(with inspiration from the brilliant Robert Anton Wilson)
Add the next term to the series:
- ride horseback
- fly by jet
A certain job can be performed either by a human or a machine. We should
- Employ the human because “the devil makes work for idle hands.”
- Employ the human because otherwise he or she might be bored
- Employ the human because there is no way to organize society except by having most people work for wages
- Employ the machine because technology has no function other than to free people from toil.
Add the next term to the series:
- hunt and gather
There is a magic machine with two buttons, each of which will create equality among humans. You will push
- the button that makes everybody equally poor
- the button that makes everybody equally rich
Working for wages
- Has always existed and always will exist
- Is ordained by God
- Did not appear on large scale until the Enclosure Acts drove the serfs off the land in the past 300 years
- Will become obsolete in the next 100 years
- Will become obsolete in the next 10 years
The best way to search for Higher Intelligence is to
- Find the right religion
- Support the search for radio signals from advanced civilizations in the galaxy;
- Investigate UFO’s
- Research our own nervous system
- Build a starship and go looking.
Add the next term to the series:
- Black Pride
- Women’s Liberation
- Gay Pride
There has never been a Chinese government that didn’t despise individuality and behave with monstrous cruelty. There has never been one that appeared to even recognize cruelty except to want more. Utterly callous and indifferent is only when they aren’t trying. China is a bloodthirsty, heartless oligarchy with an unslakable thirst for absolute social control that keeps them up nights worrying that they’ve missed somebody.
All credit to the makers.
Carl Sagan can still bring tears to my eyes.
or: Deconstructing this strange, stupid moment
Have you noticed that humanity seems to have gotten into the bad acid? Or that reality isn’t itself lately? Traditional limits to weirdness have been breached and allowed just about anything to happen. If our recent political history was a spy novel would you keep reading it? Or throw it in the trash for being provokingly unrealistic? Trash, am I right?
You’ll be relieved to know I have a theory.
One of the things I ramble on about here is the idea that the human race is technologically self-mutating. It’s part of our script to wrangle and then embrace new technology and rather than using it to perfect our old lifestyle, we let it alter us and transform that lifestyle. Throughout our time on earth, this pattern has changed us sometimes in hardly noticeable increments, and sometimes with disorienting speed. While the core of human nature remains constant through history every big technology shift distorts our current culture and creates unexpected “new normals”. These new normals cause stress and static as we try to sort out what the hell is happening to us and how to retain the good part of the new tech without losing the good of the culture. Since we are in constant flux there is no pure version of ourselves to return to or protect. Many of the normal things we grew up with were new normals to our parents or grandparents. We typically only embrace technology that gives us something we want and then we suffer and struggle over the weird “Goeswiths” we didn’t anticipate. It’s significant that there is no historical example of us adapting to powerful new technology, disliking its effect on our culture and dropping it to resume the old ways. Our way ratchets forward and locks; no take backs. The bad side effects only go away when some still newer technology dissolves them.
Cars redefined teenage freedom and liberated our sexuality. They changed socializing and working and vacations. They changed the layout of every towns and city. The economics of cars created enormous corporations and a unionized middle class. Year in and out, cars kill ~40000 Americans and it appears we’re basically all OK with that. Technology is never just technology. Technology is new organs and altered cultures and unexpected results. Sufficient technological change equals a different species. Continue reading
Manufacturing jobs are gone. The only way they could come back is if American workers volunteered to get paid .25/hour.
- When taxi/limo drivers are gone (Uber already has this as a realistic goal)
- and truck drivers are gone, (every trucking company is testing long haul robots right now)
- and cashiers are gone. (via the Amazon Go style technology)
How will the rich continue to get richer?
There are SO many bad outcomes possible from this. The collapse of these jobs won’t occur in a vacuum, it will take most of the economy down with it. All those out of work people won’t go out to eat, or buy new clothes. They won’t buy much of anything. This takes out most of the local economies and big chains will see a steep drop in earnings.
There are other aftershocks: Most likely none of these folks will have health insurance and they may very well turn right wing fascist politically because that’s pretty standard is collapsing economies. Maybe they’ll open leftward but history shows that as less likely.
Since people are complete shit at imagining and preparing for future problems and will even perversely struggle against such preparations (*cough* cough* climate change) I think as many of us as possible should be raising this issue. But that won’t help much because because politicians are largely paid to safeguard the status of the super rich. If it comes to a political fight we’ll just be locked down and silenced. Unless we frame it correctly.
Who will be the biggest victims of such a collapse? The rich! Poor people have nothing, what’s a little more nothing to them? But the people who have nearly everything and whose only wish is for the rest of it as well, suffer deeply at even flattening profit margins.
It’s true. When the jelly handed 99% stop paying for things, your personal ultra zeppelin will begin losing altitude and when you finally land do you know who’ll be waiting to greet you? Correct, the ravening mob.
The only way for the rich to maintain a semblance of untouchable, lofty superiority is to support a guaranteed basic income. And unless they want to tumble down a financial sinkhole for several years first they better get on it now. This won’t be easy, it will involve acts that superficially resemble caring about people and being generous.
Please, help support the rich in the post employment age.
Many writers on socio-economic policy have warned that the old industrialized democracies are heading into a Weimar-like period, one in which populist movements are likely to overturn constitutional governments. Edward Luttwak, for example, has suggested that fascism may be the American future. The point of his book The Endangered American Dream is that members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out. For once a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen. In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly over optimistic.
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words “nigger” and “kike” will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.
But such a renewal of sadism will not alter the effects of selfishness. For after my imagined strongman takes charge, he will quickly make his peace with the international super-rich, just as Hitler made his with the German industrialists. He will invoke the glorious memory of the Gulf War to provoke military adventures which will generate short-term prosperity. He will be a disaster for the country and the world. People will wonder why there was so little resistance to his evitable rise. Where, they will ask, was the American Left? Why was it only rightists like Buchanan who spoke to the workers about the consequences of globalization? Why could not the Left channel the mounting rage of the newly dispossessed?
– Richard Rorty “Achieving Our Country,” written in 1998
Self driving trucks are being tested and refined as a technology and are already understood to safer and less expensive than human drivers: They’re coming in the near term. Self driving trucks are inevitable.
Now, look at this image of the most common jobs by state and consider the implications. I’m not against this change, but our political leaders still believe that wealth forms as magical dewdrops on the bodies of the 1% before cascading as a god ordained blessing onto the far less important people down below.
We have no plan for the unavoidable, transformed near-term future. Worse yet, America has a cold, cold heart towards the poor and unemployed. Worse yet, unemployed lower middle class guys like these soon to be former truckers vote for pseudo-fascist idiots like Trump.
The problem with the rich is that they believe their own stories about where money comes from. When an unemployed American stops sending money to insurance, medical care, internet providers, etc, and stops buying nearly as many products of all kinds there is a tiny disturbance in the force for the 1%. Multiply that times all these truckers, and you have way less income for the rich. Where is your trickle down now, assholes?
It is time for common sense Human Ethology. We need to start learning more about ourselves as a species and develop an understanding of our ways and our place in nature. We need it to navigate the path ahead. Many people are frightened and offended by any serious discussion of it but it’s time for us to have a little “facts of life” talk. If a disease is misdiagnosed, the prescription won’t help: If you don’t understand the machine your hand is caught in how can you escape? A great deal is riding on us. And we begin, in the dark.
I suspect that our minds contain a built in blind spot against recognizing ourselves in this light.
Imagine being a bird in one of those huge dark clouds of starlings swarming; our perspective is constantly eyes forward, keeping up, and so involved in doing that we don’t look around and say: “What are we doing?” Henri Bergson, an early 20th century neurologist believed that the brain had as much to do with limiting and filtering out reality as with perceiving and understanding it.
It’s understandable for many good reasons. First, your dominant preoccupation here on earth is SUPPOSED to be your own life. If you aren’t going to mind that store, who will? It must be contra-survival for any creature to spend its time marveling at another level of existence, I know it is for ME. And many people are disturbed by the notion that they really are an animal and that some of their own motivations are unconscious. And when you place that animal that they are in the context of a huge hive where they are a speck in the background it’s understandable that it seems disturbing and diminishing. But you could make the case that seeing the larger story and blending it with your own reveals something stunning and elegant. The foreground AND the background. The story of our life as hive animals is not the truer story, it is simply a different true story at a different factor of magnification. We exist at several levels as radically different things.
From one perspective each of us is a gigantic amalgam of self organizing cells and microbes who go about their business with no idea how unhappy we are in our current job and how much we love cake and have always wanted to learn the cello. One level up from the bits and pieces that make us up, we are recognizably ourselves, the HUB: The eyes and ears of the universe. But one more level up and we are the “tiny” self organizing cells of a system that generally speaking, we have no conception of. What are we even doing? Continue reading
Some humans can live as wild and solitary as tigers. Humans can live as isolated families miles from their neighbors. They can live in tribes, villages, clan groups, small towns, cities and mega-cities. Humans are not infinitely adaptable but they are capable of many different modes of existence. It’s well known that these different life styles operate under different rules. Neighborliness and charity for example, are different things when surrounded by ten, ten thousand or ten million people.