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comment by FirebrandRoaring
FirebrandRoaring  ·  64 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Automation may bring the realisation that we're not hard-wired to work

I've been thinking about something to reply to this with. Something told me that there's a counterargument, but I couldn't put my finger to it at first. Turns out, you said it yourself:

    If you could not compete for that scarce resource you made do with less

Minimalism and mindful consumption have been getting traction over the last decade or two. I think the reason for it, mostly, is that people find it difficult to manage their urges to buy and consume, in a world so full of things to do it with. I think people are recognizing that, without managing that urge — in a way no producer of food or luxury items will ever help you with — they're going to spend far more than they can afford, and most people are savvy/unfucked (in a sense of having few things that would skew their perception) enough to account for that.

People have been having an increasingly tough time getting a job in the first world, both because of the sudden population boom due to rapid industrialization of production...

...and because of the decrease in wages this (and many other things, including women starting to work during/after WWII) meant. People clearly see that they're getting less and less — or, more precisely, are being able to afford less and less. Some are drowning in credit as they try to cope with the pressure of not being able to buy whatever they want, that's true, but more and more people are willing to take a cut so that they can still afford what they need.

Maybe, with automation on the rise, this is where we're heading: a new plateau of desire and consumption, with a much higher base level of production to supply us what we need.

Then again, I'm mostly talking out of my ass here. If I'm getting something wrong, that's on me.

kleinbl00  ·  63 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Turns out, you said it yourself:

I've said it myself at much greater length:

The problem is the gist of the article is "we don't naturally need to work, therefore a future where few people work will be fine." It's a thinly veiled argument for UBI, as these kinds of articles tend to be.

The reason I raised the points that I did is that UBI articles generally ignore math in favor of (A) the milk of human kindness (B) the bounteous explosion of productivity in the face of automation without really examining the socioeconomic questions at the heart of "some people work, some people don't."

We're not hard-wired to work. Duh. As a species, though, we are easily bored; nobody puts in a 40-50 hour week and then spends all weekend in the garden because they're trying to save money on vegetables. "Work" then is kinda squiggly, as _refugee_ kinda tried to point out.

Here's the thing, though. Productivity has been going up since the invention of agriculture. Leisure time has not.

Sure - I'd rather file TPS reports than work in the salt mines but as society grows increasingly complex, our ritual engagement with that society increases as well.

If we did not believe in the ritual of "work," our society would not advance. I believe that we're about to see challenges to our definition of "work" but I also believe that those who opt out will starve. That's a different argument than the pursuit of minimalism. Minimalism, after all, has traditionally been about the luxury of eschewing physical goods while asceticism has traditionally been about the purity of eschewing physical goods. Both are choices...

...and if the world decides you're an ascetic, you aren't. You're just poor.

FirebrandRoaring  ·  63 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    It's a thinly veiled argument for UBI, as these kinds of articles tend to be.

I'm... not sure where you're getting that from. The idea that it might be a pro-UBI article makes some sense, but need you go deeper?

kleinbl00  ·  63 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    For those of us not tormented by visions of a Terminator-style dystopia, the most urgent question posed by automation is: “What will people do if robots take their jobs?”

The author's argument is everything will be fine because we don't want to work anyway. The classic UBI argument is some variation of "won't it be nice when we can find something fulfilling to do with our time other than fill out TPS reports" and the author's version is Kalahari bushmen only spend a few hours a day digging up grubs and spearing kudu. He's hardly the first - Conrad Lorenz put forth the noble savage and his life of leisure in On Aggression and Daniel Ash turned Conrad Lorenz into a talking gorilla (really) in Ishmael. However, the slant pushed by Lorenz and Ash (and the 4-hour work week guy and the your money or your life guy and the rich dad poor dad guy) is don't work harder than you have to, you simp while the UBI guys are always about "we'll need to figure it out soon because automation is going to take all our jobs whether we want to work or not.

No, it's not explicitly a UBI argument. But it's only the UBI guys who pose the question only to answer "everything's going to be just fine."

    Our preoccupation with keeping everybody endlessly productive risks harming our and many other species’ future. Most of the strategies proposed for dealing with problems such as climate change and biodiversity loss aim to find more sustainable ways for us to continue to produce and consume as much as we do. Likewise, most proposals to manage automation’s impact focus on how to find new work for those nudged out by robots and artificial intelligence.

Is there a "but?"

    But we should draw comfort from the knowledge that we are not genetically hard-wired to work. Automation provides exactly the opportunity we need to rethink our relationship with the workplace and relinquish our dangerous obsession with economic growth.

Everyone's gonna be fine, we don't have to work, Big Yellow Father will take care of us. "We need to rethink our relationship with the workplace" is an argument that society shouldn't have to work.


FirebrandRoaring  ·  63 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I see. Thanks for putting it clear before me.

Do you think UBI is going to be a necessary part of the upcoming social structure once automation kicks off into double-digit job takeover?

kleinbl00  ·  63 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Your country and mine have provided ample examples of how little the winners care for the losers.

I really want to believe in the utopia of UBI. I think it's a beautiful dream. Reality, however, is poverty.

FirebrandRoaring  ·  63 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm trying to get to your level of understanding of the economics behind implementation of UBI, but I'm struggling.

kleinbl00  ·  63 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's only money, d00d. Follow the numbers and see where they lead.

_refugee_  ·  63 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I also feel like Maslow’s hierarchy needs to be mentioned at some point here. Just because you can find enough food to feed yourself doesn’t mean you’re satisfied all your needs.

kleinbl00  ·  63 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I suspect the future is going to give exactly zero levels of pyramid to people who don't work. Their lives shall be nastier, more brutish and shorter than those who do.