morriswalters wrote:If you live in the Matrix(or whatever paradigm seems that seems close enough) you still haven't run far enough away from practical scarcity. It takes energy to create that realm and hold it. If they are connected than you have the world as it is and require both the energy to run the underworld and the energy to run the VR, if they are not you have created ten billion worlds and the corresponding energy usage to maintain them and the underworld. You can't outrun thermodynamics. You might get something close to post scarcity by dropping the population to a billion or so while retaining enough automation and sufficient AI to place society in kind of a stasis. Where everyone can be given whatever they need, versus whatever they want. Think of a yeast culture which is balanced given just enough to keep the culture alive and healthy without ever outrunning its food supply.
If the definition of post-scarcity requires an infinite amount of energy then obviously we can't achieve that. Doesn't matter if the population is ten billion, one billion or one.
The point about a compressed VR universe is simply to act as a resource-multiplier: It requires the whole resources of our universe to run our universe; A much bigger universe could be maintained for a much much smaller energy requirement if only those parts of it which an entity is conscious of are processed in real-time. Who knows how much it could multiply up, but I'd be surprised if we couldn't reach the level of every person having a solar system to themselves. There might have to be simplifications made to the calculations to conserve energy - just like a Minecraft world doesn't have the same laws as our one - but I don't think people would object too much.
But it's only a multiplier. It's not magic.
The question I suppose then is can a society like that continue to advance or would physical stasis end in intellectual stasis?
If we're at that point, any advancement we
could make would be insignificant compared to the scientific and other advancements an independent AI will be making on our behalf. Our contribution to this world and universe is almost at an end - except in the sense that we will live on through our creation - perhaps literally if we have fused with it.
It'll be our retirement. And like all retirements it will be bitter-sweet. But that doesn't mean it can't still be fun.
ucim wrote:An all-powerful God is nonsense. A "very powerful" God OTOH is something that can be discussed. Once you define those limits, you have something to work with, but just what you have to work with depends on those limits.
The same is true of post-scarcity. Software is approaching post-scarcity (in a weak definition), and society is responding to that by artificially maintaining scarcity. Diamonds could easily become post-scarcity except for the DeBeers (and the fact that society wants them to be scarce, as that's what gives them value) Cubic zircrona is superior in many ways to real diamonds, however they are considered a "poor substitute" because they are not "the real thing".
Agreed to an extent, but I'd add a few caveats.
First, I don't really agree software is approaching post-scarcity. Unless I pirate I absolutely cannot have every bit of software I want. Yes there are free, open-source versions of lots of stuff but the quality - and especially the support - can be very variable.
Diamonds are a very interesting case-study, and I agree it's worth exploring exactly what's going on there:
When a man buys a diamond worth 3 months salary and gives it to a woman, he's basically saying how much that woman is worth to him, because by definition he couldn't do it for a hundred women. Be hard to even do it for a dozen unless he has basically no other outgoings or interests. So, yes, scarcity serves a purpose in our current society: If I can obtain something scarce and give it to you, it's basically a proof of my feelings towards you.
As part of reaching a post-scarcity society (for some useful definition of post-scarcity that doesn't imply infinite resources required) we will have to find another way of proving our feelings. The most obvious candidate for me would be some kind of direct mind-to-mind connection. If you can directly feel the depth of my love and commitment towards you then I have no need to prove it by spending costly and non-replaceable resources to obtain something scarce - whether that scarcity is real or artificial.
So... "how we get there" is going to be through lots of little cases like that, where society tries to preserve what little value is left in commodities, sometimes succeeding and sometimes flopping. Look at the ad industry, trying to get us to spend extra money on things that are free (bottled water koff koff), and often succeeding. (It is irrelevant that some places have drought - the ads work even where there is plenty of water). People may not want to pay for things, but they want things to pay for.
That is what we have to go through to the other side of in order to reach a "post scarcity society".
Agreed. You make interesting points. Perhaps ones that doesn't resonate with me because I am atypically uninterested in consumerism and so on. The things I obtain serve a direct purpose like direct enjoyment - not meta purposes like 'improving my status' or 'flaunting my success'.
My hope is that once people can command their own solar systems with the same degree of reality as this world then perhaps such urges will be satiated - especially if we can genetically engineer out our baser motivations or otherwise satisfy our less helpful urges by direct manipulation of our own neurotransmitter levels. But if all that fails maybe a desire to be 'king of the real world' will remain.
People suck. I for one am ready to merge with our AI overlords.