I am all for technological innovation and development – that is a given.
I am all for having individual life, and individual liberty, of all self aware sapient entities as our highest values – human and non-human, biological and non-biological.
What concerns me is the context within which that development proceeds.
The age we are entering is unlike anything that has gone before.
In past ages of change, we supplemented human labour with external forms of power – animals, water, steam, electricity. That process allowed for several things to happen. In manufacture there was a move to specialisation at ever finer levels. That continues.
What we have now is a move by automation into the realms of intelligence.
That process is on a double exponential curve.
Our dominant system of markets – of capital and labour, rely on people being able to find work that makes enough money to live.
Markets rely on scarcity to generate value.
We are rapidly approaching an age where machines will be able to do anything a human can do, and do so much cheaper.
As more and more people face permanent unemployment, they will be unable to access the potential abundance that is available to those with money. As more people start to realise that such unemployment and the poverty and misery that go with it are a structural feature of market based systems, there will be a lack of security for all.
We are rapidly approaching the ability to extend life indefinitely from a biological perspective.
Once we reverse age related mortality – so that the older one is, the longer one is likely to live, then the use of markets becomes a high risk option for those who are potentially very long lived (which is arguably going to be all of us).
So to deliver the sort of security that will allow any of us to live a very long time, requires that we develop automated systems that will deliver that sort of security to everyone. Every other strategy I have investigated is prone to major instabilities and high risk outcomes.
So going past markets as a dominant organising principle becomes simply a matter of long term self interest.
Exactly how and when we do that is very important -and it needs to be soon. There are some serious instabilities in current systems – physical, social and technical. We have alternatives, and we need to start progressing them – with serious directed effort.