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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Society Of Tomorrow

The Society Of Tomorrow

Alexander Gordon Jahans

So Post Scarcity is the future, all robots and genetic manipulation, but how do we get there? We can see the signs: The destruction of the neoliberal elite, the increasing prevalence and financial viability of automation and the increasing power and threat of genetic manipulation technology. There is however a very obvious resistance to the idea and there are undoubtedly hurdles to overcome. The political elites may be under attack but they are fighting back and in some areas they are winning.

Except when people talk about post scarcity they talk about this idea of the singularity. The idea that the moment we create an AI which is smarter than ourselves and is itself capable of creating an AI that is smarter than itself then society will pass a point of no return when exponential AI improvement could make us as gods or wipe us all out in an afternoon, possibly both. I however posit a closer, more real singularity. The Capitalistic Singularity.

Imagine for a moment that we created a black hole by accident in the LHC for example? To begin with it would be almost impossible to detect, smaller than even a single particle, except overtime subatomic particles would be fired into it and it would grow slowly increasing in mass until first individual particles then molecules and motes of dust would become locked in its field. The singularity moment is not the black hole existing or even the black hole growing, it is the moment the black hole becomes large enough that its growth is self sustaining and destructive.

It is my belief that The Capitalistic Singularity is approaching. I know communists and socialists who believe capitalism can be held back, that global monopolies can be broken apart and the 1% drained of their resources. I hope they are right but if I'm right it won't do a damned thing to stop The Capitalistic Singularity. We are fast approaching the point that any attempt to bust monopolies and strengthen unions and the minimum wage will only incentivise the shedding of workers in favour of AI, robots and general automation. I don't say that as a criticism of improving the minimum wage. I am in favour of a society that has as few working people as possible so long as it provides for those that don't have jobs.

The problem is that a capitalistic society is a society that privileges the rich and the rich are quite naturally the very people who will be disinclined to support a majority not working population through high taxes, especially since they can only be rich by having jobs to work at. They have the power to influence governments and media companies to ensure policies favour them and not the majority of not working people.

America is basically fucked and Britain isn't going to fair much better but we do have hope. Crowd funding can allow the majority of the poor to influence politics on a monetary level perhaps equal to that of the 1%. There is a chance, there is hope, that the majority not working population could seize power and institute a Universal Basic Income, even if it is through the right wing and even the xenophobes. I am not going to do the dreadful algebra but it is a fact that grumpy old men tend to be those in power and that grumpy old men tend to find the burgeoning social justice of the 21st century abhorrent. Since the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, perhaps the dreadful algebra works out in favour of sacrificing a minority before the elite to safeguard the majority? Though admittedly that is a very easy question for a cis white man to pose.

We face hard times even if we do manage to bring about actual democracy and seize control of our governments however. The Capitalistic Singularity will not be stopped even by socialist governments, only safely controlled.

Socialists and communists have this phrase: Seize the means of production.
Except you can't, neoliberal globalism has ensured that. There are no means of production left to seize and even if you did the money and the power would just go elsewhere. All the ways working people used to fight back have no effect anymore. The American right are utterly pathetic in their love of guns. Now alright I will hold my hand up and admit that yes in an age of 3d printers, drone delivery and the internet, it is getting easier and easier to make a gun or get hold of one. This is partly why terrorism will never fully go away. Except we live in a world of drone bombers, cctv and constant surveillance. You may be able to murder a load of innocent people with ease but if you ever dare attempt to march on government you will be stopped, very fucking easily. Unless of course you are the military of that government but thanks to globalism that victory will be very short lived because it is not in the interest of any government to allow military coups.

The only, I repeat, only way a violent revolution could actually succeed now is if multiple military coups were pulled off simultaneously in multiple members of the UN so as to cripple the response. And good luck organising that when every country is spying on the internet.

So what do we do then? How do we survive The Capitalistic Singularity? Very simply. We don't "seize" the means of production. We buy it. Capitalism is not some global conspiracy orchestrated by The Man to stamp on the poor, it is rather a play written by a bunch of monkeys. As such there has been no thought put into actually stopping the poor simply buying the very machines governments and corporations use to run society. Now admittedly the poor are usually typified by their lack of funds which rather puts the kibosh on any attempts by an individual to buy themselves out of suffering but remember crowd funding exists and as technology improves so it will be cheaper to buy.

As The Capitalistic Singularity accelerates communism and socialism can set up societies in parallel at the same time. Crops that have been genetically engineered to be hardy and easy to grow can be bought and used to sustain parallel economies. Chickens and goats can be fed on those crops for a ready supply of eggs, milk and cheese. Hydroponic farms can be combined with fish farms if that's your jam and sheep can be kept for a supply of wool.

If you have food you can survive but once you can survive then you can utilise the resources of modern society. My ex has shown me that it is possible to build working computers from scrap if you know what you're doing and if you can get computers you can build servers, you can build an intranet then sync it up to the wider internet through free wifi hotspots. Powering such a set up is very possible in an age of home wind turbines, solar panels and even exercise bike electricity generation.

With food and internet a small society can function off the grid but still make money from it with which to keep the society functioning and potentially grow it.  Oh as far as capitalism is concerned these societies will still be part of the system but they need not be trapped by it. Ironically the beauty of The Capitalistic Singularity is that it leaves people who can work without jobs, thus allowing such parallel economies to have fit workers.

And once parallel economies are set up to shelter those who can't get jobs capitalism can accelerate safely and those with the most incentive to vote for socialism will be more likely to stick around to vote.

The future of society is not a centralised global network of technology. It is a Capitalistic core that is slowly eating itself as it accelerates technology with a decentralised network of communities with different political affiliations orbiting the outside. There will always be a government and there will always be capitalism because at a large enough scale there will always be material scarcity. In the future this is what will drive colonial expansion into space, the quest for new resources to keep capitalism churning and government relevant.  Post scarcity will happen on the outskirts to the societies who stand apart from the central governments and corporations.

Or at least I think this is how I think we get there.