Thursday, June 05, 2014
  The most dangerous

A monstrously frightening interview on BBC Business Daily with a futurist named Kevin Surace.

Loosely transcribed, with my own comments thrown into the mix:

Announcer: But can we be so confident? At no stage in history have so many jobs been under imminent threat from technological changes.

Surace: What happens over the next few decades as the intelligence of robots starts to surpass humans, and the tasks that they do begin to overtake ours ... we're approaching a time when a seriously human-like robot may cost around a thousand dollars ... Take autonomous cars as an example. They're going to save lives ... Now there will be a day, 20 years from now, when human drivers are going to be outlawed. ... So what happens if you like to drive? Well, that will be taken away from you.

Now let's take it a step further. What happens when most of our jobs are taken over by robots? There's been a little of that, but it really hasn't impacted the world economy.

Me: Unlike most commentators, Surace has the facts right on this point. In fact most jobs in Western countries haven't been taken by technology up till now; they've been taken by cheap labor in Bangladesh and China.

Surace: What happens when even coders aren't needed because the software doesn't need specific programs? Even you (the announcer) will be replaced by a robot, because it's a lot cheaper to have robots speaking on the air.

Announcer: But we all WANT human interaction, don't we?

Surace: Well, that's the point. We as a society have judged our own worth by the jobs we do. It wasn't always that way, but certainly since the advent of money that's what we've done.

Me: Absolutely wrong TWICE. Not 'AS A SOCIETY', you fucking egregious psychopath. (1) Humans are social mammals. We are REQUIRED to be useful. It's in our genes, or it's part of God's plan. Expressed either way, it's INNATE. We cease functioning if we aren't able to be useful. (2) Money didn't create this situation. Our need to be useful created money.

Surace: We build self-worth out of what we do. What happens when our self-worth can't be built out of a job, in fact we can't earn money from a job, because all jobs can be done better by robots and computers? Now that's not 3 years from now, but it's going to happen 40 or 50 years from now. It means we don't go to work. So as humans we get two choices. We're either going to have this amazing renaissance; this amazing focus on what humans can do ... It's art, it's song, it's dance, it's creativity, it's things we haven't thought of. Or, society collapses because only a few barons own all the robots and get all the money from production.

Announcer: Well, which do you think will happen?

Surace: Well, I think countries that are EVOLVED enough will decide to do the renaissance thing, will find new ways to think of our own personal self-worth.

= = = = =

Me: There's good old "EVOLVED" used in Orwellian reverse as usual. What's the top of the heap in any line of animals or plants? What's the characteristic of a species that thrives in all sorts of situations and adapts to all sorts of perturbations? Social structure. Cooperation, competition, communication, division of LABOR. Bacteria do it, flowering plants do it, bees do it, birds do it, wolves do it, and we do it. Removing the division of labor is DEVOLUTION.

We've seen many examples of parasitic subsocieties who believe they can get along on nothing more than song and dance, or chanting and begging (the religious equivalents of song and dance). They don't last long, because only a few people can sing and dance well enough to get mates.

Civilization functions when the WIDEST POSSIBLE RANGE OF HONEST TALENTS AND SKILLS are rewarded. This means that a WIDE RANGE OF TYPES WILL BE ABLE TO MATE.

We've already lost this battle in the West. 'Superstar syndrome' is the obvious symptom. Thanks to feminism and thanks to the total destruction of manufacturing, only entertainers and barons are qualified to mate.

The most dangerous point in Surace's horrible dystopia: Why in the fuck would these "barons" provide robots FOR FREE to billions of useless humans? It's completely impossible. The "barons" will be the same Chosen People who own the means of producing money now, and they will only provide services if they can find a way to make trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars thereby. How are all those unskilled singers and dancers going to get even one robot or one gram of synthetic food-like substance? Not gonna happen. No reason to feed all those Negative Externalities.

The stupidest point in Surace's stupid argument: The good old Arrow of History, reversed as always. He considers this hellish situation to be physically inevitable, like a rock rolling down a hill. Wrong. This path is guided by unimaginably evil human intelligence at every stage. Western countries have collapsed because the barons have removed or paralyzed all feedback mechanisms that previously stood in their way. Everything that might be able to fight back or hit the brakes has been eradicated. Churches cause doubt about wealth accumulation? Blackmail churches into submission. Families naturally require a man to work for money? Use the owned churches to smash families. Laws and regulators get in the way? Leveraged buyouts of governments. When all feedback is gone, the process is indistinguishable from a rolling rock, because all indications of LIFE are gone. Feedback is life. Life is feedback.

Attempted an answer in next entry.

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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