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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

New Economy

That’s what the new economy should look like according to Zuckerberg and Co: 

You and I should work more and never retire to sponsor the existence of a disaffected underclass that will spend its life on Facebook and opiates paid for by your and my money. The underclass will be manipulated through Facebook and such to vote for people who will make this setup possible. 

Mind you, this doesn’t have to happen. We can set things up differently if that’s what we want. 

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5 thoughts on “New Economy

  1. Mind you, this doesn’t have to happen. We can set things up differently if that’s what we want.

    No true. Unless it is also true that we can send millions of people whose labor is not needed in this economy to be colonists on the moon or Mars. Both are equally likely.

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  2. Stringer Bell on said:

    “..whose labor is not needed in this economy ”

    Yup. I agree with Clarissa about the lack of motivation/purpose problem with UBI, but I still don’t know how any compelling plans to deal with the automation economy. This isn’t a blue collar problem anymore. It’s the educated who are targeted for the first time in history. Not the hyper-educated, agreed, but still, educated people.

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    • It’s always going to be group X that’s targeted for the first time in history (for a given value of X). The problem now is how we deal with this. I refuse to wring my hands about the impossibility of dealing with these unseen-before-changes just because, until now, people like me weren’t part of group X. People have dealt, before, with much larger sea changes than the one that’s now affecting people like me.

      The problem I’m seeing here is the meaningfulness of life being linked to economic action (whether it was productive ability, as it used to be, or consumerism, as it is now). Neither are sustainable for the future, because automatization divorces productivity from meaning and because the consumerism version is a heavily unsatisfactory Red Queen race. To further stoke the fire, the non-economic sources of mass meaning of the past are kinda problematic – I hope that after the 20th century nobody’s seriously suggesting trying nationalism again full-time, religion is easily pervertible and family requires either great psychological health and development or very little psychological health and development, and I don’t understand how we can preserve family as a source of mass meaning while at the same time keeping open the path to individuation.

      Now, at a personal level, the problem of meaning is not that much of an issue. I guess we’re all proud of our intelligence here, and have all found our own personal half-ways of managing productivity, consumerism, nationalism, religion and family – but they’re not the sort of half-ways we can translate into something that can work at a mass level rather than an individual one – and if we refuse to engage with the mass level altogether the masses won’t disappear, they’ll just suck Trump & Zuckerberg’s dick, or worse dicks altogether.

      My tentative solution is keep funding the artists and the scholars because they’re the only ones that can maybe find a way out for us all, and if we have to have some sort of UBI (which we probably will, unless we utterly refuse automation and I find this highly unlikely) link it to some sort of participating in education or art, because at least these give the chance for individuation. I’m entirely unconvinced that this is only unachievable if people like you and me will work forever with no hope of retirement, by the way – I work at a big enough company that it makes Serious Money but also small enough that I can see when it’s earning said money from something I did …. and I don’t think I should be paid significantly more, considering how much time and effort it takes to do what I do, but there’s money for living being made, and money for enriching people’s lives, and money for pensions and benefits for us employees too so we don’t end up in some bullshit situation where we’re at the throats of the unemployable and the unemployable are at the throats of us.

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  3. Buffet, Musk and Gates have proposed taxes on robots to pay for the people being put out of work. That’s the corporations paying for the workers they are shedding, which makes some sense. (Of course, ultimately, it the customers footing the bill.) That certainly is better than violent insurrection, which is also a reasonable scenario. Of course, there’s a decent chance that an asteroid, violent solar flare or nuclear war will take us out before that happens. That is after all why Musk has placed a priority on creation of a Martian colony within ten years.

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  4. adrianaurelien on said:

    Have you read Brave New World? You probably won’t enjoy the book, but I see a lot of parallels.

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