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Stuart Dobson (M)
Melbourne, AU
Immortal since Dec 1, 2008
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We all change. The future is emergent and dynamic, evolving with our minds and our society. Technology plays a fundamental part in this evolution, this evolution of complexity. So I ask, how does technology affect society? How does technology affect our minds and then society in turn? How does our economic and political system affect society and technology? What are the products of this evolution – and what are our goals?
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    A World With No Money?
    A technocratic society has the goal of:
    Producing optimum quality goods and services at the lowest possible energy cost, and distributing the maximum amount of goods and services to everyone.

    Our broken economy has so far prevented this from being possible. The constant need for money has forced producers to continually produce poor quality goods, essentially, in order to keep the consumer buying. If you have to keep buying, you have to keep working. In today's developed world, we have far more than our parents did, yet we still continue to slave away, even massively increasing our debts to own more and more.

    Essentially, all we really need is:

    * Clean water
    * Food
    * Shelter
    * Basic clothing

    Secondary needs are:

    * Consumables
    * Electricity
    * Communications infrastructure
    * Transportation

    Tertiary needs are:

    * Luxuries
    * Science
    * Art
    * Entertainment

    The technocracy attempts to solve these needs from the bottom up, to rethink production and distribution without the need for money. While I don't agree with all the ideas of technocracy, 3 specific points cannot be ignored.

    1. Too many people go without the essential needs.
    2. Providing the essential needs, even the secondary needs, for everyone on the planet, is really not as hard as we've made it out to be. It can be done by technology, namely automation.
    3. Once everyone has been provided with the essential and secondary needs, the need to work will be eradicated, changing the fundamental shape of society.

    Whatever we all think about the political economic systems of the world is soon to become irrelevant. The days of the dollar are numbered, the fuse connected to the entire system of money has been lit. Shortly, the systems of capitalism and socialism will barely matter.

    Lets focus on how to achieve step 2. We need to harness all the energy we need from renewable sources, storing and distributing it automatically. The sun, sea, wind and geothermals can provide more energy than we'll ever need, and it's all environmentally friendly. Maintaining these energy harnesses, as well as creating clothing and consumables, will eventually be taken care of by automation. However, these tasks will be minimal, due to the increase in build quality. Genetic engineering, nanotechnology and other new technologies are set to solve current issues of food and water shortage. Eventually, extraction of raw materials, creating consumables, and maintenance of machinery, will all depend on one thing - the one thing we have in abundance - energy.

    Scarcity, which has so far fuelled our doomed financial system of debt and greed, will be replaced by abundance. Automation will be helped by exponentially increasing scientific and technological breakthroughs. Regardless of whether artificial intelligence becomes reality or not, we are already well on the way to destroying the current economic system. This is thanks to the increasing awareness of the potential for abundance.

    Fulfilling the essential and secondary needs of the planet will then free us up to focus intensively on the tertiary needs of society. We'll work because we'll want to. Human beings will learn to reconnect with their creative sides, providing value for society with creations and discoveries.

    Once this situation comes to pass, technocracy will have made socialism obsolete, as the previous generations will have paid for the essential needs of all future generations. Whether or not capitalism is also likely to be dissolved, is up for debate. There'll be no need to sell anything as you'll have all your essential needs, and many people will probably share their creations just "for the love of it", but perhaps competition in the creative industries could help continue to drive innovation and art. If a money system did still exist, it would only be applicable to the tertiary needs, and in this case, it would be beneficial to society.

    What can I do?

    Once built, the infrastructure for the technocracy will obsolete the money system, and this is what those in power are afraid of. This is why you won't see your politicians putting too much effort into fully renewable energy sources. There always needs to be a cost involved, some kind of maintenance. However, what's becoming apparent is that the ability to build this infrastructure is being taken out of the hands of politicians, and being put into the hands of individuals. This power needs to be realised.

    As individuals, we can help this situation by creating technology that will bring abundance. Basically anything that is highly efficient, and preferably automated, falls into this category. We need to show the world how easy it really is to provide the essential needs to everybody. And we need to show them how technology will create abundance, obsoleting the money system in favour of harnessing the immense quantity of free energy available to us.

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    aaron kinney     Wed, Jan 28, 2009  Permanent link
    Very interesting. At first I was like "wtf how can you eliminate an exchange medium without another one taking its place?"

    But then I realized that you were talking about the elimination of scarcity. Only with scarcity is trade needed, and only with trade is an exchange medium needed. So, without scarcity, there would be no need to trade or quantify value. Everything would be freely given to you in abundance, like an idealized gift economy.

    Id like unlimited amounts of sex, drugs, and rock n roll please :)
    Manuel Dahm     Mon, Dec 28, 2009  Permanent link
    Sounds like the always promised utopia where machines work for us, and men can indulge in leisure and contemplation. A promise that will never become real, its like the catholic promise of paradise "you'll be there, you just have to wait until your'e dead"

    I also do think that it's the wrong approach to assume that everybody on this planet wants the same thing, namely access to technology, and be part of the very same future, that in my eyes is the same spirit that conquered the world for capitalism. Respect the differences.
    Infinitas     Tue, Dec 29, 2009  Permanent link
    Respect the differences.


    I think this Eutopia is very possible; though it should only be available to those who want it. I like the more libertarian route: stay out of people's lives (I'm looking at you big govt.)

    If this were/became the case, what happens to everyone else when, for example, the U.S. becomes a completely self-sufficient, automated nation, developing like crazy, living wonderfully healthy and content lives, eventually moving off of Earth? If they want a piece, I don't see any reason why the U.S. wouldn't share what has essentially become free to them. If others wanted no part in this system then they don't have to play a part. The U.S. culture would not negatively affect third world countries by exploitation because there would be no need for cheap labor, resources or goods.
    klaitner     Sun, Jan 10, 2010  Permanent link
    The notion of superabundance as inevitable is challenging. Not because it is inconceivable that we could solve the technical challenges around energy and molecular assembly, but rather precisely because we could currently provide the basic needs of the entire world, but do not.

    Human nature includes individuation and advantage seeking. Something will always be scarce, as if we provide abundance in all things, we will create scarcity elsewhere. Scarcity relative to basic needs currently exists and is possibly avoidable, but scarcity as a concept is created by mind, and could only be eliminated by the enlightenment of all beings.

    Let us for a moment allow for the singularity. If we were to transform human beings into incorporeal beings without basic needs, would we need money? Would we exchange value? What form would it take, Attention? Trust? How would greed express itself?

    If we were all provided tomorrow with a machine that provided anything we desired, would we all be whole, satisfied and willing to apply ourselves to the betterment of all beings?

    Also worth considering, if value exchange is to persist, what form will it take (beyond money?). Will we still need a universal medium of value that can be transformed into any other form (and is represented by something utterly useless and hard to make more of)? Will a recent history of specialization and trade be replaced with self sufficiency?
     
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