I have written several pieces already on my deep concerns about the kind of society we're moving towards in the next 30-50 years as technology-induced changes sweep through society, rendering hundreds of millions of people unemployable.
- Future of Work: Utopia or Dystopia?
- Future of Artificial Intelligence: Brexit, Trump and Other Calamities
- Artificial Intelligence: Just Because We Can, Does It Mean That We Should
- Future of Artificial Intelligence: All Play, No Work Society
- Future of Artificial Intelligence: Demonetization
It seems to me that the end game in this thought experiment is the triumph of communism. Let me explain.
The year is 2050.
Most jobs are automated.
A Universal Basic Income provides for the basic needs of human beings - food, shelter, clothing - and keeps society from imploding through crime and revolution.
Most people don't DO anything productive.
They don't strive to achieve anything.
They, effectively, vegetate.
I am sure there will be interesting mechanisms to facilitate this process of vegetating - immersive computer games, ever-addictive social media, etc. Note, however, no one can afford anything beyond the basics, so don't think the entertainment industry will be thriving either. Welcome to the age of free riders!
There is almost no market economy except for basics and a tiny market for ultra-luxury. The "winners" in this game who will accumulate extraordinary levels of power and influence will be amassing immense wealth.
The rest will get by.
This is what Russia tried to do. Equalize. Homogenize.
This is what China tried to do.
This is what Cuba tried to do.
Well, we've had a bit of a taste of this dystopia already, and concluded that we didn't like it.
In this round, however, society is marching nose-down into the same kind of homogeneous, lowest common denominator equilibrium.
If Artificial Intelligence plays out the way many believe it will (including myself), the world will, in 30-50 years, become a vast playground of mediocrity.
I believe, we, the capitalists, will soon destroy capitalism.
As someone whose entire orientation is based on capitalism and the pursuit for excellence, my stomach turns very badly as I try to process this dystopia.
Photo credit: Mike Steele/Flickr.com.