IEET > Rights > HealthLongevity > Economic > GlobalDemocracySecurity > Vision > Staff > J. Hughes > Futurism > Technoprogressivism
Some Brief Thoughts on How to Ensure a Good Future
J. Hughes   Jul 5, 2011   Ethical Technology  

When Phil Bowermaster asked for some pithy thoughts about how to prepare for one of the Next Big Future Things coming down the pike, I suddenly sounded like a frothing street-corner Ranter.

So I thought I’d share some of my (recently too infrequently voiced) thoughts on What Is To Be Done?

% of US employed

Phil asked: If you were to pick just one current or coming transformation that you would advise people to focus on, which one would that be?

I believe the emerging technological impact that has received far too little attention, and which is already having wrenching effects, is the structural unemployment brought about by automation, IT-facilitated globalization and artificial intelligence. The balance of profit to be gained from investing in machines and software versus humans has tipped in favor machines and software. Where humans are still cheaper those humans can now be found cheapest in the developing world. This is why employment growth has been so slow in the “recovery” since 2009, and why we may slip into another global recession. Rising and persistent global unemployment will also likely increase political instability throughout the world.

What should we be doing about it?

The defense and protection of all social welfare systems, from unemployment benefits and universal healthcare to education subsidies, is a high priority in order to slow the recessionary pressures. But as the structural unemployment accelerates, and is joined by radically lengthening lifespans and collapsing pension systems, we need a radical re-think of the relationship of education, work, leisure and retirement. We will need to advance radical solutions such as replacing pensions, Social Security, retirement, and unemployment and disability insurance with a basic guaranteed universal income. We need to replace the K-college education model with a system of life-long learning and general skill enhancement for the rapidly changing occupations that are still available. All of this also requires increasing the progressivity of income and corporate taxes, and stemming the growing inequality between the top 1% and bottom 99%.

What’s in it for us if we get it right?

If we can transition to a society in which the vast majority share equitably in the wealth generated by automation and AI, and build a culture in which identity is not based on wage labor but on learning and social contribution, then we can preserve and expand democracies and transcend our brief adaptation to wage labor. Birth rates will fall and lifespans will lengthen as access to anti-aging medicine spreads. But older people will stay productive, instead of crushing the welfare systems, and older societies will be more peaceful and sustainable. If there is a Singularity of some sort, it will be more likely to have egalitarian and beneficial effects than catastrophic ones.

What are the risks if we don’t?

To the extent that a global movement for technologically-facilitated social democracy does not emerge there will be widespread poverty, endemic violence and neo-feudalism. Reactionary theologies like radical Islamism and Christian fundamentalism will spread, and neo-Luddites will attempt to ban and smash the machines they identify as causing their ills. Emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and AI will be more often used for surveillance, social control, warfare and terrorism.

James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist who serves as the Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is author of Citizen Cyborg and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. From 1999-2011 he produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio. (Subscribe to the J. Hughes RSS feed)



COMMENTS

I am in full agreement with Dr. J on this - the
“growing inequality between the top 1% and bottom 99%”
in the USA is shameful, dangerous, and bodes ill for the future of techno-progressivism. 

Especially so for the USA, because Europe is far more equitable, and the citizenry doesn’t generally go into debt for a college degree.

I also agree with James.

Hank talks about how Europeans carry less debt with college education. What doesn’t help to solve the problem in America are the opinions of Peter Thiel. Formal education is something to be valued and we should be working towards making it cheaper for young people to go to school.

I’ve yet to hear anyone ranting about the reformist side of democratic socialism on the street, but I don’t doubt that it happens from time to time. I’d rather remake social relationships with extreme haste, but your proposals would come as welcome change in the context of the present nightmare.

Shaping sociocultural and socioeconomic change is crucial, and would also go a long ways to easing all of the other concerns and problems concerning excessive consumerism, waste, climate change, damage to our environment and sustainability etc.

Quote - “The defense and protection of all social welfare systems, from unemployment benefits and universal healthcare to education subsidies, is a high priority in order to slow the recessionary pressures. But as the structural unemployment accelerates, and is joined by radically lengthening lifespans and collapsing pension systems, we need a radical re-think of the relationship of education, work, leisure and retirement.”

Unfortunately, these social welfare supports are the first to be attacked for cost cutting and downsizing because they are still viewed on the whole as non-productive, (I won’t bore everyone to death with the current organisation of UK union protesting concerning UK government health reforms, cuts to public and civil services and attacks on specifically these pension areas). Governments tear at the social infrastructure in times of economic belt tightening because they are impotent to tax the elite and penalise the banking system and it’s profiteering that encourages the boom and bust.

Quote - “We will need to advance radical solutions such as replacing pensions, Social Security, retirement, and unemployment and disability insurance with a basic guaranteed universal income.”

In theory Marge, this is exactly what we need, but the problem is how do you implement this kind of radical change? This is what our UK Conserva-Tory, (now reinvented new social-libertarian), government aspires to achieve, yet for all of the wrong reasons and without any guarantees, and it is progressing radical cuts and changes to merely support and prop up falling growth and to reduce debt .. by.. making more people unemployed and reducing benefits, (health care is next)? Doh?

Yet, being the optimist that I am, I still think we can achieve this kind of social reform, if there is a “united” and “universal” consensus to envisage such change. How would you solve the problems concerning Greece for example? With exactly the game plan you propose above! And perhaps now is the time to implement it there, and the Greeks may once again serve as a model for world democracy and social reform - if they dare, and if we dare to support it? Although the problems of social and economic reform are confounded by lack of guarantees and mistrust of government incompetence.

Q: If you have been paying a pension for the last 20-30 years - what right has any government, (in the name of pleading economic hardships and reform, whilst at the same time supporting elite banking bonuses), to renege on these monies?

If we had a magic switch that could make all of the guarantees that you espouse above, then we could flip it - but in the meantime, unless governments really do start “investing” in this kind of socioeconomic change and guarantee that peoples will not lose their pensions, their homes, and finally their health - then we are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Quote - ” We need to replace the K-college education model with a system of life-long learning and general skill enhancement for the rapidly changing occupations that are still available.”

Indeed! Personal development and other areas of social rewards are key to keeping people content, and could even one day supplant monetary rewards altogether? Most folks want to learn and keep their minds and bodies active, VR is also another area of reward that can be utilised fully in the unfolding technological future to keep minds and bodies and will’s active and healthy. This has been discussed at length here before.

Yet we will still have need for meritocracy to encourage the best of people, to fill these occupations and to promote the best of continued innovation, and the furthering support of progress in all areas, social philosophy, wisdom, art, and technological. People will still require rewards, (of whatever kind), not merely because of need for personal gratification and social comforts, but because it is also just and right to reward this.

Quote - ” All of this also requires increasing the progressivity of income and corporate taxes, and stemming the growing inequality between the top 1% and bottom 99%.”

Yes! “Moneypenny - take a memo.. address it to “world leaders” - The thing is.. letters are no good, “they” know this, “we” know this, the greedy hoarding “elite” know this, so what are we to do?

“What doesn’t help to solve the problem in America are the opinions of Peter Thiel.”

Overall, yes, his libertarianism is the same old souped-up Reaganism we are now so familiar with; they can’t get past Reagan no matter how hard they try. However the scholarships for not going to college Thiel grants aren’t harmful; good universities aren’t going to shut down unless Thiel someday awards a great deal more funds for not going to college—MIT and Stanford wont shut down because of Peter Thiel. The diversity of it is appealing: a few students get scholarships to study outside academia.

“I believe the emerging technological impact that has received far too little attention, and which is already having wrenching effects, is the structural unemployment brought about by automation, IT-facilitated globalization and artificial intelligence.’

I’m not so sure that automation has brought (so much?) structural unemployment.

You may recall President Obama linking unemployment and the rise of ATM machines, “The other thing that happened though, this goes to the point you were just making, is there are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers,” President Obama said about unemployment in an interview with NBC’s Ann Curry. ... If you see it when you go to a bank you use the ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller. Or you go to the airport and you use a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate,” he said.

One problem with the president’s statement is that it isn’t even factually correct to say that ATM machines displaced bank tellers. The number of ATMs more than doubled between 1998 and 2008, from 187,000 to 401,500, according to the American Bankers Association. Yet data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that during the same period, the number of bank tellers rose from 560,000 to 600,500. BLS expects “favorable” job prospects for bank tellers over the next decade.

  John Hall, a spokesman for the American Bankers Association, explained that when ATMs started being used more widely, there was a lot of talk about them eliminating human bank branches, but it turned out that customers wanted both. The number of bank branches in the United States has grown from 81,444 in 1992 to 99,109 by late 2010, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. During that time, the total number of bank workers rose from 1.8 million to more than 2 million.

Yes, post-post, his scholarships are not harmful, and actually, if you read over what these 20 young adults want to do, investing in their projects has the possibility of bringing about immensely beneficial technologies. But even if these young adults succeed, it does not follow that he has proved anything valid against the tradition of the academy, nor has he defended a reasonable alternative path for young people to take. All of the kids he invested in are very high achievers (a few starting their first businesses in their mid-teens), and all would be considered near genius if not genius in terms of intelligence. In reality, the majority of people wouldn’t succeed as autodidacts and are not nearly as ambitious or intelligent as the kids he invested in. Not to mention, these kids have figured out what they want to do at a fairly young age with a high degree of certainty. This is a rare quality in young people, especially in the West where kids are maturing slower and slower. Many young adults have the ‘finding themselves’ experience in higher education, trying out different ideologies, and I think that is great thing.

When the press about what Theil was doing went up I remember seeing the articles going around Facebook with comments like ‘yeah, I knew all along we don’t really need to go to school. With the Internet we can do everything by ourselves’... etc. etc. Incidentally, most of those railing against the academy in this way (I find) never went, and tended to hold some kind of resentment against those who did. Or, didn’t seem to understand the difference between ‘technical knowledge’ and a Bachelor’s Degree. Or, hold some kind of libertarian resentment against the tradition (whether it be that the academy in some places (like Canada) is in part publicly funded, or the tradition of being a ‘student’ at the ‘mercy’ of an establishment, not free to do exactly what they wanted to do, made to take courses they didn’t want to take, and on and on…etc. etc.). Theil actually went to school, graduating from Law at Stanford, and seems to, at least in some ways, have a libertarian agenda. 

Why devalue and undermine the value of formal education because it doesn’t mesh well with one’s political philosophy, or because it at present is very expensive? Instead, why not find ways to make it more affordable?

Anyway. It’s nothing to worry about, and a waste of time complaining about I suppose. It can just be ignored and the effort is better spent trying to figure out how to provide more equal opportunities in terms of education for all.

It is very odd when libertarian futurists simultaneously argue that emerging technologies will turn the world upside down, and bring manna from heaven, but balk at the idea that productivity increases in the coming decades may start eroding employment instead of creating it. Especially when employment has been declining for a decade.

This review of the debate is quite good:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relationship_of_automation_to_unemployment

which notes:

“There is some concern today that the economy’s ability to continue absorbing ever-increasing automation without experiencing significant structural unemployment may be heading toward an upper limit—that is, that we are approaching a point where the Luddite premise will no longer be entirely fallacious, because the relationship of humans to machines that made it fallacious is changing. In this view, the empirical strength of the eternal-fallaciousness idea is only a reflection of the parameter values of the environment thus far. In other words, the idea is undoubtedly an excellent explanation of the past, but whether it can accurately predict the future is an independent problem. Like an investment prospectus, proponents of this view caution that “past performance is no guarantee of future results.”

And this report from McKinsey and Company:

http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications/us_jobs/index.asp

Partly concludes:
“Recoveries are increasingly becoming ‘jobless’ due to firm restructuring, skill and geographic mismatches between workers and jobs, and sharp decline in new start-ups. The US needs to create 21 million new jobs by 2020 to regain full employment – and only achieves this in our most optimistic job growth scenario.”

I had a conversation recently with a co-worker about social progress.  I analogized world progress with an argument between two people.

We have two people who want to leave the house to go to the park but they cannot seem to find the car keys.  The two begin debating and arguing over the best way to find the keys and they also blame each other for their circumstance.  Nightfall comes, the park closes, and the two never leave the house.

Now, perhaps this analogy is somewhat too simple to make a comparison but here it goes…

Many times, people get wrapped up in the idea that the world is supposed to operate in a specific rhythm and order.  Some may think that any deviation from ideology and the current system is a bad idea, and if we can just figure out a way to make the current system work then everything will be rainbows and sunshine again.  But one can only look under the couch cushions so many times before realizing that the car keys are just not there (no matter how many other times you have found the keys there before).

Old systems that no longer work should be thrown off to allow new paradigms to take hold.

So, stop arguing about the car keys.  You’ve checked the couch, the kitchen, and the bathroom.  Stop arguing with that jerk that just wants you to stay at home with them and remain bored all day.  Check the mantle, grab your keys, and make some progress in your day.

Easier said than done?  Only time will tell.

You are correct, Nikki, which is why I had written above Thiel is no threat to MIT or Stanford—especially since excellent laboratories are extremely expensive. However when it comes to elementary education, we shall see; one problem is young students are told entirely conflicting things: take for a random example how a ‘conservative’ substitute tells a class that Christopher Columbus was a noble explorer who opened up the Americas for progress. A Marxist substitute tells the class that Columbus was a genocidal imperialist whose voyage led eventually to the deaths of millions of natives (Pizarro and Cortez might get a pass because they were Hispanic, not Italian). Will spare you my further belabored points.
Here is a good piece on the ‘Lost Decade’, wherein Clinton urges clean energy as the replacement for the IT boom of the ‘90s:
http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/exclusive/lost-decade-bill-clinton-spur-job-growth-economy-154922419.html

BTW the US labor force participation rate fell again last month to 64.1%, the lowest rate in thirty years:

http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

When I first read this I thought “boring” - it’s so much more fun to think about how the singularity will explode our sense of identity and individuality and merge us into some Borg-like cybercollective. But on reflection it makes a lot of sense to me. In the words of the Pet Shop Boys: “we only wanted something else to do than hang around”.

Of course there are three problems with unemployment. One is that the individual is not contributing to society. One is that the individual may not be getting an income on which they can live company. And one is that the individual is likely to suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and consequently suffer and make others suffer.

One solution that should perhaps complement the suggestions already made is to disseminate ideas of the Tim Ferris Four-Hour Work Week type that help us rethink the nature of employment, its link with remuneration. Generally we need to get away (perhaps even more so here in Europe) from the scarcity mentality that we have got ourselves into since the financial crisis, and which is horribly self-fulfilling. We’ve gone from an orgy of debt to an orgy of austerity, and it’s wrong. We need to rediscover the meaning of faith, and start to believe again that anything is possible. It’s above all limited, unimaginative thinking that is allowing technology to create “unemployment” rather than a proliferation of new, much more rewarding kinds of employment that were ever possible in pre-technology times.

soo many comments.. you know in France, there is also a lot of poor people, and a lot of students don’t work at University, and all of them keep watching some reality TV shows.. I agree with J. on all points, except that it can’t change without a big cultural shift, which for myself, i see in the relationships status, meaning we’d have to behave in a post’S manner although our bodies still claim passion and weddings.. (just joking)

@ Etienne..

What we need is more “Reality-interactivity” yes? Trouble with the TV is that it is merely a receiver - presently, and voyeurs are such lazy couch potatoes - I know this!

Just read this inspiring article over at H+ magazine.. I’m sure James will not mind me sharing here?

AGI and the emerging peer to peer economy
>> http://hplusmagazine.com/2011/06/18/agi-and-the-emerging-peer-to-peer-economy-ben-goertzel-interviews-ai-researcher-mohamad-tarifi/

@Peter re “start to believe again that anything is possible. It’s above all limited, unimaginative thinking that is allowing technology to create “unemployment” rather than a proliferation of new, much more rewarding kinds of employment that were ever possible in pre-technology times.

Great thinking. I only wonder who will say this to the imbecile and/or corrupt bureaucrats who love to think of oceans of regulations and useless paperwork to prevent little people from making little money, while of course their regulations never stop big people with big money.

Now there are huge opportunities for social entrepreneurs to buy directly from food producers and sell directly to consumers, which would be a win-win-win deal for all the parties concerned (the entrepreneur, the producer and the consumer). Wait a sec, the big distribution chains would lose. Who bribes the bureaucrats in this case? Yeah, you guessed it.

@Giulio…Ah yes, policy capture. What to do about it? Getting angry is a good start, for sure. Another possibility is to *ignore the bureaucrats*. That may be an odd thing for me to say because strictly speaking I *am* a bureaucrat, but possibly not for long. Of course if one is ignoring regulations one needs to manage one’s risks, but it may be counterproductive to try and fight them. Better to just get on doing what we love, and do best. That’s the most compelling, positive and infectious approach.

By the way in my earlier comment “company” should have read “comfortably”. Sorry!

thanks for reminding me this article Cygnus (what is this name ?) very interesting indeed, although i wish they made ten of them so that they can explain better their thoughts (but i already have some that i couldn’t find time to read) But i’m not sure what is the link with my com here ? i was saying “the economic (original meaning :household administration) war” will continue - look rich people continue to fight whereas some of them could live a post-scarcity kind of life ; sometimes i think again of this “morphological freedom” chapter in the h+ student network book that i didn’t agree and why i, for now, didn’t go deeper there. but this com is too long yet !

@Peter Wick : all faith is about feeling it - unfortunately Descartes thought his poor thinking was more real that the pain my head in his nose would have done. Tragic, but faith is exponential, and networks can help us few believers (global heart feelers) to make it happen.

Good place to start would be with primary ed. Higher ed is okay; and secondary & HS students can think for themselves to some extent, but elementary students believe what everyone tells them, e.g.,“Columbus was a good guy”; or “Columbus was a monster.”
Young students are captive audiences. Don’t know what it is like outside America, but in America a McDonald’s mentality is at play: it works well with Big Macs and Quarter Pounders, however
‘Over 10 Billion Served’ does not work so well with students.

may i say, i would believe that this cultural shift is not much about changing habits yet, but more about accepting new desires (immortality, freedom etc.)

Teach mindfulness and empirical (positive) psychology in primary schools.

Tell kids there is no absolute right or wrong: it is up to them how they want to live their lives, but of course their decisions have consequences, for which they are responsible.

Get them thinking early on about how they DO want to live their lives, and use the empirical psychology to raise their awareness of what decisions are most likely to make them happy. That of course includes transcendence, and a willingness to participate in common endeavours.

so we don’t have any video of a ten years old kid who would have already been taught about “paradise opportunity” (lol) ? kids are bored everywhere, it’s time to teach them funny things.. oh god i can’t believe such a poor comment will be accepted .. oh yes, i remember now, Freud talked about love once, of course, but what if brain scans reveal that childhood is in fact a full of pain period (that would mean i wasn’t the only one) that can be avoided only through disturbing activities ?..

Existentialism, personal responsibility and Self-understanding are all key to creating social change. The only other alternative is to rule by increased laws and penalties - and we don’t want that do we?

This change needs to be encouraged from the top down, yet enacted from the bottom up, how else? You cannot force people to change or to think for themselves?

And yes all of this should be taught to children, including mindfulness, social history and it’s mistakes, and promote positive and critical thinking in classes. “What do you want? How would you change things?” are questions that we should be asking kids?

Thing is, governments don’t really want to encourage FREEdom thinking or promote empowerment of the masses do they?

“Thing is, governments don’t really want to encourage FREEdom thinking or promote empowerment of the masses do they?”

That is correct: they mostly only look out for their own people—“to the victor go the spoils”. Why do you think they celebrate enthusiastically after they win an election? because after getting into the saddle they can get their family, friends, and associates on the gravy train. Observe how doggedly the GOP/ teabaggers push bad religion, outdated Gipperism, America is “the greatest country in the world” fluff-patriotism (they think waving flags and wrapping red white and blue bunting on their podiums wil promote love of nation), and they apparently can’t make up their minds whether or not they want compassionate or incompassionate ‘conservatism’. A tough call on the football field of life!
They simply don’t know what to do; it isn’t merely hostility, part of it comes from their religiosity, they think by chanting the name of Reagan over & over the spirit of the Gipper shall fill unto ours souls a new rebirth of freedom. However they are practical in many ways, hardnosed, efficient, which is where their strength derives; it’s not merely religiosity, it is also marketing. They want to outflank the marketing strategy of their opposition in selling their politicians because they sense since they were able to so before they can do so again by pressing their advantages as firmly as possible. So it IS more cluelessness than hostility, IMO—they think it will go on as before even though today we can see it definitely will not go on as before.

post post i’m sure you’re a sexy person ! i would even say, you must be young enough for me (less than 60) ah ! but you should be carefull, once they’ll believe (believe) in Aubrey, they’ll just wipe out your country - post-history has no time for trials, paradoxically !

Thanks, etienne… I guess.

Re “governments don’t really want to encourage FREEdom thinking or promote empowerment of the masses do they?

Bingo. Governments (or, more precisely, government officers) want a society of sheeple so they can exercise freely their sadistic control-freakery. And of course, steal more and more and more public money for themselves and their buddies.

I recommend this article of mine:
http://spacecollective.org/giulio/6919/Back-to-the-60s-back-to-the-future-and-onwards-to-the-stars

Freedom cannot be given. Only taken.

Hey Giulio, thanks for this article, I was reading it yesterday in fact, and it’s always such a pleasure to read italian writers, especially when they speak english (or french !) I admit i didn’t understand very well the very nice com also but well.. Can we agree until people are adults (15 years old) they couldn’t be more than five individuals for each teacher ? Well seems leftist, what i’m not in fact, but it seems it’s necessary.. not only for fun but for creating team work, educating for/to freedom (this is not something obvious). About debate, I think a false idea is to think Republicans would respect less genetics, but I guess they don’t even know it..

Re: What should we be doing about it? it is incumbent on all responsible commentators to mention military spending, which has bankrupted ours species. You can’t mention the US economy without lamenting the bleeding cancer that is the Pentagon.

Or is the US now a fully propagandized, 3nd generation military kleptocracy right across the board? In which case I recommend a world boycott of all nuclear nations to begin, to finally bring humanism and respect for the species to the fore.

and teacher should be mission, like to be soldier, well paid, although i guess in the US private schools can level up their lazy teachers, here i would recommend that they don’t smoke tobacco, smoke marijane sometimes before giving classes, and run marthon every six mounths

“Governments (or, more precisely, government officers) want a society of sheeple so they can exercise freely their sadistic control-freakery. And of course, steal more and more and more public money for themselves and their buddies.”

Giulio, why is it you think the private sector is more responsible than the public? can you provide hard evidence that it is? you yourself are not a rightist, however rightwingers are by definition control-freaks; not being satisfied with wealth, they want excessive power for not only themselves but for their own people (i.e. to build dynasties) and this power-addiction is ebbing at a snail’s pace relative to the speed of material progress. We have to discuss this in detail, not for expediency’s sake to say “statism bad; business good, liberty good”—if only it were so simple!
You are not an extremist, Giulio, unfortunately it appears most rightist libertarians are, they are a mirror image of the extremism of hardline Marxists.

Hmmmm…...@CygnusXI @post-post (you sexy thang!) @Giulio Aren’t we getting into another of our excessively anti-government, anarchist/libertarian rants here? Sure governments often behave like that, some of the time, but not all of them all the time. And we haven’t yet invented a way to do without them that actually works. Furthermore, if we assume that governments are corrupt by the very nature of government, then we will never be motivated to hold our leaders to account. We have to at least believe in the possibility that some of them behave, or can be made to behave, well.

In the end governments are made up of people, much like the rest of us. They’re not (all) saints, but they’re not (all) villains either.

i feel like we didn’t blurr love rules enough, creativly materialist, if she can’t transcend herself, how she get there ? How can we ignore this pain ?  @peter : i would prefer to be in giulio’s place than yours, sincerely
(i’m get in mate)

“@post-post (you sexy thang!)”


(Not sexy any more, that’s covered under the statute of limitations).
You are right Peter, anti-statism is as extreme as the anti-business rhetoric of rigid Marxists.

@post-post - I do NOT think the private sector is more responsible than the public. I am against big business as much as I am against big government. I am for small independent business and small independent communities.

@Peter re “governments often behave like that, some of the time, but not all of them all the time. And we haven’t yet invented a way to do without them that actually works.” - of course you are right. Yet, I do think “governments are corrupt by the very nature of government”, and that we should keep looking for alternatives that actually work. A good first step would be breaking big nation states into much smaller fully independent regions.

Is that really what you think Giulio ? You know I wanted to do my PhD about his, the “régionalisation of Europe ? Wi th the blurring of national borders in favor regional states, like Catalunya for example ? But it fact it willl take too much time. So I asked my spanish constitutional teacher at the time if I could do a PhD about EUropean Military POwer, and he said “yes that’s the big idea” but I was joking, how could I do, “me”, a PhD about military ?.. I was so surprised(and laughed) he said yes, when he was clearly against army somehow like me (he was a specialist of South American Native Indian RIghts. But back to governments, in the US it’s obvious, and even in France, some big corporations already said they don’t trust goverment sbecause they know they can corrupt them (Bouygues said it very clearly) - so goverments are only “guilty” of not being able to find correct alternatives, if ever. (many of my coms are not published here, you should go on h+ mag !)

@giuliio re </i>”.. A good first step would be breaking big nation states into much smaller fully independent regions.”</i>

In my book The Humanist (smashwords.com) any ethnic population has the right to become a Canton under the UN. They simply have to genetically map out the area in which they are 50%+ and they get it. They then negotiate federations under similar shared rules, for further purposes.

“A good first step would be breaking big nation states into much smaller fully independent regions.”

Giulio, of course you are correct on small businesses, but it also depends on what corporations are doing; economics is still largely value-neutral, an economy, an aggregation of economies, is/are the sum total of everything we do—everything from baby food to hydrogen bombs. Value-neutrality means we expect the ‘invisible hand’ of the marketplace to succeed—however the invisible hand may no longer be enough in a future of hyper-complexity/complication and an unknown degree of biospheric degradation. Also, here in America (the only country I know well) many owners of small businesses are old fashioned & luddite; so ‘Small is Beautiful’ doesn’t always cut the mustard. Don’t know about Europe (it takes decades for an expatriate to so much as barely comprehend another SMALL nation), yet what you are suggesting would be something I would like to have done in America; I do not like Southern bad-religion, for instance, and if America were to be completely devolved (partitioned) into, say, the Northeast/South/Midwest/RockyMountainEmpire/Southwest/North-west regions, then Southern bad-religion influence & power would be diminished over the other regions (the above is just a random example). Problem is, the people who own America are such pigheads you can barely talk to them, and now they are CELEBRITY- pigheads.
Even in the ‘80s you could communicate with them, somewhat. At the nearby college, there used to be a Space Interest Group (SIG) staffed by mostly Republican aerospace undergrads one could actually talk to. No more.
That was then; this is now.
And BTW after the last Space Shuttle touches down very soon, what happens? this is anyone’s guess.

@post-post re: “And BTW after the last Space Shuttle touches down very soon, what happens? this is anyone’s guess.”

It takes 11 million years to drive to teh nearest star at 60mph.

The Universe is wallpaper.

Let’s take 1000 summers to register each other’s DNA with each other, invent humanism (again), harmonize the planet.

Chinese are not celebrity pigheads, but you keep believing your politicians are not, already, doing exactly what chinese say. I can’t understand this, if someone can explain me, is it only the military power that still gives americans (and french, but you colonized us) the illusion that their debt could last more ? I hope you have some currency trick in the shelves or i suspect harlem will look again as it used to, in some years that were not all to be remembered.

@Dwight Jones : you should publish in the cosmist influenza! i wish to have my new laptop !

“but you keep believing your politicians are not, already, doing exactly what chinese say.”

You mean through Chinese front corporations? you might be right. And it isn’t fair to play the blame game- otherwise we would have to name politicians, not merely write “they”.
“They” are doing what they think is right at the time they are doing what they do based on mixtures of good & bad intentions. However, though I know what progressives want, it is difficult to know what Rightists today want (well, they can’t be called simpletons).
France? don’t know anything about France, only far-northern Europe, unless France is similar to French Canada… but French Canada is NOT quite similar to France, is it?

Well, some french live in Canada, but all in all, Montréal is the best anti-snob city I know. I wish my friend Emmanuele Scansani could tell us about Chinese politics, I’m sure he would not agree with me, he is a serious thinker (i think Americans still have more active-cash and a few nice women leaders). Honestly I don’t have much clue what you just tried to say, but i know power was more fragile than it seemed ; although in my opinion, we are already in a post-power world post-democratic order, and they just keep the democracy wall paper for people like Carla Bruni who like Walt Disney. And to me it’s not only a good thing, it’s an emergency, but I know Giulio or James would not agree here

Well tomorrow is Le quatorze juillet - what better day to start, to begin, to visualise, the possibility for change, (maybe leave it till midday - let’s not be too hasty!)

Vive la revolution technologie!

“Honestly I don’t have much clue what you just tried to say”

There is no *they*, really, it is merely shorthand. In America “they” (IMO of course) are the GOP/tea baggers and their allies, yet that is still far too imprecise. Nevertheless if you pay attention to what GOP mouthpieces, for example, are saying you will see “they” (without naming names) are scrambling for power, now reduced to proclaiming “Reagan is the answer to everything” (title of 7/13 piece at AmSpec blog.
It is extremely difficult to know what it is they deep down want—educated spokesmen can’t actually think that what succeeded in the ‘80s will succeed in this more complicated era; however some of them have conned themselves into believing they can devise political time travel to return to the ‘80s. You French are not so foolish as to think you could politically return to Pompidou’s France, are you?, and France is smaller and less complex than the U.S.
It is based on a mixture of good & bad intentions because “they” partially do think returning to a simpler era can be done; but also they are soldiers on political maneuvers—and if you ever lived in America you know they fight like Napoleon at Austerlitz.

http://spectator.org/archives/2011/07/13/reaganomics-is-the-only-answer

We were told many times before of how Jesus is the only answer: how blasphemous of these Republican idolators; for this sin they shalt descend into the lower depths of Hell, to be devoured by foxes.

@Dwight Jones re e “In my book The Humanist (smashwords.com) any ethnic population has the right to become a Canton under the UN.

Linking local autonomy and self-governance to ethnicity is unnecessary. It is not about ethnicity, but about community and shared values, which do not always have much to do with ethnicity.

How about just “any population has the right to become a Canton under the UN.”

Of course: please don’t get me started about the UN. Sadly, it is a bad joke told by bad jokers. No real power ever wanted the UN to have any real power, no real power ever will. We must do something about current real powers first.

@giulio re ”..Linking local autonomy and self-governance to ethnicity is unnecessary. It is not about ethnicity, but about community and shared values, which do not always have much to do with ethnicity.

How about just “any population has the right to become a Canton under the UN.”

Of course, that would be always be an option.

But to take the Basques as an example. The Spanish could declare that they were the ‘larger community’ and vote not to let them. But if the Basques could map out an area wherein they were the genetic majority, then that could be the basic unit for a Canton that could not be overturned by a larger one.

Of course there would have to be a lower limit on its size as well, etc., but this is meant to protect aboriginal lines and their territories, and is a counterweight that one has a right to live anywhere in the world. We do not, we have responsibilities at home.

Of course: please don’t get me started about the UN. Sadly, it is a bad joke told by bad jokers. No real power ever wanted the UN to have any real power, no real power ever will. We must do something about current real powers first. “

Kofi Annan made the comment that “..the UN has a very small budget, smaller than the Fire Dept of New York.” Indeed, it is <2% of military spending.

If we reversed those numbers, and we shall, then I think you might be better served. Especially if all that money went to harmonizing the species with the planet, and it had better, and soon.

I like your “feeling” dear Dwight, but I can’t agree, culture is not a matter of genetics, culture remains in the hands of the one who got it in its heart (so to speak), I would even be shocked (once again) that someone who seem to want good things could say such a… Are you talking about aboriginal from Australia ? Didn’t they win already with their ancient art/maps as proof ?

you really shock me with the genetic/culture/territory

@etienne re “you really shock me with the genetic/culture/territory.”

We mustn’t fear our roots, or go crazy over them, nor abandon them. One of the great tenets of classical humanism is personal responsibility, a ‘stand and deliver’ commitment to who and where you are, before life’s window. Buddhism the same, watching the world pass by, what does it mean to you, that you cannot continue?

Our species is our best friend, and we will now stay home and make our houses and families sustainable for 1000 summers - consolidate what we have.

dear dwight, can you pretend to understand anything concerning the feeling of what make precisely in its differents particular way what a girl is for example ? on this hard-edged side, you can’t pretend more than, let’s say (analyze time scanner on - differential equations with brains verified response to hormones in a schizo-capitalist translation / emotions / ) 0.1% of course.

so what is the basques culture for you ? I would say that in any “something” culture, the “something is always far more important than the “culture” - why would you (need to) be independent really in a world where you don’t have to pay your life to get a ten inches square meter to grow you stuff if you follow my reasoning ?

no, definitely, transhuman are pre-recorded ; that’s also another part of culture

“The President is missing” - Paul Krugman
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/11/opinion/11krugman.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_HP_LO_MST_FB

@etienne re can you pretend to understand anything concerning the feeling of what make precisely in its differents particular way what a girl is for example ? on this hard-edged side, you can’t pretend more than, let’s say (analyze time scanner on - differential equations with brains verified response to hormones in a schizo-capitalist translation / emotions / ) 0.1% of course.

The influence of genetics (used in my example only to define historical territory) does not mean I am bereft of feeling everywhere else. Nor does epigenetics and its interactions with culture, if we must be thoroughly modern.

These are separate phenomena we can all share coincidently. In fact, I want to resolve them as givens, to clear the stage for a true era of prosperity and peace, where we can finally stop living “..lives of quiet desperation”, which you seem to focus on.

Recognizing the role of genetics in life does not make anyone a proto-nazi, although I must suspect the thought processes and/or motives of anyone who would accuse people people of that, gratuitously.

You seem to have a nice style, and I like that you take the advantage of not being “really clear”.

Since you don’t have enough education to answer my poor few questions though, I will give you a last chance (maybe)

proto-nazi : in my dictionnary proto mean “before” or in spanish “antes”  : here it’s not reallly appropriate since I’m gonna explain you why I would never value such a poor statement.

I don’t care you call me one that insults others of being post-neo-super-nazi ; in fact I don’t care that much since I believe people here are smart enough (it’s not even very clear in your question if you accuse me or not) : we are not on TV, I don’t need to “kill” you right now.

BUT, as you maybe know, I think that no Singularity movement can go mainstream without a peace made toward our european nazi heritage.

french rightists would never call them “nazi” whereas in fact, “eugenism” is totally assumed, because it’s the principle of life, and the fact that love and beauty and random meeting and humor and violence are caught in a process of betterman of human kind is not at all a problem.

Well, once again I wish to have my zizek machine to make you a nice speach which i’m totally unable of, but let’s hope in the future hein ?

We must say (imho) that nazi were right in pretending to make a “better” human ; BUT: the fact that they commited the first industrial genocide shows that they had “no heart” AT ALL. yes, you can have had Beethoven and Nietzsche and still have a whole country completely stupid, it’s possible ; artists are not elected, they try to survive.

back to your statement, yes there is some missing vision in people who think that our brain gave the best with chopin or montesquieu or p daddy or avril lavigne : those people are screamming to death for a normal world, you have no idea what the human mind is about to produce, with its normal limitations, no idea.

what i desrespect the most in your statement is that you pretend that you were “more or less right” when i told you’re wrong. For me, this is the WORST attitude EVER. Please tell me anytime you see me doing this, i would kill myself.

you know how we call my godmother, to have fun (she laughs about too)à in the family because she always want to organize everything ? “adolphine” : well, in my opinion, she is misleaded on soime important topics (self proudness especially ) but i swear this is really ironical in this very leftist part of my family

(just saying this in case that coudl seem exotic to americans)

This reminded me of something Robert Anton Wilson wrote many years ago in a piece called ‘The RICH Economy’:

“If there is one proposition which currently wins the assent of nearly everybody, it is that we need more jobs. “A cure for unemployment” is promised, or earnestly sought, by every Heavy Thinker from Jimmy Carter to the Communist Party USA, from Ronald Reagan to the head of the economics department at the local university, from the Birchers to the New Left.

I would like to challenge that idea. I don’t think there is, or ever again can be, a cure for unemployment. I propose that unemployment is not a disease, but the natural, healthy functioning of an advanced technological society.

The inevitable direction of any technology, and of any rational species such as Homo sap., is toward what Buckminster Fuller calls ephemeralization, or doing-more-with-less.”

He goes on to discuss four separate proposals:
* The National Dividend
* The Guaranteed Annual Income
* The Negative Income Tax
* The RICH Economy

http://www.whywork.org/rethinking/whywork/rawilson.html

@Wessmaniac He goes on to discuss four separate proposals:
* The National Dividend
* The Guaranteed Annual Income
* The Negative Income Tax
* The RICH Economy

Certainly we are headed for times when we must lower expectations and entitlements for ourselves. A lot of this can be achieved through the sharing of material goods and property.

What is more interesting is linking something like taxes/spending to referenda.

Example: “Do you support:
A- funding a new generation of fighter jets, versus
B- raising your projected pension by $28.month?
Choose A or B.”

A related concept:
The Internet has made us all rich, it is the most valuable permanent asset outside of land itself, and we all own all of it.

As I told Ron Bailey,
a): men want power more than freedom.
b): only sovereign individuals can be truly free, but not absolutely free; a sovereign individual is only as free as a human being can be at this time. As far as I know VR is the next best thing to being a sovereign; plus the arts, religion/spirituality and so forth are adequate escapes from the unpleasant realities of an uncivilized world.
It isn’t to criticize the wealthy or sovereign individuals; after getting a good look at the underclass, I realized how complicated the situation is. The poor are oppressed—however if only it were so simple. The key word is Exacerbated: bad families, bad peers (negative reinforcement), bad education, bad tempers, bad drugs, bad drinking habits, bad diets, etc., and many of the poor are Bad Seeds as well, for I’m convinced the ‘problem’ with the underclass is genetically-based and not merely environmental—
I have observed far too high a thug-to-pauper ratio to be sanguine; and violence IMO is directly related to not only brain damage but also genes. Then again, the prognosis isn’t as nearly as dystopian as ‘1984’ or as utopian as ‘Brave New World’.
At any rate, the underclass—not the ruling class—is the #1 reason I am relatively pessimistic. If the ruling class were to be given the information and the incentive they would rapidly change. Unfortunately it would take a long time to change the underclass—and there is no evidence any serious attempt has even been contemplated—the risk might be the prospect of empowering the underclass in the Clockwork Orange sense.

@post-post

“for I’m convinced the ‘problem’ with the underclass is genetically-based and not merely environmental—”

-I agree. The question is: ‘Ought our theory of justice take that into consideration’? (on welfare and otherwise). Does your assertion not to some extent call into question the notion of personal responsibility for poverty and actions for which the circumstance of poverty plays a large role? 

... I can anticipate a response: the underclass can be rehabilitated, which is not mistaken; however the timeframe? how many decades?

...@post-post (cont)...

Because you realize that your answer on this affects how we deal with the future scenario of parents choosing not to enhance their kids…

If people choose their children to have inferior genes (unenhanced), and we believe we ought to protect the right to choose (upholding the same beliefs in freedom we want applied to our right to choose enhancement), but this choice leads kids to poverty because of the inferiority it creates…..The question in this circumstance is, ‘do we help these kids out’ (should they need it—(help parents or help grown up kids))?

And, ‘if we don’t help them out, have we really protected their parents’ right to choose’? If their choice is discouraged by knowing that if they don’t enhance their kids they will have a difficult time keeping up, are we not influencing their choice if we do not make it feasible for them to choose unenhancement for their kids?

To me the ‘freedom NOT to enhance’ question poses as many problems, if not more problems (at least economically) than the ‘freedom TO enhance’ does…

Eventually most will choose enhancement. But we can be confident that at least at first there will be a decent number of people who choose not to enhance their kids. (for religious reasons, concerns of safety, etc.)

saying criminality or poverty is genetic is completely stupid ; the fact that black communities have a philosophy (naturally enhancing passions, evil or good) opposed to the one of chinese (passions are to be controled if not erased) and it makes their community far less able to bevelop coordinatively is obvious too.

i really liked the comment post psot but i don’t get the genetical influence, it’s like Bourdieu, errevelevant statistics in my opinions ; but culturally, erasing passions is something that shouldn’t be ; here is the problem

@ Post & Nikki..

tsk.. tsk.. So now we have a new term to contemplate, “Underclass”? How sad! I presume this class is below “working class”, and thus their poor souls are lost forever to oblivion, not being of sound mind nor morals - Let’s be free of the lot and good riddance I say! Bad genes eh? Well we don’t need that do we?

Personally, I blame MTV, Video games, and mass media manipulation for the major mind-fuck we see around us today? I’d say the root cause is sociocultural and memetic? But if you say it’s their genes that are the problem then who are they to argue?

What we obviously need is that little piece of the Jew that we’re all missing? If we could just decide what a Jew is, we could bottle that essence and save this “Underclass”? We could force it, or they should buy it ideally, from what little they have, poor sods?

What hope for this future caste?

but the fact that those philosophies emerged through geographical pre-determinations is not less true than the fact that today it’s mostly irrelevant

@Etienne

Poverty having a genetic element is not controversial. Any physical disability preventing full time work, the onset of severe illness with a genetic element, mental disorders, very low IQ….These are very good predictors of poverty/being on social assistance.

In the future, not becoming ‘enhanced’ exacerbates the original genetic predictors of poverty, and also creates new ones. The situation is more interesting in that we need to respect the choice not to enhance, but doing so leads to a circumstance of preventable inequality/poverty etc., which end up being costs to others (through social assistance).

well, ia gree of course, maybe i was a bit epidermic about the genetic question (i am a one sided man in general in favor of “life brings you what you are” and so on) although i like the fact that we can TALK about it without being encessarily some nazistic blablabla

BUT (as always!) i truly believe there will be some massive change that will make normal people (they still are a large majority among the overwhelming majority of poor people of course) not necessarily interested ; we will enhance and update for pleasure, and there will be laws for this, not to make competition ..

my only question as always is : what do we need to put this on the table in France, where as you know freedom is understood as stopping where the one of your neighboor starts.

if that makes sense..

@etienne, yeah, let’s steer clear of social darwinism…and vague arguments about the role of genetics in volition, motivation, and the like…


Cygnus, we have to develop a far more comprehensive view, and such includes the genetic factors in the caste ‘system’  (more like controlled barbarism than a system). I go out to look at the situation everyday; it is worse than you think but perhaps better than I know.

Nikki, your questions are good, but either you would have to ask smaller questions or I would need a larger mind—an enhanced brain to sort through such complicated question. But for starters, something I do know from observing the underclass/poor during the entire 4.5 decades since the Great Society was inaugurated is:
substance abuse is—when you include nicotine—ubiquitous.

Cygnus might think it is a criticism of the poor (‘underclass’ is acceptable academese) to write they are often substance abusers; however considering the conditions in which they live… sure they need the Kicks.
If you or I were sleeping outdoors and in homeless shelters—which as you probably know are not very pleasant—we might very well use tobacco and or consume alcohol. Plus if you know anything about the situation, you’ll know there are other substances used by the poor/underclass: painkillers such as Vicodin, etc.
Tobacco use by the poor is rather stylized: the rolling of cigarettes, the ‘bumming’ (requesting) of cigarettes; the rituals are fairly elaborate, which is true of alcohol consumption as well. All sorts of mannerisms, buzz words… and so forth. Subcultures are very complicated.

As you know.

@ Post…

Apologies I stand corrected, the term “Underclass” does exist. Although it’s a term I’ve never heard applied here in the UK, (for fear of public outrage?) Perhaps back in the eighteenth century, which is where it should remain buried? I don’t feel it useful in these modern times to apply such class strata as it implies that this situation is socially acceptable and customary, which then gives us cause to make exceptions and excuses not to seek solutions?

No country or state is free from the sufferings of the poor and poverty stricken, the homeless and their addictions, but none of these causes are genetic in origin. The poor are not the lowest class by design nor birth right, they are not depraved but deprived. Most in the UK have fallen on hard times due to personal hardships, economic crises, teenagers who have fled abusive households, illegal immigrants, or other – all have fallen through the social net in some manner, hopefully only temporarily.

Unfortunately here in the UK, without a permanent residence, a person is denied social security, employment, a bank account, referees, and thus all stability is lost. And this is despite having a social security number!

The idea of acceptance of a social sub-class of citizens only supports your scenario of soup kitchens and the hypocrisy in the application of charity whilst keeping a foot on the heads of the poor and deprived? We ought to be thinking of what we should be doing to eliminate this kind of poverty, which really has no place in this modern day and age – and which is really very easy to eliminate, and only obstructed by political philosophy and intransigence?

By providing all peoples with the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter, to raise them from poverty, (as professed by some such as Valkyrie ice), then we may eliminate this kind of poverty altogether, and eventually extend this philosophy world wide – a major step towards egalitarianism. Genetic manipulation has nothing to do with raising the deprived from poverty.

Note – the provision of Universal minimum standards and of basic human needs does not undermine the need for personal and social responsibility, nor does it require to supplant existing libertarian political ideologies, meritocracies and professional status seeking, pursuit of personal goals and development and achievement, nor obstruct free will to choose one’s own path towards wisdom, knowledge and personal growth. The negatives of social communism have fault where they “demand through the enforcement of laws” that all personal achievements and hard work, effort and reward is shared equally for “social common good”.

Although it is easier for me to profess these political social ideals from my existing social position, I believe we can easily eliminate poverty through only minor increases in taxation, by more efficient collection of social contributions, and pursuit of tax evasion. But more importantly, by changing our collective political viewpoint of what we deem as socially acceptable in this day and age?

First off, you are correct concerning “underclass”, it is PC; a sanitized way of saying ‘poor’. But I don’t make the rules, Cygnus, and there is no way at this time to communicate to those who do make the rules of how our universal (save for one or two N. European nations) caste ‘system’ (controlled barbarism, not a system) is outmoded. You are correct if you are saying the poor are poor mostly because of environmental, etc., reasons—including oppression. However to write, “... but none of these causes are genetic in origin”, is an exaggeration—and anyone who has the slightest knowledge of biology can be made instantly aware of this fact.

YOUR COMMENT Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: The Artificial Ape pt2

Previous entry: Sad News: IEET Affiliate Len Sassaman Has Died