Re: A Challenge To All Extropians/Free Martketeers

Paul Hughes (
Wed, 29 Apr 1998 19:02:33 -0700

Michael Lorrey wrote:

> Paul Hughes wrote:
> > 1) Is there a single field which is intrinsically safe from automation
> > in the course of the next 20-30 years? If you can think of more fields,
> > please elaborate.

All of the fields you mentioned below make up less than 5% of the populace.
Even if you were correct, it still would leave the remaining 95% unemployed.
But even still, most of the jobs you mention can or already are becoming

> a: Jerry Springer Show guests ;)

Can't argue with this one! :-)

> b: writers

This is debatable. I once read a rather interesting but somewhat incoherent
story, which I later found out was created by a computer program running on a
486. I have a friend who is working on interactive fiction software at Carnegie
Mellon. As computer power increases and interactive heuristics improve, more
and more people will be reading and playing in complex fictional environments
without the need of an author.

> c: artists

See above. Although anyone can always contribute in this area. We need all the
art we can get.

> d: scientific researchers

A lot of things that were called science several decades ago are now completely
automated with advance computer software. With increasing power and software
sophistication, software inches closer to becoming our collaborators rather than
just our tools. According to Hans Moravec, human-level AI will be reached in
the 20-30 year timeframe. At such a point, super-AI could exceed humans in
almost any scientific enterprise.

> e: explorers

Much of this is already automated. Orbital reconasaince satellites, underwater
rovers, and most especially robotic space probes. Despite the fact that 'I'
want to go to space, it is much cheaper to send a robot to explore the deep
reaches than to send a human.

> f: colonizers

Since when is moving to a new location a job?

> g: politicians

hehehe. And you call yourself an extropian - shame on you! :-)

Politicians are the most easily automated of all. If we have ubiquitous
internet access, everyone can vote as much or as little as they like, depending
on how important a specific issue is to them. Electronic voting heralds a move
from representational to participatory democracy.

> h: lawyers

Most lawyers are contract lawyers of one kind or another. Contract *law*
becomes superfluous when you can circumvent the need for such laws with Smart
Contracts. The advent of smart contracts (see will render the majority of
lawyers useless. Who needs a lawyer when you can use cryptography and digital
reputations for secure transactions?

> i: plaintiffs

see above.

> j: teachers

Most people I know learn more on their own than from most teachers. As the
internet becomes more pervasive, anyone and everyone becomes a potential

> k: strippers

Virtual Reality is catching up quick. Before too long, prostitutes will become
an expensive alternative to sophisticated teledildonics.

> l: robot maintenance

Yes, for a while at least.

> > 2) Are these remaining fields if any, sufficient to employ the majority
> > of humanity? If not, what will the rest of humanity do in order to
> > survive?
> have fun? explore new worlds? maintain the machines?

This assumes that they already have the means to survive. You cant have fun if
your dead. From where will they get their income?

> > 3) For those who are unemployed and do not have sufficient investment
> > income, is death the inevitable result? If not, how will they survive?
> considering that the more free and capitalistic a society is, the more it
> tends to privately fund charitable organizations, and recruit volunteers for
> charitable organizaitons, then a future economy should free people up to
> help improve the lives of others through volunteer organizations. I think
> that education will be the great growth industry along with mind network
> interfacing.

I hope your right here. :-)

> you have no idea, nor do I of the sort of economic trends that have yet to
> even start, but will be branched off from the technologies we can currently
> conceptualize. It is too soon to tell. However, based on past history, I am
> rather optimistic.

Your right, I have no idea. That's why I was hoping some of the more
economically adept could enlighten me as to how the transition to a fully
automated economy would not render the majority of the workforce obsolete
without them having a means to continue prospering.

Thanks Michael for a very entertaining post! :-)