/ The goal of any civilisation should be 100% unemployment

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SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
Was chatting with some mates last night and someone came out with this, I thought it might make an interesting discussion. Do civilisations have goals? Obviously the main motivation of our government at present is the exact opposite... Are we suck in the past? Is it an impossible state of existence? Would it be a good thing?
1poundSOCKS - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l: Purely based on the fact that I don't want to spend all my adult life employed, it would be a bad thing.
ERH - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

I am striving to realise this dream :)
SidharthaDongre - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

As a species, don't humans need purpose and incentive to be productive? There are exceptions, some people generally get on better without the need for remuneration, appraisal, vindication and the like, but most people don't fit that bill.

Plus, if we leave it up to centralised government, how else is it going to work?
Lurking Dave - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:Do you mean full employment?
JimboWizbo - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l: Does self employed count as unemployed?
1poundSOCKS - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to 1poundSOCKS: I read that title totally the opposite. :) I think the goverment should strive to create an environment where people can be happy, and not try to trample too much on their dreams and aspirations. I think most people, given the right environment, would want to contribute to society.
pasbury on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to SidharthaDongre:
> (In reply to shaun l)
>
> As a species, don't humans need purpose and incentive to be productive?

Yes but in my case work gets in the way of that.
1poundSOCKS - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to Lurking Dave: I think the OP means what he says, reading the 'government/opposite' part of the post.
SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to SidharthaDongre:
> (In reply to shaun l)
>
> As a species, don't humans need purpose and incentive to be productive? There are exceptions, some people generally get on better without the need for remuneration, appraisal, vindication and the like, but most people don't fit that bill.

How would we know? If we didn't need to work to proper perhaps our incentives would totally change?

>
> Plus, if we leave it up to centralised government, how else is it going to work?

Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean.
Wiley Coyote - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to JimboWizbo:
> (In reply to shaun l) Does self employed count as unemployed?

How about self-unemployed, which is how I describe myself these days

SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to JimboWizbo: I'm not really sure how it would work, I guess you'd need the undesirable jobs to be automated, which at the current rate of progress could happen in our lifetimes, but you'd still need all the public services...
MischaHY - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

I think basic services could happily be automated, but why would people give up their job if they've worked hard to achieve it. Just because it's work doesn't mean it's just being done for the money, look at (for example) scientists and artists and mountain guides. They don't work just for the money, they work because they have a passion for what they do and love doing it.

I would hate to live in a world where everyone just vegetated in front of televisions whilst machines took care of our every physical need.
puppythedog on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to MischaHY: But if people could do exactly what they wanted without it ebing an employment so Mountain guides just go mountaineering?
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

This idea just seems to show a real disconnection with what work is. At the most basic level, people need to eat and there needs to be some means for people to get food to eat. In a hunter/gatherer society, people hunt and then they can eat. It is a direct link. The idea of no one hunting, or no one making clothes, or no one cooking would be a nonsense.

We live in exactly the same way, just that we have more specialised jobs, so there is more of a gap in the link between your food and your work.

Even in an automated world, someone would need to maintain the automatons.

Also - what even IS work? Is brushing your own teeth work? Is doing your own garden work? We separate out work and play, but really, they aren't such different, separate things...
SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to MischaHY: I guess jobs would become vocations, if I didn't get paid for it I'd still want to build houses because I really enjoy it. Can't imagine why people would want to veg out in front of tv all day, I know people do that now but perhaps many of them have little other choice. I'm sure a small minority would still want to do this, my attitude is why not? You'd still need rewarding for your efforts, perhaps this would happen naturally depending on how much you contribute to those around you and your community.
Bulls Crack - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

I think it used to be called the post-industrial society?
SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to puppythedog: I'd imagine many mountain guides would just carry on being mountain guides tbh...
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:
> Can't imagine why people would want to veg out in front of tv all day,

Especially if they had to watch programmes produced and acted by automatons which had been built by other automatons...
SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to tlm: We've evolved to the point where one human can provide clothes, food ect for many others, hundreds maybe, and this number will only increase as technology progresses. I know many people who dream of owning a farm or small holding, in every community there's people who enjoy making clothes... I think we'd actually live much more like we did as huntergathers.

We do have more specialised jobs but most of the jobs we do don't help us survive in a practical sense, they fuel our economy and provide us with money. Most of the work we do is destroying our habitat and is counter productive to our survival as a species.
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SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to tlm: Perhaps tv would be much better because we'd have far more actors, same for music, theater, films, art, anything that gives us pleasure.
wintertree - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

Sounds about right - in the short term.

As increasing self-sufficient automation technology approaches levels currently considered to be magical, society will change beyond all recognition, and will develop new goals that are currently impossible to predict, and concepts like (un)employment as we currently understand them will have no meaning.

I wish there was less regressive moaning and strike action surrouning automation. It is hampered at so many levels, and has been since the days of the Jacard loom. It always works out for the better - on average, in the end.

I think the concept that any job can and will be automated one day should be a fudamental part of education from an early age, and that the state abd employers should recognise this and activly support people through the implications.

The future is coming, and 200 years of fighting that slow it down, waste resources and ultimately make people suffer more.

The degree to which people are mentally blinkered that they actively fight to keep some of the worst jobs imaginable over automation is something I find reflects very badly on the way they have been shaped by their employer, unions and the state.
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

So you do think that there will always be some people who have to work? (the ones who do things like grow food, are doctors, teachers, make clothes, furniture, build houses, help to distribute products, get rid of your sewage and waste etc?

Which jobs should we get rid of? Marketing? Web forum administrators? Stock Brokers? Pension administrators?

Couldn't we just let people do better quality work, so that a piece of furniture is crafted, rather than stapled together?

What about the jobs done by people in other countries, making our t-shirts and trainers? Would you be prepared to pay the amount I would want for making you a hand sewn t-shirt?
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:
> (In reply to tlm) Perhaps tv would be much better because we'd have far more actors, same for music, theater, films, art, anything that gives us pleasure.

but no electricians, people to make cameras, caterers for the actors, etc?

Dave Perry - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

Bhutan (I think), has the stated goal of 'human happiness'.

This seems to be far more satisfactory than simply encouraging full employment which just turns us all into wage slaves.
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to wintertree:

> I think the concept that any job can and will be automated one day should be a fudamental part of education from an early age,

Artists? Problem solvers? Creative jobs? Teachers? Caring jobs? Nursery nurses, clowns, professional atheletes and sports people?
SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to wintertree: Great post, I'm constantly amazed at human ability to resist change. I literally have no concept of the mentality that wishes to keep things as they are and not improve our lives. Life's good but it's far from perfect and it could be so much better.

Can anyone explain why humans behave like this?
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

I think a better goal would to be to make sure that employment is far more flexible. That it is easier to have a part time job, a bit of education and a small business, and some caring duties all at the same time if you want to.

I don't know why people think that working is a horrible thing to do. The only horrible thing about it is the dependency on it and the trappedness of it. The actual work and how it feels is usually a result of how you approach the work...
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:
> (In reply to wintertree) Great post, I'm constantly amazed at human ability to resist change. I literally have no concept of the mentality that wishes to keep things as they are and not improve our lives. Life's good but it's far from perfect and it could be so much better.

Now that, I 100% agree with.
SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to shaun l)
> [...]
>
> but no electricians, people to make cameras, caterers for the actors, etc?

Most of this could be automated, I'm sure many people would want to be involved in making tv without being actors, the point is we'd still work (or I believe would would, others might not agree) but we wouldn't be obliged to.
Ramblin dave - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to shaun l)
>
> So you do think that there will always be some people who have to work? (the ones who do things like grow food, are doctors, teachers, make clothes, furniture, build houses, help to distribute products, get rid of your sewage and waste etc?

Realistically, I don't think we're ever going to abolish all forms of work.

But does it not strike you as at least a bit weird that the more productivity enhancing technology we have (and I mean automated factories and things here, not just outlook calendar) the longer we all seem to spend working?
Ramblin dave - on 19 Sep 2013
mgco3 - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to shaun l)
> Especially if they had to watch programmes produced and acted by automatons which had been built by other automatons...

So you have seen Coronation Street then?

mgco3 - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

But if the wife didn't have to work she would probably just want to talk all day!!!

Scarey thought!!
SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to shaun l)
>

> I don't know why people think that working is a horrible thing to do. The only horrible thing about it is the dependency on it and the trappedness of it. The actual work and how it feels is usually a result of how you approach the work...

Ok, so what do you do? I've had jobs so awful I wanted to die
wintertree - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to tlm:

Yes. There is every chance every most of those jobs will be automated.

There is no doubt in my mind that non human intelligence (artificial is a perjorative term) and advanced machinery - combined into proper actual robots - can take over all of that except for athletics. When they do, athletics wont be a "job" as people won't need the money. Arg is harder as people may prefer human originated art, who knows. But likewise there may not be jobs as we know them..

Look at people gaining knowledge from online university level courses, some of this doesn't need the robotics of the future.

There is no real technical show stopper to this future. I think most of it could be seen within my lifetime, who knows. It's trendy to cite "The Culture" from Iain M. Banks' novels for one exploration of this, but it's well trodden out by some of the classic authors from the mid 20th century. The big difference between then (even the early Culture novels) and now is how much actual research is now actually going on around the world towards creating intelligent and conscious beings in a non-traditional system. That one is going to really piss off the organised religions and change the labour markets more than anything since steam power.
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> But does it not strike you as at least a bit weird that the more productivity enhancing technology we have (and I mean automated factories and things here, not just outlook calendar) the longer we all seem to spend working?

Not really, when you look at the things that people consider the norm in life. People don't mend and fix their things, they change them because they are bored, they think that a lot of things such as computers or tvs are things that you cannot go without, people expect a holiday abroad and think a package holiday to spain is a bit below par.

If we want all this stuff, then how is it invented and created?

If people are happy having less stuff, then they don't need to work for such long hours, and there are lots of examples of people choosing to live alternative lifestyles.

My mum doesn't work (retired) my sister doesn't work (housewife - her husband works) my other sister doesn't work (disabled), my step dad doesn't work (retired). There are many people whose lives aren't even alternative who don't work, and these people have to be supported.

I personally choose to have less money and work part time. I feel like I have plenty of stuff and am not really bothered about new clothes, holidays abroad, technology or new climbing kit.

Lord_ash2000 - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l: He might have a point.

I and friends have often thought of what the ideal pinnacle of our civilisation would be. And an idea that cropped up a few times is a world in which all the toil of life is taken up by advanced AI machines programmed to serve. So all work relating to things like food production, power supply, water and waste management as well as other things like production of consumer goods and houses and pretty much everything else would be taken care of by a subservient race of machines.

Being that we’d then live in a world where no one wants for any marital thing money then becomes pointless as anyone can have the finest of anything all provided for us by our self maintaining machine slaves. Therefore the human race can choose to pursue other goals , we can spend our day enjoying art, sport, music or anything else that we enjoy. The only ‘work’ would be labours done for goals other than wealth such as advancing science or exploring space.
The perfect equilibrium of man would of course never be maintained, some items are rare or even unique and could only be owned by a few people so there would still be some status elements to separate ‘rich’ from ‘poor’ although I don’t know how these will be determined.
Carrying on the theme to the ultimate conclusion, eventually we wouldn’t even need to worry about things like that, we could all be plugged into a huge computer simulator (aka the Matrix) where the lives of each and every one of us could be perfection. At that point you wonder if we even need a human body at all we could simply be our minds whizzing around a virtual world of bliss forever. We would be fully connected with everything and everyone, we could instantly be anywhere we wanted and do and have anything we wished.

You have to wonder though, if it got to that stage what would be the point of it all? All human kind would exist inside a box on some robots desk, you could just switch it off and nothing would change at all.
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to Lord_ash2000:

See - I think that people actually are happy with a very different life from that. I see people really enjoying things like doing some gardening, or making things. People are actually pretty happy with rather low tech lives, such as when they go camping or on holiday to a chalet. All the 'stuff' tends to come about in order to fuel our economy, as this is what we are using to measure success. So in order to sell people all this stuff, you first of all have to make sure that they are dissatisfied with what they already have.

Change the need to constantly grow the economy and use research to find out what really does make people happy and content, and then build a society based on that. (but that will never happen).
SI - profile removed on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to Lord_ash2000)
>
> See - I think that people actually are happy with a very different life from that. I see people really enjoying things like doing some gardening, or making things. People are actually pretty happy with rather low tech lives, such as when they go camping or on holiday to a chalet. All the 'stuff' tends to come about in order to fuel our economy, as this is what we are using to measure success. So in order to sell people all this stuff, you first of all have to make sure that they are dissatisfied with what they already have.
>
> Change the need to constantly grow the economy and use research to find out what really does make people happy and content, and then build a society based on that. (but that will never happen).

Hey, we finally agree! Apart from that last sentence...

I don't think because automation can do these jobs they'll disappear, I think we just won't have to do the jobs we don't want to any longer.

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Skip - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to Lurking Dave:
> (In reply to shaun l)Do you mean full employment?

I reckon he does mean full employment. Obviously certain jobs need to be done, police, medical professionals etc. However I've always thought why should people be forced into brainless drudgery. Some people probably couldn't get on without working and would be at a loss as to how fill their time, great they can do the essential jobs.
Skip - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:
> (In reply to JimboWizbo) I guess you'd need the undesirable jobs to be automated

I reckon a lot could be automated

tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

If you think automatons can do it all, won't you just create more drudgery for those building, fixing and designing the automatons? Will automatons do these jobs too? And mining for materials, drilling for oils to make the automatons? Will automatons do these jobs too?
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

> Ok, so what do you do? I've had jobs so awful I wanted to die

Oh my word!!! Like what?

I've done loads of jobs in my life, and most of them I've been able to draw some pleasure out of. If a job is simple and repetitive, then it leaves me free to day dream, or I can set myself little challenges of how much to do in a certain time. If a job is complex and difficult, then it is a fun challenge!

The thing that has really challenged me is working in a small room with a person who had some sort of issues. But luckily for me, I was able to just listen to the radio and mentally surround myself with a pink, sparkly bubble of love and happiness! :-)
Ramblin dave - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to shaun l)
>
> If you think automatons can do it all, won't you just create more drudgery for those building, fixing and designing the automatons?

It's a reduced volume of drudgery, though. Otherwise we wouldn't bother automating stuff at all. Everything that we automate essentially gives us either more stuff for the same amount of effort or the same stuff for less effort. If we wanted to, as a society, we could keep automating stuff and keep having the same stuff for less effort to the point where the effort was, if not negligible, a damn sight less than we're putting in at the moment.

> Will automatons do these jobs too? And mining for materials, drilling for oils to make the automatons? Will automatons do these jobs too?

What part of "automate EVERYTHING" are you not getting? :p

We can't do this tomorrow, obviously, but given how many "impossible" things we've done in the last couple of hundred years, and particularly the level and sophistication of computer control that we've introduced into stuff that would previously have needed intensive manual oversight, I wouldn't bet against it in another couple of hundred years...
Ramblin dave - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:
This stuff is obviously speculative, but I think it has a practical value as a thought experiment insofar as it makes us think a bit about whether we really value "more stuff" so much more than "more time to do fulfilling stuff other than work", and if not, why we seem to keep choosing the former over the latter...
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

I choose neither. I choose quality of the moment, which is obviously a pure first world luxury. If I happen to be washing up, then I try to enjoy it to the fullest that I can, enjoying making each plate fully clean, enjoying the hot water etc. If I'm waiting for a train, I try to enjoy that moment, a chance to relax, to watch the world go by.

I think by choosing to see work as drudgery, as something to avoid and hate, we simply create a life full of horrible moments, rather than rich ones.
tlm - on 19 Sep 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> What part of "automate EVERYTHING" are you not getting? :p

OK - so say everything was automated, powered by a renewable energy source. What would people do all day? After all, we have plenty of leisure time now, and what do people do with it? Go shopping? Browse you tube? Watch tv?

I'm constantly amazed how people do get bored with their current leisure time - how many people choose to carry on working when they could retire? People aren't always that sure what to do with their time! (Don't worry, I would practice the guitar, learn Spanish, make clothes, carve wood, climb, walk, swim, paint, sing, and have a very merry time!)
ice.solo - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

you may like some of robert anton wilsons ideas. he had the idea that anyone who replaced their work position with an automated system received a pension based the expenses saved and profit made from eliminating human inadequacies.
SI - profile removed on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to ice.solo: 'a fairy tale for paranoids' - sounds right up my street... :)
ice.solo - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

Try the Schroedingers Cat Trilogy. He uses lots of interesting ideas in that.
His sense of humour kept him from being taken seriously, but he kept lots of good ideas aloft in a sea of conservatism.
SI - profile removed on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to ice.solo: Cheers, I'll check it out, sounds similar to Kurt Vonnegut?
ice.solo - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

Vonnegut seems more profound and humanist, wilson more odd ball and agitator. Maybe more like tom robbins. But similar futurists in some ways.
He wrote some brain change manuals too, that are interesting.
Skip - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

The full idea goes like this:

A new government in the USA starts by disbanding the military thus having a large amount of cash to play with. Then they announce that anyone who can "invent themselves out of a job" will be put on a yearly "pension". Obviously others would be made redundant as a result. These people are also given a yearly pension, but only half that of the inventor (still enough to comfortably live on). Anyone can "invent themselves out of" as many jobs as they like, getting the same amount per job.
Obviously some jobs can not be mechanised and need doing by humans, this satisfies those who need to work. The theory is that after a short period of just "chilling" most who have lost their jobs due to mechanisation will adopt a hobby, which will require facilities, gear etc, thus providing more jobs for those "needing" to work and will keep the economy going.
SI - profile removed on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to Skip: Sounds cool
ice.solo - on 20 Sep 2013
In reply to Skip:

Awesome, cheers for the expansion.
andrewmcleod - on 21 Sep 2013
In reply to shaun l:

Right now there is a lot of physical, manual work that is not automated, or in some cases it is cheaper to pay poor people in foreign countries than it is to automake/roboticize the process (e.g. clothing).
In the distant distant future, we can create artificial intelligences which run everything, everybody has everything they can reasonably ask for, and humans can't keep up with the AI's anyway so we just do sports/arts/make Youtube videos all day.

The interesting bit is in between :P
What I would like to see is the elimination of all work which does not build knowledge. For example, consider farming. Currently farmers do a lot of work, which farmers have been doing for a long time and continues to need doing. This work happens only because it is needed. Replace these jobs with robots. Now somebody needs to program these robots to do these jobs. But the key point is that this programming adds to the total knowledge content of humanity - it only has to be done once. Each change to the programming should be an improvement. This kind of work is interesting and worthwhile - it is not just labour for money, people can take real pride in making a permanent difference to humanity.

So essentially all jobs should be research jobs - finding better ways to do things :)

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