As a follow-up to my writings on Artificial Intelligence, my friend Som Das sent me an article by Peter Diamandis on demonetization and the "abundance" that will be created with the help of technology.
People are concerned about how AI and robotics are taking jobs and destroying livelihoods... reducing our earning capacity, and subsequently destroying the economy.
In anticipation, countries like Canada, India and Finland are running experiments to pilot the idea of "universal basic income" - the unconditional provision of a regular sum of money from the government to support livelihood independent of employment.
But what people aren't talking about, and what's getting my attention, is a forthcoming rapid demonetization of the cost of living.
Meaning -- it's getting cheaper and cheaper to meet our basic needs.
Powered by developments in exponential technologies, the cost of housing, transportation, food, health care, entertainment, clothing, education and so on will fall, eventually approaching, believe it or not, zero.
Peter has an interesting chart as part of his thesis:
In his article, he pushes this logic further to show how Universal Basic Income and Demonetization, in combination, will make possible an age of abundance.
There are two issues with this argument:
First, let's say that humanity does succeed in pushing down cost of production to near zero, and can sustain with basic income. The question still remains: what do people DO with their infinite leisure? What percentage of people can be creative? How many will focus on doing something artistic? How many will become scientists or investigative journalists?
And how many will become zombies playing computer games and watching YouTube or television?
My thesis is 99%. Hence, we're going towards a planet of zombies.
To me, this is dystopia.
Second, if all VALUE is consumed for FREE, what is the incentive for people to create value? Thus far, capitalism has operated on the principle that producers create value, consumers pay to consume value.
In this freeloader society we're gearing up for, this basic logic goes out of the window. Zombies pay for nothing. Producers hence produce nothing.
What is so abundant and glorious about this pointless, perpetual leisure state of humankind?
Photo credit: Iain Watson/Flickr.com.