
> reach immortality as quickly as possible, if our goal is to minimize death.

Yes, we need immortality too of course, in fact, it's one of my top priorities.
Save for some 1000 people or so, the rest doesn't seem to agree however...