America is a great country, but with rising medical bills, the existence of poor, starving and homeless people, disease, and other horrible things in this world, my point is that there is always room for improvement. In his book Critical Path (p199) he says that we are capable of “producing and sustaining a higher standard of living for all humanity than that ever hertofore experienced or dreamt of by any.” This is what I would call the abundance paradigm.
Buckminster Fuller goes on to describe humanity as clinging for life shipwrecked at sea holding onto a floating piano top, perhaps we can make a better life preserver. The beginning of the book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, he compares humans on earth to a shipwreck and we are a survivor in the water and we have grasped onto a floating piano top, and we are still clinging to it in the middle of the ocean. There are better ways to stay afloat.
I am interested in doing things in a different way than we currently are doing things, obviously there are some existing problems that could be fixed, we just have to think differently about things like money, renewable energy, and world peace. With all the talk of AI (Artificial Intelligence or Super Intelligence) including automation, productivity increases, and monitoring and analyzing of data that AI can do, it begs a future where modern society is truly modern. Where information flows determine the choices we make as modern society. Perhaps in the future “modern society has access to highly advanced technology and can make available food, clothing, housing and medical care; update our educational system; and develop a limitless supply of renewable, non-contaminating energy. By supplying an efficiently designed economy, everyone can enjoy a very high standard of living with all of the amenities of a high technological society.” (source: futurewewant.org/portfolio/resource-based-economy/)
In the most common visions of the future presented by Hollywood, like star trek, they include flying cars and limitless energy — a very abundant paradigm. I like to note that they don’t use money, and they can do that because they work from a total abundance mindset. One term that attempts to describe this future mindset is called a Resource based economy, coined by architect and futurist Jacque Fresco who recently passed away in 2017. A resource based economy is “a whole factor socio-economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude.” (source: futurewewant.org/portfolio/resource-based-economy/)
So what might an resource based economy look like? Here is a look of an off-grid future from the venus project, I’m guess in the future, there will be no more utility bills and the infrastructure to supply water, waste water, and electricity services will be built into dwellings.
Source: The Venus Project.org
The architecture and individual dwellings of future cities will evolve on an entirely different basis from today’s houses. With the intelligent application of humane technologies, we will be able to provide and allow for a wide array of unique individual homes. Their structural elements will be flexible and coherently arranged to best serve individual preference. These pre-fabricated, modular homes, embodying a high degree of flexibility inconceivable in times past, could be built anyplace one might imagine, amidst forests, atop mountains, or on remote islands.
All of these dwellings can be designed as self-contained residences with their own thermal generators and heat concentrators. Photovoltaic arrays would be built into the skin of the building and into the windows themselves. “Thermopanes” would be used to tint out the bright sunlight by variable patterns of shading. All these features could be selected by the occupant to supply more than enough of the energy required to operate the entire household.
Homes could be prefabricated of a new type of pre-stressed, reinforced concrete with a flexible ceramic external coating that would be relatively maintenance free, fireproof, and impervious to the weather. Their thin shell construction can be mass-produced in a matter of hours. With this type of construction, there would be minimal damage from earthquakes and hurricanes.
Using AI to get to the future:
Now that we have looked at the future, what will help us get to that future? A lot of people think AI will get us there, they call it the second machine age. With AI (Artificial Intelligence) we finally have someone to “do the calculus” on complicated issues, see the pattern in the data, and know about the arc of the story and mission, help decision making, bring deficiencies to our attention and define risk in an actions. I am excited about AI because it means that things that require complex computing from star trek can be real. You just ask a replicator for it. “Tea, Earl Grey Hot”
One of the main concerns on AI is the question what ethics will it use? Will it be benevolent or malevolent? This is a perfect time to look at our own ethics as a modern society. Throughout modern times there have been several ethical codes that guide society. I think AI will make us rethink our own ethics, as it will hold a mirror up to our contradictions, double standards and flaws in logic. I don’t think there will be a skynet situation, but I do think we will need to question our ethics. There are four major ways of thinking about ethics, Character-based ethics (virtue), Contract-based ethics (social contract), Duty-based ethics (Deontology), Results-based ethics (Consequentialism), and I predict a fourth phase of ethics, (futurism).
Rules that govern an individual’s personal and professional life may be classified into four general and overlapping categories: laws, morals, ethics, and etiquette. These are social contracts that have developed over time and have become rules that members of society have agreed to live by. Laws are rules that are absolute and enforceable by established governing agencies. Morals are disapproved behavior; they are not codified or endorsed as law. Etiquette or good manners are suggested conduct, usually applied in social settings. A definition of ethics requires a distinction of the differences between these categories. – Phillip H. Gerou, FAIA, NCARB Ethics and Professional Rules of Conduct: Distinction and clarification.
Back in early modern times, the Greek’s had character based ethics, where this approach “to ethics encourage people to focus on the development of a good character or virtue. Virtues include justice, courage, prudence, and temperance all stress the importance of a person acquiring a sense of balance, persistence, and moderation, which philosophers such as Aristole thought of as key to living a good life.” (source: AHPP, p14 15th Edition) This sounds normal and not to antiquated for having been written thousands of years ago.
In the 17th century, in describing contract-based ethics Thomas Hobbes describes early life as “nasty, brutish, and short” and argued that people should give up some of their personal freedom in exchange for authority of a strong government able to keep peace. This is the beginning of advanced social-contract, where society benefits if the individual gives up some freedom.
In the 18th century, the conversation in ethics turns toward a duty-based ethics, where philosopher Immanuel Kant who argued for a set of what he called “categorical imperatives” to guide a person’s decisions when faced with common ethical dilemmas. The first of these imperatives would have everyone treat others as ends in themselves, and not as a means to an end. A possible caveat related to duty-based ethics has to do with the importance of having good intentions and acting accordingly, regardless of the results or any unintentional results. (source: AHPP, p14 15th Edition) For example, no company really sets out to destroy the world, they want to provide services by cutting down trees, but in fact unintentionally they may cause more harm than good, which is a hang up of duty-based ethics.
In the 19th century Utilitarianism, consequential-ism issued that whatever maximized the most good for the most people was, by definition, the right course of action. But if everyone had the same house or housing unit, would that make life better?
Early 20th century pragmatic philosophers such as William James or John Dewey, what matter is is not maximizing happiness, but looking at the results of our actions to discover what works best in a given situation. Dewey thought that experimentation is needed in order to find the good, repeatedly trying things and learning from the results. And this is what AI will help us achieve, experimentation of choices and predictions on how they might play out. Perhaps in the future when we vote, we will see where the money goes, much like those new payment apps that let groups pay for their share.
Ethical conduct falls somewhere between legal and moral obligations and general guidelines of good behavior. In early English scholarship, the terms morals and ethics were treated as synonymous, as they often are today. Over time, ethics was defined as the study of morality or a system of moral precepts. Ethics has traditionally been divided into three subject areas: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. The term metaethics describes the search for universal truths, the role of reason in making ethical judgments and the definition of ethical terms. Normative ethics refers to the more practical and pragmatic study of ethics. Normative ethics defines moral standards used to determine and regulate behavior. Applied ethics engages truth, reason, moral standards, and acceptable behavior to address specific dilemmas. These issues may relate to environmental concerns, capital punishment, gun control, animal rights, or nuclear war. Applied ethics attempts to resolve disputed issues by applying the issues explored in metaethics and normative ethics.
In current vernacular, ethics is a set of commonly held rules established by a unique group such as a church, a profession, a corporation, or a legislative body. It may be argued that ethics and morals are inherent to nature, and that humans are genetically wired or even spiritually bestowed with a predisposition for right or wrong. This is debatable, however, it is generally believed that humans have an ability to differentiate between right and wrong and have the free will to make that choice. Defining what is right and wrong necessitates a discussion of ethics and morality.
– Phillip H. Gerou, FAIA, NCARB Ethics and Professional Rules of Conduct: Distinction and clarification.
Perhaps AI will show us our mistakes in ethics, perhaps the average 3,000 advertisements per day a person currently sees would not be acceptable to AI and they would see this as a clear ethical violation, and this will make us rethink advertising in our environment, perhaps AI can filter out all the commercials for us. But with corporate powers with AI they might figure out how to increase this to 6,000 ads per day for the average first world human. See how this super intelligence can amplify things that we take for granted and make us question if we should even do them.
Paul Hawkins in his book, The Ecology of Commerce, states that “we live in a Weltanschauung, a kind of world where humankind has created away from the rhythms and pulses of nature. We live in a runaway commercial culture in which humans dominate and control natural processes to ill-conceived ends, where Faustian problems caused by new technology and industry. Those who would carry us to a new world of computerization, robotics, bio-engineering, and nanotechnology see their role as architects of the future that is controllable and thereby made secure against the random and seemingly unpredictable patterns of nature. They would create molecular machines that would eat pollution and produce ozone. They would fertilize the oceans with iron dust to reduce global warming. They would engineer our animals and plants and tailor them to human requirements: bacon with less cholesterol, tomatoes that have no genes telling them to decay, chickens without feathers or legs.”
I’m sure this technology (AI) will get used to the greatest use possible, but first the corporations with money, big data, and resources to implement AI will first out maneuver the government and society until AI become more prevalent on mobile devices and is integrated into common practices of customer service, generative design, community planning and activism, consulting and professional services.
With artificial intelligence becoming more and more a reality, pretty soon Watson, or some other computer is going to ask, what are you doing? Asking innocent but real questions that would otherwise be a political midfield. People are starving–we have more than enough food? If you insure more people the per capita cost of healthcare goes down – why don’t you implement the most efficient option – Single payer system? People are paying for energy–can’t we get it for “free” from the sun? –Why are you burning coal and making more toxic waste? Will AI make our political leaders look foolish, or help them determine the risk of voting a certain way? Will AI in the political arena be helpful, or will old establishment politicians not welcome AI into decision making. Will AI be able to fact check a politician on everything he says?–answer, yes I think so, but when?- in the future.
In Critical Path he describes: Wealth consists of physical energy combined with metaphysical know-what or know-how. He describes wealth as a phenomenon. Might all this physical energy come from super intelligent management of systems? Think of a person riding a bike the rider is making hundreds of mico-corrections adapting to the weather, traffic, obstacles, wind, holes in the pavement, all while not falling over. I imagine AI will be like this, making little corrections to make us pedal down the path a little faster and more efficient and most importantly with more abundance.
In his book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth, Bucky goes on to write about wealth as “expanded by the development of tools which go beyond what was integral to man. The highest priority need of world society is a realistic accounting system, instead of one where a top toolmaker in India gets paid in a month what he would make in a day in Detroit.” With AI we finally have an accountant that can do that math.
Basic Universal Income: Why is it so controversial? What is poverty? Why do we have it? …
From a Zero Hedge article on how universal basic income (UBI) will be needed after so many jobs are discontinued because of AI. I would like to think that a lot of professional jobs will pretty much stay the same, but they will get easier if AI is used as a tool. Sorting through cases, the work of a paralegal, will become easier for the paralegal, but to format that information into exactly what the boss wants to see, will still be a human paralegal, who is described as “super user”. But perhaps the extra time and resources that AI can aquire for a firm can be used on pro bono or charity work, and since the AI can also assist with accounting it has determined that you can easier do 160 hours per year without affecting the bottomline of the firm. Also I think that creative jobs will stay the same except AI will be used as a tool, to create design options using generative design, where a designer will set the criteria and then judge which elements to use for the final design. But there is much to come from AI.
“They are only tools, not a competing form of intelligence. But they will reshape what work means and how wealth is created, leading to unprecedented economic inequalities and even altering the global balance of power.”
“Unlike the Industrial Revolution and the computer revolution, the A.I. revolution is not taking certain jobs (artisans, personal assistants who use paper and typewriters) and replacing them with other jobs (assembly-line workers, personal assistants conversant with computers). Instead, it is poised to bring about a wide-scale decimation of jobs — mostly lower-paying jobs, but some higher-paying ones, too.”
Part of the answer will involve educating or retraining people in tasks A.I. tools aren’t good at. Artificial intelligence is poorly suited for jobs involving creativity, planning and “cross-domain” thinking — for example, the work of a trial lawyer. But these skills are typically required by high-paying jobs that may be hard to retrain displaced workers to do. More promising are lower-paying jobs involving the “people skills” that A.I. lacks: social workers, bartenders, concierges — professions requiring nuanced human interaction. But here, too, there is a problem: How many bartenders does a society really need?
The solution to the problem of mass unemployment, I suspect, will involve “service jobs of love.” These are jobs that A.I. cannot do, that society needs and that give people a sense of purpose. Examples include accompanying an older person to visit a doctor, mentoring at an orphanage and serving as a sponsor at Alcoholics Anonymous — or, potentially soon, Virtual Reality Anonymous (for those addicted to their parallel lives in computer-generated simulations). The volunteer service jobs of today, in other words, may turn into the real jobs of the future.
Other volunteer jobs may be higher-paying and professional, such as compassionate medical service providers who serve as the “human interface” for A.I. programs that diagnose cancer. In all cases, people will be able to choose to work fewer hours than they do now.
Who will pay for these jobs? Here is where the enormous wealth concentrated in relatively few hands comes in. It strikes me as unavoidable that large chunks of the money created by A.I. will have to be transferred to those whose jobs have been displaced. This seems feasible only through Keynesian policies of increased government spending, presumably raised through taxation on wealthy companies.
As for what form that social welfare would take, I would argue for a conditional universal basic income: welfare offered to those who have a financial need, on the condition they either show an effort to receive training that would make them employable or commit to a certain number of hours of “service of love” voluntarism.
To fund this, tax rates will have to be high. The government will not only have to subsidize most people’s lives and work; it will also have to compensate for the loss of individual tax revenue previously collected from employed individuals.
This leads to the final and perhaps most consequential challenge of A.I. The Keynesian approach I have sketched out may be feasible in the United States and China, which will have enough successful A.I. businesses to fund welfare initiatives via taxes. But what about other countries?
They face two insurmountable problems. First, most of the money being made from artificial intelligence will go to the United States and China. A.I. is an industry in which strength begets strength: The more data you have, the better your product; the better your product, the more data you can collect; the more data you can collect, the more talent you can attract; the more talent you can attract, the better your product. It’s a virtuous circle, and the United States and China have already amassed the talent, market share and data to set it in motion.
Lastly, just for fun, a good meme: