I’ve been reading a lot of Julian Huxley lately and, as usual, have been worrying about the fates of all the useless people of the world.
There will be as many of them as we at able to feed.
If Huxley is right, then human fulfillment is the end goal of the secular humanist religion. If recent trends tell us anything, this will only be achieved in effigy form.
When they’re all snug tight in their VR pods, maybe they’ll get to play all the permutation of the Buddha sim a few trillion times.
But, in my mind, is this really how we help people?
Maybe it is.
To help others is to hex them. However, I am not advocating that all humanity stop helping each other. I suppose the middle path is the key, and for people to help each other in gainful manners which also benefit the provider of humanitarian aid in ways other than affirmations of their importance or giving them the satisfaction of being needed – these are subtly toxic motives for humanitarianism. Nothing that I’m saying is terribly out of line with contemporary global development discourses – people need to be empowered rather than dependent.
So, I suppose the path to true power and riches lies in helping other people, helping them sort out their conflicts with each other and with themselves.
But, what do people really need? Maybe it really is the VR sims and universal basic income. Maybe they can be arrayed into distributed computing systems, and in playing their video games they would actually be crunching numbers, Ender’s Game style. But then again, wouldn’t that be less efficient than if they were, well, employed out here in the outside world?
I know that the world needs a certain ratio of entertainers and entertainees, but wouldn’t those entertainees just be those who build the technological infrastructure rather than those who have no adaptive niche in society?
This discussion dovetails quite nicely into my discussion about how the elite stay in power, and how can renegotiate for our rights.
Now, time to get cracking on that Buddha sim…
On a side note, here is my reaction to this report:
Due to globalization and the exponential growth of technology, the job market in the US has seen a hollowing out of those rungs which have historically required humans with specific, fixed skills such that they could function as nodes in some organizational bureaucracy or as cogs in some industrial process. With regards to technology, having learned a specific skill, rather than being skilled at rapidly learning new skills, is losing relevance because new innovations in methods and technologies are becoming more centrally important than actual products themselves. However, we as a civilization are still, so it seems, a ways off from outstripping the need for boots and the grounds and hands on the machines, so to speak; this creates a demand for low-skill labor.
This has become a common trope in discussions of the economic woes of, for example, Trumpists, as well as defenses of open borders in the US. The remedy that seems to be near-universally forwarded (within higher education – go figure!) is more education. Even if we go with this, and concede that our education model needs to become more skill-based, I feel that we are still merely forestalling the inevitable; even if we are careful to only teach and learn skill of immediate contemporary and future relevance, if the pace of technological growth starts outstripping the timeliness of the skills we require, then the ultimate premium will increasingly become the ultimate transferable skill – general “g” intelligence. I suppose I am getting ahead of myself, but I see a bleak future for much of humanity, especially when the “superstar” effect is taken into account such that many, many economic niches become redundant.