What the Wisconsin Demonstrations Can Teach Transhumanists

I’ve been up to the demonstrations at the Wisconsin capitol at least a dozen times, and every time I’ve noticed a strange effect: I can’t help laughing and smiling. In fact, all the participants exhibit this syndrome, even the police. Some of this can be explained by the imaginative costumes and signs that folks bring. Like a five-year-old boy with “Walker is a Big Meanie” pinned to his shirt, the young woman carrying a “Free Lindsay Lohan” sign (fun even if she’s an ironic counter-demonstrator), and the Raging Grannies, a singing group of mature ladies in their flowered hats. But it goes much deeper than that. The demonstrators include teachers, railroad workers, prison guards, off-duty police and firefighters, iron workers, nurses, postal carriers and sorters, sheet metal workers, truck drivers, doctors, steam fitters, farmers, university teaching assistants, electrical workers, professors, and gray-haired retirees like me. These people are insulted by the new state government and are worried sick about the humiliations they will suffer when they no longer have unions and collective bargaining to defend them. They include many private sector union workers who think their cause will be lost if public sector unions disappear. By their demonstrations, hundreds every day and tens of thousands every weekend, for week after week, these people are reclaiming their dignity. It just feels so good that you have to smile and laugh.

The pressure on middle class working people has several causes: jobs are disappearing to automation, communication and transportation technology are forcing American workers to compete with much cheaper labor globally, and our complex, computerized financial system sucks the profits out of other sectors and defies understanding by regulators. The remorseless logic of the market is telling a large percentage of the population that they just aren’t worth as much as they were before these technology-driven changes. It’s fair to say that Wisconsin’s new governor and legislative leaders are market ideologues, and they want to bring the logic of the market to state workers (even those, like I used to be, whose salary and benefits don’t come from state taxes).

We develop technology to make the world better, so we can have cheaper and more plentiful manufactured goods, food, communications and transportation. But rather than sharing in this bounty, some people are worse off. Are we in such a rush to develop and exploit technology that we can’t provide a little dignity to those who are hurt? Can’t we temper the logic of the market with compassion for those not on the cutting edge of technology? I spent my career developing software for real-time process control and for scientific visualization, but I can’t help laughing and smiling when I’m with folks reclaiming their dignity from the logic of the market.

We transhumanists know that, when it comes to technology, the world hasn’t seen anything yet. The average human lifespan has approximately doubled over recent centuries in the developed world; during the next century science is likely to discover how to extend human life indefinitely. This will include a deep understanding of the mechanisms of life and its diseases, and development of technology for modifying those mechanisms. This will enable us to enhance human bodies to repair defects and increase skills. We are also likely during the next century to build artificial brains better in all ways than human brains, and to learn how to merge them with human brains so that humans can increase their intelligence limited only by the size of their artificial brains.

But I think that when it also comes to possible negative effects of technology, we haven’t seen anything yet. When your intelligence depends on the size of your brain, the logic of the market is that your intelligence depends on your wealth. And in turn, your wealth will depend on your intelligence. This positive feedback loop between wealth and intelligence will create a huge divergence in the intelligence of different humans, so that less intelligent humans can not speak or learn the languages spoken by the most intelligent. Humanity may essentially split into multiple species, with the great mass no better than pets to the elite.

Will our pursuit of biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technology squeeze out all other considerations? Or can we compromise technological progress with compassionate public policy for all humans? One approach to compassionate policy would be to ensure that all humans have equal access to enhancement technologies, independent of their wealth. Another approach would be to require a license for greater-than-human intelligence, with the condition that such super-intelligent minds must have specified altruistic primary values or goals. The details of compassionate policy for the creation of super-intelligent minds are the subject of numerous papers and debates, with no consensus yet on the best policy. But the lesson of the Wisconsin demonstrations is that such compassion may make us all laugh and smile a lot.

29 Comments

  1. To Bill …

    C’mon. I put quotes around it because I’ve enough data points to “name that tune!”

    The fact that you don’t literally say it does not negate what you imply.

    And for the luvva God! Robert Reich?

    Feathers!
    Quack!
    Waddle!!!!

    A caveat … I could be wrong on a fundamental assumption. And that assumption is that you’re intelligent and a good communicator.

    But I don’t think so.

    Even so, I’ll give you an opportunity to set the record straight as well as myself. To provide crystal clarity.

    Are you a liberal? Do you support the “redistribution of wealth”

    (I know, I know … double quotes again … shame on me!)

    P.S. For the record, I’m a die-hard, “guns and clinging to my religion”, flag-waving, astroturfing, teabagging, fiscally-conservative capitalist.

    To liberty!

  2. re: The Impersonal Logic of Math

    There’s a deficit of knowledge that technologically-savvy transhumanists keep missing.

    FACT: The top 10% of earners are already paying 70% of the Federal tab while the bottom 50% of earners essentially pay nothing. And many of these folks get rebates beyond that amount.

    So how much more do you think they should pay?

    Another fact …

    The “big, evil corporations” are merely legal entities. If you want to see what they really are, look at the payrolls of the families they employ. And look at who owns them … many a grannie and grampsie are dependent upon their retirement income that comes from being owners and beneficiaries of big, evil corporations.

    And another fact …

    “Big, evil corporations” comprise the only entity where double taxation on profits is legal.

    Heck … while the socialist-minded idiots drone and bash “big, evil oil”, for making “record profits”, they are ignorant of the fact that the government makes more off the sale of a gallon of gas than the big, evil oil companies make. And the government doesn’t have to do a damn thing to earn it. It just takes it.

    Now, regarding Wisconsin, puh-leeze … the state of education in the USSA is total crap. If these folks were to be competing in the markeplace, not only would they not be making 30-50% more than their private sector counterparts … that would assume they’d have jobs …

    Our kids have become dumbed down for a reason.

    And it “ain’t” them that’s caused it.

    • You put quotes around “big, evil corporations”, “big, evil oil” and “record profits” despite the fact that these phrases are not used in my article or in any previous comment. Please don’t put words in people’s mouths.

      Certainly the wealthy pay a lot more taxes than the poor, and this will increase as income inequality continues to increase. If I and many others are right that machines will eventually replace all (or almost all) human workers, leaving them with no income, then either they will starve or the government will redirect much of the output of the automated economy to them.

      Re the comment by Valkyrie Ice, the issue of needing a middle class with enough money to consume is well described by Robert Reich in his book, Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future:

      http://www.amazon.com/Aftershock-Economy-Americas-Future-Vintage/dp/0307476332/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1300858189&sr=8-1

      The point of my article and previous comments is that it is useful to carry the lessons of current problems with technology forward to the potential problems with transhumanist technology.

    • You didn’t hear of “small and kind” Pfizer testing their drugs on kids in third world countries, did you? I think you did but it doesn’t matter much for you. Because you are right – majority of population of USA including retiree benefits from this and other, yet undiscovered crimes. Sharing profit was smart move because people are likely to rationalize such things – nobody wants to think about oneself as an accomplice.

  3. That public sector unions are part of the behemoth of gov’t which is a bulwark of the past slowing down the future as much as it can. The PR problem for these people is that it is not the governor who is the “meanie”, it is numeric reality. Those of us in the private sector are far ahead of these guys in feeling the brutal pain of the real new economy. They have been protected from it and I don’t blame them for clinging to it with all their might…but the tsunami if dollars that is owed is not going away. Even if someone vaporized Scott Walker, Chris Christie and anyone un-hip enough to be puzzled by the economics of the Volt and racist enough to wonder about a high speed rail between Tampa and Orlando the unions woes would not go away.

    Public sector unions are part of the industrial past. Teachers’ tight grip on education dollars are horribly wasted for the most part due to tenure and the icy contempt of the union for students, parents and tax payers. Just pay, never mind how we do our job. Or IF we do our job. Just PAY. And if you dont’…well how hateful are you? And racist, of course. Skepticism about gov’t unions funnelling millions of dollars to Richard Trumpka is de facto, racist. Avoid this logical conclusion at your own peril.

    It will be years before these unions are neutered, but it will happen. By harsh reality. Alas, the FDA’s stranglehold on medicine will be neutered too slowly, by taking the industry of medicine off shore and outside its petty purview. The great things to come in medicine will be available first outside the US, thanks to the transcendent wisdom of the FDA’s ruminations and excretions. But many will die because of them. (Are FDA workers unionized, btw? And how racist is it to ask about that? Ah, questions…)

    Trumpka will fall. Unions will fall. Their time was generations ago. They served a noble function, as industry rose on slave labor. But that was then. This is now. By the time the unions sucked the life out of Detroit, the nobility was gone.

    The speed, dexterity, freedom and risk/reward that is the future, will be found well outside of the teacher’s union and the FDA. And political debates, I suspect. Until then, they’re germane and interesting, but increasingly non-sequiturs, of the bicycles and fish variety.

    • You are just spelling out the logic of the market and you are right that it has been harsher in the private sector.

      The US is still by far the leading manufacturing nation:

      http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/02/06/made_in_the_usa/

      But manufacturing jobs have fallen off a cliff due to automation. Employment in farming and the natural resource industries have been tiny for decades. Most people work in service jobs, but those are under pressure from automation too:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/science/05legal.html
      http://www.marshallbrain.com/robotic-nation.htm

      The result of all this is that workers’ bargaining power has been shrinking so wages are falling and private-sector unions have almost disappeared. The logic of the market is that work goes to the cheapest source, and machines are cheaper than people. Put another way, humans get less valuable as machines get more valuable.

      The irony is that the technology that has swung the balance of power away from workers is creating an abundance of goods and services, so the wealth exists to moderate the logic of the market on workers. And the legal means exist too, since governments elected by citizens have the power to moderate the logic of the market.

      Loss of worker value due to automation is just the first stage of negative effect of technology. The second stage will be much more serious, with transhumanist technologies that modify humans and enable wealth to be invested directly in self. Humanity may split into a wealthy, super-intelligent elite and a great mass who are excluded from any voice in public policy.

      My article was certainly not meant to advocate the interests of public-sector workers over private-sector workers, but to advocate the use of government and collective bargaining to moderate the logic of the market.

      • Bill, it doesn’t matter how many goods and services are produced if there is no consumers to drive the market.

        That’s what the corporates seem to miss, these people they are seeking to impoverish are THEIR SOURCE OF PROFIT.

        There’s a lot of political ideological BS being tossed back and forth on this thread, but in the end it comes down to one simple fact. You cannot destroy your consumer base and survive as a viable market entity. The corporations are busy cutting their own throats in the name of quick profits. Very soon those quick profits will have all been devoured, and the behemoths will die. It might take five years it might take 20, but it is going to happen, it is going to hurt everyone badly, and then when it’s over, we’re going to have a far better world emerge from the rubble.

        All those dystopian scenarios being tossed about here rely on one single false premise, that the corporations can continue to eradicate their own consumer bases WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE, and that is simply not possible.

        • If they take away our ability to earn money – we will learn to live without money – and once we learn to live without money – there will be noone to buy what they’re selling and they will cease to exist.

        • Actually, I believe the source of profit will simply reallocate to the increasingly closed-loop streams of capital flow, which we are already seeing in the increase in long-tail ultra-expensive goods marketed towards the rich and stratospherically rich, even as the mid-class goods like quality Sony HDTVs and decent health care make up less and less of the total US and global GDP. An economy and government by the wealthy, for the wealthy, of the wealthy. The rich will simply take more of the pie as the obsolesced teachers and service and knowledge-workers must make do with their dwindling social safety net and toilet-cultivated algae. The million-dollar junkets in the Caymans (which we the American taxpayer continue to subsidize through “austerity measures” and tax breaks), the fourteen mansions, armada of yachts, and eventually all the post-human life extension money can buy will become the work horse of the two-tier economy. Like the already emerging two-tier internet which private tech and communication conglomerate-cabals are strong-arming the FCC into allowing.

          The Marxian counterbalance of collective bargaining and refusal to operate the means of production will no longer apply when non-Mogul Class human beings are no longer necessary for the AI-automated means of production to function, further decreasing the middle and lower class control over their own fate. There will be protests, riots, rattling of the cage as unemployment reaches 30, 50, 70 percent as more and more swaths of the population is made irrelevant.

          We’re already seeing the first glimmers of this hyper-stratified Time Machine-esque world. Goldman, AIG, BoA, these ‘behemoths’ are already essentially automated by supercomputers using algorithmic investment, effectively removing human skill from the equation. “Well, they also all made gross miscalculations: they all failed in Gaussian-Copula glory!” Except, now you’re making the mistake of buying into neoclassical theory and the malapropriated corporation = Darwinian organism metaphor. From the vantage point of the *individuals* behind the corporations, the CEOs, the moguls, the Reubens and Paulsons revolving dooring between Wall Street and DC — the new plutarchy — they’ve come out WAY ahead, still getting 50 million dollar bonuses paid for by cuts in teacher’s benefits and worker’s bargaining rights, despite their toxic-waste filled puppets known as corporations. The digital revolution and the internet was purported to deliver a leveled playing field and freedom of information. What it is actually giving us as we speak is clandestine centralization of valuable private information through network lock-in effects a la Google, Facebook, et. al., *further* concentrating power.

          And even if (what I perceive as) the vanishingly unlikely scenario of total corporate collapse does occur and the nightmare finally does eat itself or get overthrown through some miraculous IQ-jump and social awakening of the Jersey Shore guzzling populace, that does not mean that the World 2.0 that emerges is any better. Today’s brave revolutionary in the jungle is tomorrow’s sadistic dictator on the throne. Today’s “Hack The Planet” is tomorrow’s “Phish The Planet”. Corporation facades and campaigns may come and go, but The Money never fails to take hold of fertile ambitious minds. And good luck re-engineering the brain for Mothera Theresa-grade altruism and removing desire to compete for prestige, status and wealth. Bet your ass the first “annoying” evolutionary psychological products to be removed will be guilt, as the uber-rich who can afford the operations will want to get better sleep at night after killing the livelihoods of a few million underpaid protesting Wisconsin teachers, railroad workers, nurses, and more.

          And unlike Middle East and Soviet Bloc revolutions where an unjust government could be displaced by a sustained non-violent refusal to work, to buy, to turn the cogs of the economy that supports the political establishment, the bone and sinew of the future economy will not consist of humans but automated machines, and the Owner Classes will smile and laugh from within their paramilitary-drone guarded gated enclaves.

          At least, that’s where it looks like we’re heading, if you pull your eyeballs out of your computer a second and look outside your window to see the massive and unapologetic gang-rape of the sub-upper class going on. I won’t say it’s unavoidable, but if we’re to have any hope of preventing scenarios of this kind, we need more encompassing, sober conversations about where we’re headed, and less collective daydreaming about AI wish-fulfillment, living life in pursuit of more life, trying to neuromance dead fathers, etc.

  4. The huge problem is ‘non-economic stuff’ got shoved in with the ‘pure-economic stuff’ – and that ‘impure-conglomeration’ got shoved hard past the lawmakers and taxpayers without regard for the laws of the state and the welfare of the citizens. Also, the lack of ethics, the corporate aspect, and the bizarre tactics aren’t helping.
    Add to that the unemployed desperation, the teachers apprehension at losing their jobs – the impersonal logic of mathematics doesn’t cut it in the real world, people don’t work that way. The humanity of it all has to be taken into consideration, you have to look at what you do to the people as well as what you do to the numbers. Historically, people in power will try to get away with as much as they can,and will use whatever is at hand as their foil. But, by scapegoating the teachers – our governor kicked the beehive.
    For many, teachers are part of our families – whether they are related to us or not. The insinuation that teachers are both overpaid and lazy doesn’t fly… our new government leaders inveigle and obfuscation were obvious…so how else are we being deceived. People started poking into everything, turning over every politico-financial stone looking for the truth, whatever it may be. Folks here don’t like what they are finding, so far. Even the stupid prank call – which was supposed to be funny i guess – turned out to be chilling. If it was only money, pure math, people could cope – people have been coping. We have multigenerational households building within most of our socioeconomic strata in order to weather the financial hardship of our failing economy. But they are stripping away rights, taking away even the hope for the future for those already underpaid public employees who are the backup parents for many many people here. You can’t expect people to live happily without hope. They also hid things like cutting/dropping entirely senior healthcare in their bill, and the sale of state owned power companies to private corporations, the same corporations to whom were granted huge tax cuts, which caused the financial deficits in the first place. It means we will have to -out of already near empty pockets- pay for our aging parents healthcare, or let them suffer and die while we watch. It means we’ll live under the thumb of a corporation, the likes of whom cut power midwinter on those of us who cannot keep up with the bill as energy prices rise and let us freeze, literally, to death. The ‘pure impersonal mathematics’ does not factor in all necessary variables. Until we live digitally, up in the ether, we have to deal with the hard, cold, read-blooded meat of life and the terrible costs of government and corporate inhumanity for the sake of economics.
    It is irrelevant that you and our governor are insulted by the protests, contitutionally people have the right to protest and here people will exercise those rights.
    Here, it’s not okay to let Grandma freeze to death or deny her medication – for any reason.
    It shouldn’t be okay anywhere, to anyone.
    It’s not okay to make promises (we’ll pay you less than you would at a private school, but you’ll get better benefits), then shout GREEDY TEACHERS and both snatch away pay and benefits to fund a scheme to get your out of state campaign contributors their money back through tax breaks and a sweetheart deal to purchase state owned power plants.
    It’s not okay to pretend those tax breaks were to create jobs.
    It’s not okay to threaten citizens with or replace them with the national guard because they disagree with you.
    It’s not okay to even consider sending out people to cause trouble during peaceful protests.
    It’s not okay to lock all the doors of a government building that is to remain open to the public at all times.
    It’s not okay to pass bills without all the voting representatives present, even if they are evading you.
    It’s not okay to call a meeting and close the vote before everyone can arrive to vote, even if they are evading you.
    It’s not okay to make our police officers break laws to carry out the orders of the governor.
    It’s super not okay to do any of this while being the governor, even if you are the duly elected representative.
    I usually stay the hell out of politics, beacuse it’s a viper pit, and the lies go deeper than the truth can usually find it, the deals and diplomacy and machiavellian tactics of both government and corporations, the faces they wear versus the things they do… it’s all sickening, and I tend to keep my mouth firmly shut on things I don’t understand…except to ask questions. I ask, even if they are stupid questions, even if by asking I look stupid, even if I get lies instead of answers, because I will take those answers and verify them, and if they come up tails – I go back to the source and find out why, and what the truth really is (or get a second lie and goto 10). Here I have cycled too many times, its all a bunch of lies… so people are protesting, and it’s very political, and even I have to speak up. Verbosely.

    • Word.

      Shitstorms is coming.

      Pray you’re a trillionaire by 2045 or you’re going to be slaving away powering the Blue Bloods’ orbital Villa Straylight uploaded Edens with your bio-electric blood sweat and tears with the rest of the Morlocks. Forget your “Global Brain”, welcome to the Global Foxconn Factory.

  5. When did progressive, liberal policies become entwined with Tranhumanism? I have heretofore thought the core thinking was based on Libertarian philosophies. Perhaps I need to reconsider my support.

    • Since when does Transhumanism limit itself to one sociopolitical philosophy? Cannot people of different minds evolve? Do you really want to take your ball and go home?

      • Libertarianism philosophy is based on the Non-aggression principle. Any political philosophy that doesn’t follow a similar principle combined with super technology is a dystopia. See every negative Science Fiction story ever- you’ll find the powers that be are following just about every political philosophy but a libertarian one.

        I don’t think there can be an agree to disagree on aggression and coercion.

        • Libertarianism is an attractive philosophy, but the trick is how to enforce non-aggression. In human societies lacking any government, mafias/warlords develop. There are plenty of historical examples of governments on both the left and the right veering off into severe loss of freedom. A constant balancing act is required to prevent rule by a small group of stupendous men.

          The most valuable thing on earth, and the ultimate source of power, is the human mind. Every human is born with one and they’re all about equally good. This equality of minds serves as the ultimate line of defense in efforts to keep power balanced in society.

          I used to be a Republican/libertarian but changed to a Democrat in the late 1990s, about when I turned 50, when I started to seriously consider the affect of AI and transhuman technologies on society. Once we have technology that can create minds better than human minds, then we lose the natural power balancing force of equality of minds.

          I know transhumanists who understand this and just regard it as the natural evolution of humanity to divide into an elite with the best minds and a mass who are no longer members of the Earth’s dominant species. I’d like to find a way to avoid this outcome, or at least inform humanity about it and put it up to a vote.

          • If you will excuse me, I will not regard “libertarianism” as anything more than a half-assed attempt at political philosophy. It sounds more like jungle-rule than anything else, so sorry folks…. Freedom of thought is of course a core principle of transhumanism, but I will not buy any more “libertarianism”. Especially if they support “intellectual property” and “capitalism”, which in my opinion constitute the largest barriers to a successful singularity. However, combine freedom with socialism and you might be going somewhere.

  6. Capitalism is a sub-human ideology, and thus it is a barrier to transhumanism. Nothing good has ever come out of it, and nothing good will ever.

    • Not necessarily true, although a partially agree with some of the sentiment in that statement. Industry and capitalism has got us a long way. The reason why we have laptop/desktop computers, ipods, amazing medical technology, etc. was funded by companies that found a profit margin in developing these technologies. It has been a very useful tool thus far but I also believe that capitalism is nearing the end of its useful time period. Evidence of this is all around us in bankrupt governments, failures of large corporations and banks, and the dissolving middle class.

      • On the other hand, capitalism may already have prevented a certain singularity 😛 We can’t really know for sure. I think in the long run, this is a very ineffective and inhuman mode of production, simply because it’s a system not designed to optimize our production and civilization, but to keep a few lucky people wealthy and not care about the rest. Look at the mess that USA right now is. I don’t think Moore’s law depends on capitalism. On the contrary, perhaps capitalism PREVENTS super-exponential acceleration. I believe that everyone must have the opportunity to innovate and produce, and that is the true economic spirit of transhumanism. I don’t think outdated ideologies like capitalism and communism are relevant in this regard. However, of course, information socialism is very relevant. Information has already been liberated from the chains of capitalism. Long live the Free Software Foundation! By might and intellect, the transhuman shall prevail!

        • “it’s a system not designed to optimize our production and civilization, but to keep a few lucky people wealthy and not care about the rest.”

          Capitalism is not a “system designed”. Capitalism is simply what exists in the absence of violence. If you don’t use violence to obtain another man’s stuff then you must bargain with him and thus capitalism. Regrettably so many intelligent people are convinced that you can just use violence and central planning to solve all problems.

          You mention intellectual property rights and call them capitalism. This is a misunderstanding. If I download a bunch of mp3s on the Internet then that’s not violence. If I then get arrested and ordered to pay compensation to a record company then that’s violence. So without violence there can be no intellectual property rights. True capitalism has no intellectual property rights.

          If we want a better future we have to let go of violence. That means we need to let go off such things as monopolies of violence (a.k.a. governments and states) and simply be humans. All of the few positives the governments does for humanity now, humans will still do.

          As for public education then it has gotten so bad now that you might as well unschool your kids. Unschooled kids will do just as well as public schooled kids, all else being equal. You see in public education a lot of people want to have power over the children and what they learn. This means that politics gets involved and ridiculous compromises are made on the curriculum to satisfy politics. Public school is 100 % politicized. Public school is a waste of time, the only reason why you need a diploma is for bureaucracy.

          As for the mess in America then that has 0 to do with capitalism. It is fascism that has failed. The center of capitalism is money, but sadly we don’t have capitalism when it comes to money, with money we have a centralized monopoly enforced through violence. The only money allowed in America is worthless dollars. That means that there’s no real capitalism in America. Capitalism is the absence of violence, the moment you introduce violence into the equation it stops being capitalism.

          I hope you don’t jump to the conclusion that I’m an evil, selfish bastard who wants poor people to starve to death. What I want to do is to finish college and become an engineer and then get build super efficient, multi storage, CO2 enhanced greenhouses. Once acre of such a greenhouse will produce the same amount of food as 100 acres of traditional super polluting agribusiness. Sadly I can’t, because the moment my cheap and abundant food hit the markets farmers everywhere would do protests just like in Wisconsin, and I would soon be thrown in jail.

          Capitalism is freedom. Freedom progresses technology. No capitalism, no freedom and no transhumanism.

          • I want your greenhouse, so I can sustainably grow my own food for my family here at home and minimize the pesticides and herbicides. If you ever design a smaller-than-an-acre version of your bioreactor, I’m in. Not at all kidding.

          • >Capitalism is simply what exists in the absence of violence.

            Can you give me examples of:
            1) Capitalism without central government.
            2) Capitalism without violence(either huge prison system or criminality).

            Any time in history you would like to consider.

            >So without violence there can be no intellectual property rights. True capitalism has no intellectual property rights.

            But capitalists says they want it(and strong government to enforce it). So more capitalism => more capitalists => totalitarian government.

            What you see as “wrong capitalism” i see as natural development. Monopolies is natural result for capitalism – just take a look at fast developing area: internet. We got few semi-monopolies: google, facebook, paypal etc. Winner gets all. Now imagine you’ll remove anti-monopoly laws. Do you think they will continue to be semi-monopolies?

            Anyway – fixing or replacing something natural is quite transhumanist idea.

  7. What Mark Plus said.

    I’ll add that I found the protests to be insulting. As a libertarian (small ‘L’), I’m more concerned with the dignity of the taxpayers than people who chose a job where compensation was tied to political BS. For years the public unions have negotiated with politicians (whose election campaigns were largely financed by said unions) for various types of compensation. The people who paid for the compensation had no true voice in these negotiations.

    This has continued until there was no more money to pay for the promised compensation. The politicians just kept kicking the can (debt) down the road. Now the tax revenue isn’t there anymore and the negotiated compensation going forward looks like and asymptotic curve.

    Had compensation been tied to tax revenues we wouldn’t be in this position.
    /rant off

    I written about automation- physical and intellectual for years on various boards/blogs/etc. There will be upheaval, whole swaths of industry will be wiped out in a few years. My take is that decentralization of power, food production, manufacturing, waste reclamation, etc. will offset much of the hardship. If we can get 3d printers, vat meat reactors, new battery technologies, etc. off the ground people will be more free and wealthy. I think they’ll find that government(s) will slowly fade away as well.

  8. I don’t know why everyone keeps trying to politicize this problem. It all comes down to the impersonal logic of mathematics: The current economy cannot generate enough tax money to support this politically protected interest group. Therefore the recipients have to do with less, just like people who make a living in business, myself included.

    • Wisconsin teachers and other public employees have made cuts and are willing to make more. But that’s not the point of my article, which is that humans develop technology to make life better but that the combination of technology and a pure market economy has negative effects. Taxation, regulation and collective bargaining have been moderating forces. There is a real effort by some politicians to get rid of these moderating forces and return to a pure market. I am arguing that we need these moderating forces to cope with the potential negative effects of transhumanist technologies. Also, it is not “the impersonal logic of mathematics” that taxes cannot be raised. Rather, it is a matter of opinion and a proper subject for politics.

  9. I am here too Bill. I worry that the government here is hobbling education, so our children will grow up to be workers who’ll get paid less because of the education they lack. I have hope, but I also have fear.

  10. Interesting article!
    Will the borgs and AGIs of the future have any wish to smile? I certainly hope so..

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