• Wallows
    9.7k
    Topic subject: Productivity increases, through technology and possibly AI create a new socio-economic landscape.

    In my economics class, our professor postulated that if productivity increases would saturate, then that would be the end to economics as we know it. Nobody knows when this will happen; but, there are well-defined scenarios that would allow this to happen, such as the advent of Generalized Artificial Intelligence.

    Most Silicon Valley entrepreneurs (such as the presidential candidate Andrew Yang) propose a tax on goods produced by AI to fund Universal Basic Income for families and individuals. Yet, knowing this requires some basic knowledge about economics. Here's the gist of it, productivity increases are fueled by advancements in technology, instilled into the labor force. When a productivity increase happens, deflationary tendencies happen bolstering the purchasing power of the worker. With "more money" (purchasing power) people spend more, and this fuels GDP.

    Therefore, supposedly, when productivity increases saturate, there will be a massive deflationary tendency within the economy. Credit will become redundant, and the whole economy will reach an equilibrium where work is no longer needed. All of this assumes that AI is possible, as AI is the ultimate form of a saturated plateau of productivity increases.

    With this in mind, many people are wondering just what happens next.

    What are your ideas about this, rather pleasant future full of leisure and comfort?
  • Wallows
    9.7k
    Actually, here's something I omitted.

    Tastes and preferences will radically change. Marx epitomized this in saying,

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs
  • TogetherTurtle
    353
    With this in mind, many people are wondering just what happens next.Wallows

    Hedonism, of course.

    Sounds like the good end to me.
  • Wallows
    9.7k
    Hedonism, of course.TogetherTurtle

    This is a rather optimistic view of the future, what makes you think it will actually happen?
  • A Seagull
    188

    What do you mean by 'saturate'?
  • Wallows
    9.7k
    What do you mean by 'saturate'?A Seagull

    Basically, a point in time where mankind cannot compete with the machine in terms of productivity.
  • I like sushi
    1.9k
    @Wallows Are you very familiar with de Botton’s ideas? If so what do you think of his thoughts on economics and human ‘needs’ and ‘meaning’?
  • Wallows
    9.7k
    Are you very familiar with de Botton’s ideas? If so what do you think of his thoughts on economics and human ‘needs’ and ‘meaning’?I like sushi

    Not really, what does he talk about?
  • I like sushi
    1.9k
    Something along the lines of what I’ve brought up previously. The ‘emotional’ desires and how these are used to sell us what we don’t need dressed in a mirage of what we truly desire - our need for companionship, love, learning and meaning.

    He seems to bring up points I make myself. I’m not massively familiar with him myself, but I assumed you would be as he seems to express questions I think you’d find extremely appealing.
  • Wallows
    9.7k


    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll see a little more about it.
  • TogetherTurtle
    353
    Just spitballing. The future is the only thing I tend to be optimistic about.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.6k
    Tastes and preferences will radically change. Marx epitomized this in saying,

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs
    Wallows

    Ability and need is different than tastes and preferences, even if they radically change. I might experience a radical change from Haydn to hip hop, and you might switch your philosophical preference from Wittgenstein to St. Thomas Aquinas. That isn't going to help you with your abilities or needs.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.6k
    Under what rock does your economics professor live? Here we are in the beginning of the possibly terminal climate crisis and he's theorizing about so much production that our need for output would be saturated.

    There is no such thing as a free lunch, and maximized productive output will demand more energy than can be provided by wind and solar generation -- at least for quite some time. Here's the crucial point: By "quite some time" we will have burned through another mountain of coal and petroleum and disrupted the climate so much, we won't be worried about maximized production, We'll be worried about barely surviving the various aspects of the climate crisis -- high wet bulb temperatures that make it impossible to do agricultural work; massive flooding; unprecedented storms; highly irregular weather events that will interfere with agricultural production; massive migrations; clean water shortages; enormous ecological disruptions which will affect us severely and directly; droughts; and so on and so forth.

    Tell your professor to wake the fuck up.
  • khaled
    1.2k
    If it keeps progressing as it is I think we're going to eventually end up with everyone living an ideal virtual reality life kept alive by machines until the sun burns out
  • ovdtogt
    667
    if productivity increases would saturate, then that would be the end to economicsWallows

    Many items are far from saturated i.e. land, housing, energy and infrastructure and the maintenance of these things will continue into perpetuity.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    The future is the only thing that matters.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    Basically, a point in time where mankind cannot compete with the machine in terms of productivity.Wallows

    Yes that is true. I do believe we are developing towards a economic system where the input of human labor will become redundant. (Almost) all manual and computational tasks being performed by computers and robots. We will have to reassess our 'raison d'etre' in a fundamental way.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    If it keeps progressing as it is I think we're going to eventually end up with everyone living an ideal virtual reality life kept alive by machines until the sun burns outkhaled

    Matrix here we come.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    Tell your professor to wake the fuck up.Bitter Crank
    The Professor is correct that the logical conclusion of how our society is developing is towards saturation. That we will experience catastrophic wars and famines before we get there is besides the point.
  • Wallows
    9.7k


    The important part that you might be omitting is that all these changes will be progressing in tandem with increases in efficiency. So, you end up with more output with less energy required to produce it.

    Here's the crucial point: By "quite some time" we will have burned through another mountain of coal and petroleum and disrupted the climate so much, we won't be worried about maximized productionBitter Crank

    Well, yes, we aren't really on track to prevent a 2-degree rise in temperatures, at least not yet. But, that's the sort of thing that as a species we will have to face at some point down the road.

    My personal opinion is that there will be some serious issues that we will have to face; but, nothing is really pointing towards a future where the human species will face extinction due to the climate crisis.
  • Wallows
    9.7k
    The Professor is correct that the logical conclusion of how our society is developing is towards saturation. That we will experience catastrophic wars and famines before we get there is besides the point.ovdtogt

    Yes, pretty much...
  • christian2017
    638


    Noah Harrari said automation would end alot of jobs. Either people embrace drastically reduced zoning laws, sub-blue laws and various other ways to help the poor without imposing on the tax payer or
    we approach it from a socialist perspective and have universal basic income.

    Automation started with the industrial revolution and its only gotten more intense.
  • ovdtogt
    667
    nothing is really pointing towards a future where the human species will face extinction due to the climate crisis.Wallows

    I am of the opinion that the climate crisis will exacerbate the migration crisis which in turn bring right-wing fascist regimes take control of government around the world. That is when the shit will hit fan: wars and civil-wars will tear us apart.
  • TogetherTurtle
    353
    I would agree most of the time. However, if you don't worry about the present sometimes, you may not live to see tomorrow.
  • I like sushi
    1.9k
    With this in mind, many people are wondering just what happens next.

    What are your ideas about this, rather pleasant future full of leisure and comfort?
    Wallows

    That it will be neither ‘pleasant’ nor ‘comfortable’. I don’t see that ti could happen without a transition in attitudes towards ‘economics’ - precisely what I was trying to outline in regards to Marx.

    It is probably of use to distinguish between two terms here

    (1) Labour: A means of productivity for basic material needs - be this ‘money’ or resources for living (food, medicine, etc.,.)

    (2) Work: A means of productivity for personal needs - personal expression and ‘work’ order to nurture a sense of ‘purpose’ (beneficial to self and/or others).

    Automaton can, and certainly has, taken labour away from people. The problem is that in society today a great many people have come to confuse ‘labour’ with ‘work’ to the point that once labour is removed they’re unsure what work means minus ‘wage’. The sense of ‘worth’ has been removed from more personal action and covered over with ‘labour’ within which a false sense of ‘value’/‘worth’ has been reinforced.

    I believe that if all productive activities (in terms of ‘labour’) were taken away from everyone tomorrow you’d see suicide rates begin to rocket after a small drop. Eventually those unnerved by this limitless freedom would either rediscover purpose through violence or cooperation. In all honesty I think this has been pretty much what has been happening in the post industrial age (just at a creeping rate).

    In this regard I think the middling sections of society would suffer the most. Those in abject poverty would appreciate relief from simple burdens and be happy to take on and create new burdens, whilst those of extreme wealth will already have been living their lives as if ‘labour’ had disappeared (their challenge, if they had one, would be adjusting to others attitudes toward them altering). The middling bunch would be the suicidal bunch. Those long robbed of any serious challenges who just go with the crowd and jump through hoops. ‘Followers’ without something to follow - ‘worth’ being stripped away - would have a hard time of it.

    All that said I am painting this hypothetical scenario with a broad brush. No matter your circumstances if you were to have a sense of artistry that is developed, a studious mind and/or a thirst for exploration, then you’d be fine whether poor, middling or rich. The real question would whether or not AI’s would make good psychologists and provide better therapy than a human.
  • I like sushi
    1.9k
    To add, as I’m reading Marx, I imagine a great part of this thought is wholly absent of personal choice and tailoring goods to suit individual needs/wants/tastes. Can AI give us something we didn’t know we wanted? Can AI supplant human creativity? That would likely usher in the slow end of humanity, or our evolutionary progression where we’ll become entwined within AI.

    Humanity with a necessary reason to strive would likely destroy in order to shake things up and stave of suicidal madness in what would be a ‘pointless’ existence. I guess we could end up revering AI as God and then find ourselves merely trying to ‘copy’ what AI can do ... it would be that complete rejection of AI.

    We’re essentially imagining a scenario where humans would have no need to ‘labour’ away at all. We’d all be brought up with a silver spoon in our mouths. I’m not sure that would pan out very well at all.
  • Wallows
    9.7k


    Yes, well, it will be a rather gradual process at the start. But, overall it will happen in a relatively short span of time, 1 generation.

    I think you are right, about suicide rates shooting up. A lot of people seek meaning through work, as that's how they've been raised.

    Not much to add.
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