Converting to Post Scarcity

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Tyndmyr
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:36 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:I know SQL. Need any SQL coders?


Java appears to be the best skill in terms of effort/demand ratio, but SQL is in common use pretty much anywhere there's a tech industry. This is especially true if you're familiar enough with a given database to bill yourself as a DBA.

As for resistance, well, cost resistance is normal. It takes a while for prices to fall, but cruise control has been around long enough to become pervasive and normal. I wouldn't be surprised if other elements follow the same path. It's a slow path, and a piecemeal one, to be sure, but in time, they'll be no stranger than an automatic transmission. There'll be a few who see it as somehow inferior to doing things themselves, but there'll be a gradual transition.

wumpus
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby wumpus » Fri Sep 26, 2014 2:09 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:The human driver takes their life in their hands, and the survival is based on their own skill or incompetence, and we tend to mind less when someone's death is caused by their own incompetence rather than pure chance.


As far as I know*, experienced pilots have roughly the same issues as non-pilots flying commercial. Its all mainly about someone else being behind the stick.

The real drivers (oops) for autonomous cars are ageing boomers (who probably will demand that their driverless car has a steering wheel) and soccer moms (who would love for the car to take the kid according to a set program). It will also be a boon to bars/restaurants (who would love to fill up their customers without lawsuit fears, and get new, more responsible customers at the bar), but this will be wiped out and then some by MADD and other neo-prohibitionists fighting for the status quo.

After I write this, I will be driving down (pretty much the whole way) I270 in Maryland. I know that regardless of how well I drive, there will be plenty of people who absolutely insist on driving 2 feet off my bumper, driving 80 in heavy 70mph traffic (the speed limit is 55), and generally trying to cause a crash. My remarkably clean driving record requires a great deal of luck as well as actually *looking* and *anticipating* (something that seems beyond my fellow Marylanders).

* read a single factoid somewhere. Wouldn't be surprised if it was only a small correlation.

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LaserGuy
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Sep 26, 2014 3:32 pm UTC

I think self-driving cars will become more of an inevitability as the Boomers get older. It's a big demographic, they're, on average, quite wealthy, and they've lived their entire lives immersed in car culture, at least in the United States. I have to imagine that as it becomes increasingly difficult for them to drive due to aging-related problems, there's going to be a big incentive to get something on the road that they can use to get around. The earliest Boomers are 72, so it's not that far off. Ten or fifteen years, maybe.

Tyndmyr
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 26, 2014 3:36 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:After I write this, I will be driving down (pretty much the whole way) I270 in Maryland. I know that regardless of how well I drive, there will be plenty of people who absolutely insist on driving 2 feet off my bumper, driving 80 in heavy 70mph traffic (the speed limit is 55), and generally trying to cause a crash. My remarkably clean driving record requires a great deal of luck as well as actually *looking* and *anticipating* (something that seems beyond my fellow Marylanders).


Best wishes. That whole area is particularly abysmal and filled with mad drivers. I spent a decent chunk of yesterday following someone who, in addition to the traditional erratic speed and complete lack of blinker usage, had the greatest of difficulty in staying in any given lane, and seemed utterly unaware of what traffic lights were for.

I long for the day when we can at least displace those drivers with robuts.

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clarkbhm
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby clarkbhm » Sat Oct 04, 2014 5:00 am UTC

Just an overall thought on scarcity--there are two resources that will continue to be scarce. And even though I'm not a big Apple fan, I'm going to use Steve Jobs as an example.

The first is the value of certain human capital traits. We only had one Steve Jobs. The vision that he created was somewhat unique. He understood good design concepts and worked to bring those designs to the masses. Since his death, Apple simply hasn't had the same leadership of design that they previously had. That is scarcity in action. There was only one Steve Jobs.

The other resource that will continue to be scarce is time. Generally, you're going to have a limited amount of "good" years available to you in order to accomplish whatever it is you want to do before you die. Steve Jobs died at 56, lower than the average age at death. He had a personal scarcity that he wasn't able to live longer, which creates a more global scarcity that Apple and the world will not benefit from whatever mind-interface iPhone technology that he might have worked towards when he was 76.

Put it this way, put 100 people in a room with equal resources and tell them to live their lives. Even if everyone has the same skill sets, they are biologically different. They have different motivation levels, different ways of seeing the world, etc. Eventually, a few of them are going to have such a different mindset that the others will pay them for their work and insight. They will become the wealth members of that society, but society will be better off because of their insight.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby elasto » Sat Oct 04, 2014 2:10 pm UTC

clarkbhm wrote:Just an overall thought on scarcity--there are two resources that will continue to be scarce. And even though I'm not a big Apple fan, I'm going to use Steve Jobs as an example.

The first is the value of certain human capital traits. We only had one Steve Jobs. The vision that he created was somewhat unique. He understood good design concepts and worked to bring those designs to the masses. Since his death, Apple simply hasn't had the same leadership of design that they previously had. That is scarcity in action. There was only one Steve Jobs.

The other resource that will continue to be scarce is time. Generally, you're going to have a limited amount of "good" years available to you in order to accomplish whatever it is you want to do before you die. Steve Jobs died at 56, lower than the average age at death. He had a personal scarcity that he wasn't able to live longer, which creates a more global scarcity that Apple and the world will not benefit from whatever mind-interface iPhone technology that he might have worked towards when he was 76.

Put it this way, put 100 people in a room with equal resources and tell them to live their lives. Even if everyone has the same skill sets, they are biologically different. They have different motivation levels, different ways of seeing the world, etc. Eventually, a few of them are going to have such a different mindset that the others will pay them for their work and insight. They will become the wealth members of that society, but society will be better off because of their insight.


I think there's a whole lot of assumptions in that line of thought which are problematic. If we are post-scarcity we've probably also defeated mortality. On the offchance we haven't (or even if we have) we can probably upload personalities into AI - which means we can clone as many Steve Jobs as we like. There's not likely to be something magical about physical neurons that can't be replicated in their digital equivalents after all. It also rather arrogantly assumes that human intelligence and creativity is as good as it gets and that AI will never independently surpass us. Maybe there'll eventually be a $10 phone with an IQ that would leave Einstein let alone Jobs floundering in the dirt.

Finally, even if none of that comes about, in a post-scarcity world others aren't going to 'pay them for their work and insight' because by definition there's nothing they can pay them with that they can't already receive as much as they want of for free. They'll be famous perhaps - as much as that's really meaningful in a world where you can get as much dopamine/endorphin/oxytocin (ie pleasure/satisfaction/happiness) as you wish on demand - but they won't 'become the wealth members of society' because by definition in this scenario there's no limit to how wealthy even the lowliest and most ordinary member of society can become.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby ucim » Sat Oct 04, 2014 3:19 pm UTC

elasto wrote:If we are post-scarcity we've probably also defeated mortality.
I don't see any connection here... especially this "upload personalities" thing.
Spoiler:
And in any case, whatever gets uploaded on my behalf isn't me. It's a copy of me, having its own experiences. Whether that copy has the same thoughts about (the original) me is irrelevant - each one of us is not the other.
elasto wrote:Finally, even if none of that comes about, in a post-scarcity world others aren't going to 'pay them for their work and insight' because by definition there's nothing they can pay them with that they can't already receive as much as they want of for free.
... which is why post-scarcity (defined in that manner) will never come about. You are equating "post scarcity" with "post-desire", and a world in which there is nothing to desire is never going to happen, besides it being the opposite of utopia.

So long as there is something that people want, even if it is abstract (such as "I want that girl to like being with me"), there will be a way to "pay" for something.
Spoiler:
In the example given, "How can I get that girl to like being with me?" (which requires advice) represents at the very least a scarcity of information or attribute, which is especially acute if everyone is "equally attractive". It's like asking a clone how to become unique, in a way that other clones could not.
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby elasto » Sat Oct 04, 2014 8:18 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
elasto wrote:If we are post-scarcity we've probably also defeated mortality.
I don't see any connection here... especially this "upload personalities" thing.


Well, all I mean is that I think mortality is an easier problem to crack than forming a post-scarcity society. I think both are too hard for humans to crack alone, but fortunately I think hard AI will come about in the next century or so. Once it does, mortality and post-scarcity are hopefully the kind of things it will be able to work on on our behalf.

Spoiler:
And in any case, whatever gets uploaded on my behalf isn't me. It's a copy of me, having its own experiences. Whether that copy has the same thoughts about (the original) me is irrelevant - each one of us is not the other.


So what? The point was there'd be 'an alleged scarcity of Steve Jobs's'. If you've got an uploaded Steve Jobs in your phone do you really care it's 'not the original' but 'only a copy'?

Anyhow, as I say, in a century or two I think a mere clone of a human intelligence will be weak-sauce compared to a native AI. Noone will care that there's 'only one real Steve Jobs' if they have something 10x as smart and creative in their back pocket. And unless you think there's something magical about physical neurons there's no reason that digit equivalents won't achieve that.

... which is why post-scarcity (defined in that manner) will never come about. You are equating "post scarcity" with "post-desire", and a world in which there is nothing to desire is never going to happen, besides it being the opposite of utopia.

So long as there is something that people want, even if it is abstract (such as "I want that girl to like being with me"), there will be a way to "pay" for something.

I've already addressed this from my point of view: If I'm living in a VR where I can obtain anything I can think of - including my own spaceship with the girl of my dreams as co-pilot - then I think it will be both 'post-scarcity' and 'post-desire' in every sense that matters.

Think of The Matrix - sensory input indistinguishable from the real world - and controlled by a benevolent AI/God.

Fantasy? Maybe. But remember that the assumption in this thread is that post-scarcity is possible, so I'm trying to think of the most reasonable/plausible circumstances that could have brought it into being. For me a perfect VR is the prime candidate.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby ucim » Sat Oct 04, 2014 8:52 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Anyhow, as I say, in a century or two I think a mere clone of a human intelligence will be weak-sauce compared to a native AI.
Agreed, but we will be irrelevant to that AI. It has no reason to care about us. We will be flies to it.
Spoiler:
Actually, we will be more like toenails and guts to it; I think this AI is emerging right now as the computer networks we created and rely on interconnect. I have no idea what it is "thinking" as it gestates, and I'm sure none of us ever will be able to even comprehend what "thinking" means to it.

Post-scarcity will be bypassed in favor of people (and the networked computers they depend on) being managed through the environment they live in, by the autonomous functions of this emerging entity. We will still want - this is essential to getting us to do what is useful to the entity in the same way that exercise makes the muscles "want" (and thus get stronger) so that we can ride a bicycle up the mountain. We don't really care what our muscles "want", it is the combination of guts, muscles, liver, brain, beerbelly, and fingernails that make up a person that "wants" to ride the bicycle. The muscles have no choice in the matter.

In the same sense, we will be trapped as muscles (or toenails) in this emerging entity we have become a part of. We, as individuals, will have no choice in the matter.
elasto wrote:If you've got an uploaded Steve Jobs in your phone do you really care it's 'not the original' but 'only a copy'?
Why do you think an uploaded Steve Jobs would do your bidding?

elasto wrote:Think of The Matrix - sensory input indistinguishable from the real world - and controlled by a benevolent AI/God.
Think of being controlled by an AI with heartbleed AND shellshock. What could go wrong?

elasto wrote:But remember that the assumption in this thread is that post-scarcity is possible, so I'm trying to think of the most reasonable/plausible circumstances that could have brought it into being. For me a perfect VR is the prime candidate.
Fair enough.

But is it? Remember what hell is to a golfer.
Spoiler:
A guaranteed hole-in-one on every shot
I think you need to re-think your definition of "post scarcity", paying special attention to what it would be like to live there for the rest of your life, before you start thinking about how it might have come about. Are you really saying that you're ok with VR friends you can download from an app? Because if you are, I think you're missing something, and if you're not, that's something that will be non-scarce by its nature.

Jose
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby elasto » Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:06 am UTC

ucim wrote:Agreed, but we will be irrelevant to that AI. It has no reason to care about us. We will be flies to it.

But then post-scarcity will not have come about... Remember all my thoughts here are predicated on this thread's assumption of humanity continuing to exist and the existence of a post-scarcity society.

Personally I don't think that is a very probable outcome: I think much more likely is us merging with the AI fairly early on and ceasing to exist as flesh and blood creatures just like Neanderthals live on through having 'merged' with us.

Why do you think an uploaded Steve Jobs would do your bidding?

Doesn't matter if he does or doesn't. The point is that in this scenario there is no scarcity of Steve Jobs's, not that they are any different to the original.

If you want to refine it as 'there'd still be a scarcity of Steve Jobs's who will do your bidding' then we could modify the cloned Steve Jobs's to experience pleasure when they do your bidding and be utterly and irrevocably in love with you. That might be ethically dubious but it doesn't matter since that's not my real argument. My real argument is that a scarcity of Steve Jobs's is not important because AI will outstrip humanity in every possible aspect and there'll be no shortage of AI.

But is it? Remember what hell is to a golfer: A guaranteed hole-in-one on every shot

Then why would I create a heaven for myself where I get a hole-in-one every shot? Why wouldn't I create a universe for myself where it's as difficult to get a hole-in-one as I wish. The idea of post-scarcity is that I can have anything I want - eg. a golf course all to myself. If you're going to argue that post-scarcity universe could be boring - well maybe you're right. Again, that's a fairly tangential issue. Personally I don't think that's true because how can you be bored if you can control your own neurotransmitter levels? You could give yourself a permanent euphoria if you wish.

I think you need to re-think your definition of "post scarcity", paying special attention to what it would be like to live there for the rest of your life, before you start thinking about how it might have come about. Are you really saying that you're ok with VR friends you can download from an app? Because if you are, I think you're missing something, and if you're not, that's something that will be non-scarce by its nature.

I think you need to think about how a VR friend who is conscious and sentient and has the same degree of free-will as you and me* actually differs in any significant way from a flesh and blood friend.

(*That is to say he may not have any free-will but you and I probably don't have any either. But we do in all senses that are meaningful and there's no reason a digital version would differ.)

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby ucim » Sun Oct 05, 2014 3:18 am UTC

elasto wrote:Then why would I create a heaven for myself where I get a hole-in-one every shot? Why wouldn't I create a universe for myself where it's as difficult to get a hole-in-one as I wish.
... in other words, create a scarcity of hole-in-ones?
Spoiler:
or holes-in-one
elasto wrote:...you can control your own neurotransmitter levels? You could give yourself a permanent euphoria if you wish.
Sounds like cocaine. If that were cheap and legal, would that count as post-scarcity for the person taking it?

elasto wrote:I think you need to think about how a VR friend who is conscious and sentient and has the same degree of free-will as you and me* actually differs in any significant way from a flesh and blood friend.
It differs in that they can choose to not be around me when I want them. They can make themselves scarce, just like a real friend, and that defeats the purpose. And this is the real point. All this talk of post-scarcity is really feasible for only certain kinds of goods. This will not obviate the usefulness of trade, and therefore a medium of exchange. If we can get past the idea that "money will be meaningless" then we might have something. The economy will look different certainly, but there will be one.

In this somewhat more limited version of post-scarcity, there are parallels in the present day. Software and media is arguably getting close to post-scarcity. What is the response of society to that? Why would society's response to more general post-scarcity be any different?

Why do the DeBeers hoard diamonds?

Jose
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby elasto » Sun Oct 05, 2014 4:02 am UTC

ucim wrote:... in other words, create a scarcity of hole-in-ones?


Um... The point of post-scarcity is simply that I can have anything I want. What people want will obviously differ, but so long as there's no limit then we're in a post-scarcity world.

You're veering off into semantics - similar to 'can God be all-powerful if he can't create a rock that he can't lift?' All-powerful only means God can do anything that can be done, not that he can do logically nonsensical things.

A post-scarcity world merely means if I want a hole-in-one every time I can have it, and if I want to have to learn to play golf 'normally' I can have that too. Any other definition just isn't useful.

Sounds like cocaine. If that were cheap and legal, would that count as post-scarcity for the person taking it?

No. Currently brains adjust to drugs. There is tolerance, withdrawal, and a physiological limit to how high a person can get before they die. In the future - and especially for conscious digital entities - such limitations will be removed for all practical purposes.

It differs in that they can choose to not be around me when I want them.

Yes, and I could have some digital friends who I permit that to be the case for. Like with the golf example - post-scarcity merely means I can choose to have digital friends who can choose not to be around me and digital 'aquaintances' (or slaves) for whom I do not permit that choice - and I can have all these relationships in any ratio I desire.

In this somewhat more limited version of post-scarcity, there are parallels in the present day. Software and media is arguably getting close to post-scarcity. What is the response of society to that? Why would society's response to more general post-scarcity be any different?

They're nothing close to post-scarcity yet. It will be much closer to post-scarcity when I have a personal AI who can create software and media better than any human could make - on demand and at no cost.

Even that won't quite be it though. There is no limit to how creative and intelligent an AI could become, so we'll never be post-scarce in that sense. Unless the universe is infinite in size and duration then we will run up against a scarcity of low entropy in the end.

But, again, that's largely semantics. Post-scarcity is a process more than an end point - it's more about always being able to get what we want - even if what we want then expands as a result (first we want a house to ourselves, then a city, then a country, then a world, then a galaxy, then a universe, then many universes).

That's why I think that kind of post-scarcity is more likely to come about in a personal VR. A VR could give us our own personal universe by compressing the parts we are not interacting within order to save processing power. Our own universe probably doesn't work like that.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby morriswalters » Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:49 pm UTC

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. The question I suppose then is can a society like that continue to advance or would physical stasis end in intellectual stasis?

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby ucim » Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:57 pm UTC

elasto wrote:You're veering off into semantics - similar to 'can God be all-powerful if he can't create a rock that he can't lift?' All-powerful only means God can do anything that can be done, not that he can do logically nonsensical things.
Yes, and the semantics define the thing we're talking about. That's important.

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".

Internet and phone access is getting to be post-scarcity too in many places. There's a word for this: "commodity item".
Spoiler:
Ok, that's not quite what it means, but it's close enough to derive insight.
Take a look at what society's reaction to the ability to have "as much as you want' of something has actually been been and you'll see what we might expect if "real" post scarcity starts to crop up.

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".

Jose
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby elasto » Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:42 am UTC

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.

Agreed.

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.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby ucim » Mon Oct 06, 2014 5:04 am UTC

elasto wrote:any advancement we could make would be insignificant compared to the scientific and other advancements an independent AI will be making on our behalf.
It's the "on our behalf" part I have trouble with. We are more intelligent than cows, buffalo, dodo birds, and mosquitos. What have we done for them?

elasto wrote:First, I don't really agree software is approaching post-scarcity. Unless I pirate...
But the reason is that scarcety is enforced by copyright laws. Once the program is written, zillions of copies can be made for next to nothing. Yet for some reason the copyright holders demand that scarcity be artificially maintained.

elasto wrote: If I can obtain something scarce and give it to you, it's basically a proof of my feelings towards you. [...] 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.
It's a "proof" not only to the recipient, but also to the giver. It's a barrier whose crossing tests the resolve of the giver even at the point where the decision is made. It helps make the decision by making concrete something that is otherwise abstract. It's easy to say what I would give to you (or do for you), if I don't actually have to do it!

Jose
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby elasto » Mon Oct 06, 2014 7:26 am UTC

ucim wrote:It's the "on our behalf" part I have trouble with. We are more intelligent than cows, buffalo, dodo birds, and mosquitos. What have we done for them?

If you're asking me what I think the future most likely entails, I think we are likely to go extinct, supplanted by our own creation.

But this thread is about a post-scarcity human society, and I think the most likely way that will come about is guided by a benevolent god-like AI. That doesn't imply I think a benevolent god-like AI is likely though.

However, it's not impossible an AI might view us rather like pets. So maybe we'll thrive - rather like dogs and cats have done pretty well under our wing. It's a fallacy to think an advanced AI couldn't/wouldn't have emotions after all - even ones like love. In fact having such emotions is probably one of the things that would mark it out as advanced.

But the reason is that scarcety is enforced by copyright laws. Once the program is written, zillions of copies can be made for next to nothing. Yet for some reason the copyright holders demand that scarcity be artificially maintained.

Can't have it both ways. An artificial scarcity is still a scarcity so it's not a post-scarcity situation.

The reason we enforce an artificial scarcity is because the things programmers need to survive like food, housing etc. are not post-scarce yet, so we need to allow them to pursue a living.

That means we can likely conclude that a post-scarcity society is likely to come via a bang - via revolution not evolution - when there's a critical mass of almost post-scarce resources - and the barriers collapse like a house of cards.

But I agree that anything that is purely information-based - like music, software etc. - is likely to be the first to fall - and in some cases have already fallen. For example Wikipedia has essentially rendered encyclopaedias as post-scarce. Physical stuff won't go the same way until we have super-cheap home 3d printing.

It's a "proof" not only to the recipient, but also to the giver. It's a barrier whose crossing tests the resolve of the giver even at the point where the decision is made. It helps make the decision by making concrete something that is otherwise abstract. It's easy to say what I would give to you (or do for you), if I don't actually have to do it!

Well, if we have direct mind-to-mind connections we probably also have machines that can measure levels of hormones. Your iWatchv50 will probably have an app to gauge how in love you are much more accurately than you can judge for yourself...

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby leady » Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:38 am UTC

If we are going to try to discuss this stuff then lets at least be accurate

Internet and phone access is getting to be post-scarcity too in many places. There's a word for this: "commodity item".


A commodity item is so far from post scarcity that its use in this manner is well very very wrong. It means that it has collapsed to its minimal price with little differential between suppliers - but there is a real and actually price that is very very far from zero.

For example Wikipedia has essentially rendered encyclopaedias as post-scarce. Physical stuff won't go the same way until we have super-cheap home 3d printing.


Wikipedia is not post scarcity either. The cost of wikipedia is immense, but its just bourne by a smaller proportion of people in either providing donations or articles. The incremental cost of another wikipedia user is very low, but the actual cost of wikipedia as a whole I imagine is huge

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby ucim » Mon Oct 06, 2014 3:29 pm UTC

Ok, "commodity" is the wrong term; I used it based on the transition of many modern goods into commodity items as the price came from the bleeding edge, down to a level where pretty much anybody could get one. No, not to zero, but to pretty low, and while "pretty low" is not zero, it is low enough to trigger some market defenses which give insight as to how society might deal with the threat of the price going to zero.

And although the cost to produce wikipedia may be huge, as far as the consumer is concerned, it behaves in a similar enough manner to a post-scarcity product to generate some insight.

eta:
elasto wrote:The reason we enforce an artificial scarcity is because the things programmers need to survive like food, housing etc. are not post-scarce yet, so we need to allow them to pursue a living.

That means we can likely conclude that a post-scarcity society is likely to come via a bang - via revolution not evolution - when there's a critical mass of almost post-scarce resources - and the barriers collapse like a house of cards.
I would not conclude that. The things programmers need to survive could gradually become cheaper, to the point of no longer being very scarce. This would reduce pressure (from this source) to keep programs scarce.

Phone apps are not scarce. Of course you can make a valid argument that they are not products but tricks to steal your contact info, thus causing a cost you are not aware of until too late. This brings up another thing - personal info is already becoming quite valuable. In your scenario, will people be able to keep their info private (and thus scarce)?

Jose
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby morriswalters » Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:46 pm UTC

You wouldn't have to recreate the whole Universe and I doubt that you could compress experience more than your brain already does And the required energy doesn't have to be infinite, it just has to be greater than that which is available to us now. Assuming the world doesn't just fade away the body would still need to be maintained, supplied with food, kept warm and so on. Minerals mined to replace the stuff that breaks, since recycling can't recover everything. The physical world would continue. A VR world is just another layer and the underlying resources needed to maintain it are purely additive. Still constrained by local resources. On the other hand if you could effectively constrain the population of human society than we could explore the universe by either taking our planet with us or by constructing long duration vessels to visit the Universe at sublight speeds. The AI constrained to the ships as tools(as a non sentient tool).


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