Re: A Challenge To All Extropians

J. R. Molloy (
Sat, 2 May 1998 11:19:17 -0700

From: GBurch1 <>
>Likewise, the counter at McDonalds
might be more efficient if
>I entered my order directly into a
keypad and had my food handed to me by a
>robot, but I don't doubt that the live
human face across the counter is seen
>as a value by the operator of the

Very true, no doubt. Additionally, a
robot that could perform such tasks as
handled by counter help would presently
cost more than the rest of the McDonalds
real estate and equipment.

However, if and when the time comes that
a robot counter person costs not much
more than a flesh and blood version, we
may be as surprised by the popularity of
such an arrangement as the business
world was surprised by the number of
people who wanted personal computers
fifteen years ago. Personally, I would
trust a robot fast-food handler over a
human one, and would enjoy the novelty
even more than I enjoy McDonald's
carcinogenic food fare.

>Thus, simply because it will be a
luxury of sorts, having humans do jobs
>robots COULD do will likely become a
significant factor in employing many
>people who otherwise might become
"disemployed". Such jobs won't be the
>desirable ones and, with a few
exceptions I can imagine, probably won't
>very well. (The exceptions are
interesting, though -- I recall how
amazed I
>was to learn how much money waiters
make in the most prestigious
>more than $100,000 per year. Such jobs
are admittedly rare.)

Computer programmers make about half
that much. So much for the idea of
"creating a society that does not need
its less qualified members" as someone
mentioned earlier.

Much depends on how you define
"qualified." A simi-literate air-head
can still win a beauty contest and get a
role on Baywatch. Don't expect that to
change a great deal in the post-human
era. Except that simi-literate air-heads
may get replaced by latex, silicon, and
steel gynoids of the robotic kind.
Remember Heidi the hooker madame? She
made millions providing the flesh factor
to men with a weakness for that
particular product.

So, in answer to Paul's question:

"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."

Answer: yes -- no need to elaborate.

"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

Answer: Of course not. Get some career
training. Don't wait. Do it now.
"Publish or perish."

"3) For those who are unemployed and do
not have sufficient investment
income, is death the inevitable result?
If not, how will they survive?"

Answer: Death has been the inevitable
result of being alive since life began.
But perhaps life has no beginning and no
end. In which case, no one has anything
of real substance to worry about. Those
who choose to remain ignorant of the
value of extropian perspectives, bring a
certain amount of inconvenience into
their lives. Anti-extropians may find it
difficult to provide evidence that they
deserve to survive. Socialism sucks. You
don't produce | you don't eat. We can't
reach the stars by planning vacations
for socialistic slackers.

"4) Will most people alive today be able
to save enough before their jobs
become automated?"

Answer: *Most* people alive today don't
have the smarts to pull their craniums
out of their anal crevices. Of course
this question implies that another
socialistic big government project is
needed to provide for the incompetent
and inconsiderate who fail to keep up
with what humanity urgently needs,
namely a system based on ability,
competence, and merit. Extropianism, in
my view, diametrically opposes
socialistic schemes. Extropy has no use
for welfare queens and other dead wood.
"Keep your eyes on the prize," and let
the chips fall where they may. (Long
live euthanasia. Support Dr. Kavorkian
and access to assisted suicide.)

"5) If how much money one has saved is
the the key to surviving
automation, does this not portend very
badly for young people who have
had less time to save for their forced
retirement? If this is true,
does this mean that the future is going
to be populated almost entirely
of rich and old people and their

"Surviving automation"? How about
enjoying the benefits of automation?
Many things portend badly for young
people. Especially the prospect of
socialistic bullies who want to force
young people to work and pay 70% income
tax in twenty years in order to support
the bloated bureaucracy of entitlements.
No one who values extropian principles
advocates forcing anyone into
retirement. Rather, we recommend that
people have the freedom to provide for
their own needs in whatever ways they
can invent. Today's youth does not owe
government a living any more than
corporations owe today's youth a living.

A future "populated almost entirely by
rich and old people and their children"
sounds rather utopian to me. I wouldn't
mind being rich. I suppose I will get
old. I have no immediate plans to have
children, but I enjoy their company for
the most part. Gee whiz, Paul, it sure
makes me happy to think that you won't
do too much to stand in the way of such
an idyllic future.

>Another factor I have seen mentioned
here is the trend toward making
>commodities that were once dear
essentially free "give-aways"; examples
>matches and water were discussed. I
can see food eventually falling into
>category, as well as even --possibly --
shelter. Perhaps resorts would offer
>princely accommodations to their
workers to encourage "qualified" people
>work in their service jobs. Such
qualifications might consist of
>and physical characteristics, rather
than intelligence or "productive"
>capacity per se. Thus good looks or a
pleasant personality might be much more
>worthwhile assets than they are today.
Perhaps only the ugly, rude AND stupid
>will need some kind of dole in a truly
post-industrial world.

Or perhaps those in the latter category
will simply continue to join N.O.W. to
lobby for even more special privileges
at the expense of competent workers. As
for making commodities free, perhaps
some enterprising city dweller might opt
to provide free fresh air, in exchange
for (what?). Actually, water used to be
completely free for everyone who knew
how to locate a spring, stream, river or
lake. I remember reading that Benjamin
Franklin had preferred to save money by
dining on a half penny loaf of bread and
some stream water for lunch in Boston
(before the water became too polluted to

>Examples such as this one tend to make
me less than catastrophically worried
>about total "disemployment" for the
great mass of humanity. Any techno-
>economic system that would make even
"trivial" service jobs completely
>irrelevant seems likely to be so
productive that the whole problem

Right on. We have more worrisome things
to consider than disemployment. The
North Koreans are rumored to have more
weapons of mass destruction than they
have food. But disemployment has the
potential of converting formerly
productive workers into glass-bead-game
players with no appreciation for the
goals and objectives of such
vocationally aroused people as (for
instance) extropians. So the problem
relates less to what to do with
disemployed, less qualified members of
society, and more to keeping these folks
from organizing against the aims of

>In the transitional period, it seems
likely that the majority of humanity
>continue to do what they do now --
subsistence agriculture. The largest
>of humanity really isn't even in the
20th century yet, technologically. At
>the point that the first few humans/AIs
experience real "technotranscendance",
>the largest part of humanity will be
"irrelevant" to that process. But this
>says nothing of what those first
post-humans will do FOR those left
behind. I
>find much of the discussion about fears
of what posthumans may do TO the
>"left-behinds" implausible; it seems
much more likely that the super-
>productive powers of posthumans will be
employed in what amounts to
>philanthropic "uplift": The
"extrosattva" of discussions we had here
a few
>months ago.

As a potential post-human, I might dare
to ask what those left behind had done
for the cause of technotranscendence. We
(i.e., I) often hear complaints that
science and R&D don't do much for the
poor and less qualified members of
society. Well, let's turn it around for
once. What have the poor and less
qualified done for the advancement of
science and technology lately? As one of
the poorest people in the US, with an
income embarrassingly below the official
poverty level, I feel fully qualified to
ask this question. I appreciate what
science has done for humanity, and I
take the opportunity to express my
gratitude whenever I can.

Humanity needs extropy more than extropy
needs humanity.



"The streets are safe in
Philadelphia. It's only the people who
make them unsafe."
--Frank Rizzo, ex-police chief and mayor
of Philadelphia