[ 11/January/22 Cartoon on Chrys Horn’s facebook page:
a series of drawings of a dad talking to a kid:
80s – Pick up you litter and save the Earth!
90s – recycle and save the Earth!
00s – reduce your carbon footprint and you can save the Earth!
10s – completely restructure global economic systems and you may be able to save a remnant of humanity!]
It’s not on the kids.
It is up to us.
It is the money creation aspect of our existing economic systems that needs to be fundamentally changed – the rest can be workable.
There needs to be acceptance of something like a universal dividend on the accumulated technological and social commons that actually makes any and all innovation possible. Everyone needs a high basic income – as of right, if the money system is ever going to work. With the advanced automation available today, that is actually quite easy to deliver.
Markets only deliver a reasonable proxy for human value generally if everyone engaged in them has sufficient money to be well up the Maslow hierarchy of needs. If some people are arbitraging survival against someone else’s experimentation in ethics then markets fail in ways that deliver existential level risk. That is the bit that those in charge of the structure of existing systems need to “get” (to me it is just obvious, but I have been looking at the maths of evolutionary strategy for 50 years as an autistic geek – so what is “obvious” to me can be deeply mysterious to most).
We do not need to have everyone having the same – perfectly possible to have some people with vastly more than others, provided that everyone has sufficiency and security and freedom. That is doable, it does require fundamental change to existing systems, and it is not something for the kids, it is something we all need to appreciate and those at the top of the existing structures need to act upon.
Automation and AI is able to make it happen. We no longer need human slavery at any level (most are effectively economic slaves under the current systems). There are plenty of geeks like me that actually like making systems do what they need to do, and once created such systems are easily replicated in todays world of advanced automation.
So the cartoon is kind of real, and kind of not.
We can have a world where all get to live in security and abundance, and we have healthy ecosystems, and doing so does demand that everyone accepts that they have responsibilities in both social and ecological contexts. Liberty without responsibility is necessarily self destructive. And there are necessary uncertainties about what responsibility looks like in any particular context – necessarily – all levels – and that requires the deepest levels of respect and responsibility from all of us (to the best of our limited and fallible abilities).
If we all do that, then it will be enough, even with all the mistakes that must necessarily happen.