Can Technology Contribute to Social Equality?
It seems to me the question is based upon invalid assumptions.
Why would anyone want to be equal with everyone else?
What is interesting about sameness?
Isn’t a much more powerful question:
“Can technology be used to provide a platform that enables every individual to explore and develop in whatever manner they responsibly choose (where responsibility in this sense means taking appropriate care not to unduly endanger the lives and liberties of all other sapient entities)?”
The answer to that question seems to be clearly yes.
That answer to that question then leads on to the next question which is:
Can the current set of social systems built around the principles of market capitalism form a stable platform for the system above?
The answer to that question seems to be No. Markets are fundamentally based in the notion of scarcity and cannot deal with universal abundance of anything except by valuing it at zero.
How do we transition?
Constraints: safety, speed.
I have given this topic a lot of thought over the last 41 years; and I really question the use of the term equality, at any level.
I think what most of us mean when we use the term equality is that everyone have an abundance of what they need – which is a very different thing from equality.
It seems to me, that when we frame the discussion in this way, and leave out all reference to equality, then it enrols a lot more people.
I would like to see the whole concept of employment become redundant – with everyone just doing whatever it is that genuinely interests them – at whatever level of contribution that happens to be.
With adequate levels of automation, that is a relatively simple outcome to organise.
The tricky bit is generating the transition between mindsets.
A lot of truth in that, and it is a very different thing from everyone being equal.
We are all different.
Embrace and celebrate the difference.
Your formulation comes much closer, yet something in the intuitive system that is me still rebels at the use of equality. Perhaps it is 40 years of programming computers, perhaps 50 years of interest in how biological systems actually work, the many layers of systems that have evolved.
Rather than equality, what people seem to actually want and need are the resources and the freedom to do whatever they responsibly choose (and I get there are a lot of grey areas in that statement, and that greyness seems to be a necessary part of free choice, which requires an ever expanding ever evolving tolerance from everyone).
To me, the notion of equality, at any level, holds the implicit dangers of some sort of “big brother” enforced systemic sameness at some level. With the probable evolution of AI rapidly approaching I am very conscious of such dangers.
For me, the issue is the contexts that people use to frame their understandings.
We all accept implicitly most of the assumptions of our particular cultures, and most cultures have many active strategies to discourage the questioning of many of those assumptions.
It seems to me, that it is only when an individual is prepared to take that (huge) step beyond social agreement, and question the very founding assumptions of understanding and social cohesion, that the root causes (in a strategic sense) of our current techno-social reality become exposed. It is a very difficult path for many – particularly those who still believe in the notion of truth (or more correctly that one can be absolutely certain that one understands or apprehends some set of truths).
I’ve had a bit of experience with “advanced healthcare” over the last 8 years. My medical insurance gave me access to the best of private healthcare when I had my cancer diagnosis. The surgeon was a master of his craft, and the scars are almost invisible, but he was deaf to my exhortations to take only the minimum of tissue around the tumours, and I lost most of my salivary glands, the left side of my face, the SCM muscle complex on the left side of my neck and shoulder, and most of the outer sheath of neck muscles on my left side. After several sets of operations, I was sent home “palliative care only”, and told there was nothing known to medical science that could extend the probability of my survival – given as “could be dead in 6 weeks, a 50% chance of living 5 months and a 2% chance of living 2 years”.
When I started researching, there is a lot known to medical science that could vastly reduce the incidence of cancer, heart disease diabetes, and most diseases of modern society, but there is no economic incentive to do so, and much economic incentive to bury and obfuscate that information. ( See https://tedhowardnz.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/my-cancer-talk-i-gave-at-the-kaikoura-health-day/ a presentation I gave in May 2015.)
A minimum dietary level of Vitamin C should be about 10g per person per day, rising to over 200g in cases of many diseases. Supplementation is essential in today’s world.
Diets need to have less than 10% of total calories coming from animal products and at least 50% of calories coming from raw foods grown in soils with a full range of mineral and biological nutrients.
Once I actually got the studies, debunked the so called proofs against them, and adopted those recommendations, I have been tumour free for over 4 years, and possibly healthier than at any time in my life – no colds or flus or any of the other things that those around me are going down with. I am missing the muscles and many nerves on the left side of my face and neck, which causes many ongoing issues – my glottis no longer closes completely consistently, so a bit of coughing and spluttering occasionally (thanks to advanced medical science) – but otherwise – really healthy.
It is the incentives of the market place that drive us towards foods with long shelf life that are as sterile as possible, as profitable as possible, and as centralised as possible (to extract monopoly rents), that are the major cause of ill health in our society.
Sure some things do require genuine high tech healthcare, but not actually very many. High dose vitamin C and a healthy varied diet and a reasonable exercise regime will keep most people healthy. Our existing healthcare system could easily deal with the rest. And sure, we can always improve healthcare, and will do so.
I make the explicit and very strong claim that market based thinking causes far more healthcare problems than it solves. The health industry is more accurately characterised as the sickness industry. Profits are made by finding drugs that people need to keep on taking – not actually eradicating disease (no profit in that).
It is a strange strange world we live in master ……