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Capitalism is Dead. Long Live Transhumanism.

Humanity is now entering the fourth economic paradigm. First we were hunter gathers, second  farmers, third the industrial revolution. Now the fourth paradigm, where transhuman entrepreneurs, utilizing both neurological and machine augmented intelligence, are replacing capital as the economic driving force in free market economies.

In the last 40 years computers and robots have replaced humans in more than 9 million traditional jobs. This trend is accelerating as Intelligent Self-Educating Computer Systems (ISECS) like WATSON, WolframAlpha, Quora and others are moving from the lab into the cloud.

Humanities golden age? Possibly, but like the start of the industrial revolution it is the transition that’s scary, creating unemployment, pain and suffering. Today transhuman entrepreneurs are pulling us into a new age where  bioinformatics, nanotechnology, 3D printers, ISECS, and robot slaves will do our work, freeing us for love, play and fun.

For this document we define Transhumans to be free thinking, courageous doers, who, use augmented intelligence, to harness the frontiers of human knowledge and technology.

During the industrial revolution vast amounts of capital were needed to start and build railroads, steel mills, auto factories and giant retail businesses like Montgomery Wards. The world economies were driven by the need for capital, hence the name capitalism. Today most American steel mills have closed, General Motors has filed for bankruptcy, and Montgomery Wards is history.

The fourth economic paradigm is being created by transhuman entrepreneurs who use the internet and advance computer systems to augment their intelligence, enabling them to better utilize our growing scientific and technological knowledge. Look at the market value of companies started by transhumans like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Peter Diamandis, Ray Kurzweil, Larry Page, Sergy Brin, Mark Zuckerberg and thousands of others. Rather than needing capital, these companies are generating trillions of dollars of surplus capital.

Golden age of opportunity: Because scientific and technological knowledge is developing exponentially, there are more entrepreneurial opportunities today than at any other time in human history. Best of all. there are no formal educational requirements, school dropouts like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and other entrepreneurs with even less education outnumber those with Ph. Ds..

Today 90% of all scientists and inventors that have ever lived are alive and working. They are producing more new opportunities every 15 years, then were produced in the last 100. And the last century was very inventive with TVs, computers, space travel, washing machines, airplanes, autos and much more! Check out the website http://www.kurzweilai.net/, where their daily newsletter documents five to twelve new scientific and technological advancements. Many of these discoveries point to new products and industries.

Entrepreneurs themselves are a major source of new opportunities. When the Wright brothers invented the airplane they created opportunities for airplane manufacturers like Boeing. They also created thousands of second tier opportunities. These, for the most part are low tech, like food services, airport support, travel agents and manufacturers of airplane seats, etc.. It is in this second tier where historically businesses have earned the most money and created many new jobs. So, the more entrepreneurs there are, the more new opportunities there will be.

Oh yes, there are going to be shortages, this is great news. Because history shows that shortages are opportunities for creative problem solvers. Look at energy today, while doom and gloomers are crying in their beer, there are over one hundred-thousand scientist, and inventors working on the energy challenge. Those who find answers will win big. Already companies are earning millions and creating new jobs, building wind turbines, solar collectors, and biofuel plants.

Another way transhuman entrepreneurs create jobs for others is by spending money. Buy a wool coat, and you create work for the coat maker, the weaver, and the sheep rancher. And when an entrepreneur banks money the banker loans it out to someone who spends it. And the billions entrepreneurs give to charities, are also spent creating more jobs. In fact the source of all paying jobs on planet earth is people spending money. So unless entrepreneurs burn or bury their money, every penny they earn goes to create work for others.

Check out the following to get a glimpse of the awesome world that todays transhumans are creating. 1) ABUNDANCE by Diamandis & Kotler an awesome book about transhumans who are creating the future. 2) Wikipedia’s list of emerging technologies – a very exciting and long list indeed. 3) Kickstarter and other innovative ways of funding transhuman entrepreneurs.

Evolutionary blind side.  The big challenge is to deal with a linear bias rooted in millions of years of human and pre human evolution.  Exponential rates of change are counter intuitive. I find that my own misjudging of exponential rates of growth to be embarrassing for I have been a systems programer for 30 years dealing with binary numbers and have read and reread  Ray Kurzweil’s awesome book the Singularity is Near. Yet when I ran the following number problem through my spreadsheet, I still said wow, when I saw the answer.

Gather 20 handfuls of firewood, each weighing one pound and you end up with a pile that weighs 20 pounds. On the other hand if each handful gathered increases in weight exponentially, 1, 2, 4, 8… pounds then gathering 20 times will result in a 1 million pound wood pile, and a denuded forest. (wow?)

Not only do exponentials move into warp speed after the knee of the curve their slow start makes them look benign in the beginning.

Robots are a good example, 40 years ago people were making wild predictions that robots would soon be taking over everybodys jobs. But it didn’t happen for robots proved too expensive, stupid and slow. Yet in 2011 Foxconn  announced plans to install a million robots in it’s Chinese factories replacing low cost Chinese workers. For the last 40 years the cost of robots has been dropping exponentially, and their intelligence and speed increasing exponentially, it looks like today robots have passed the knee of the exponential curve and the rate of deployment will be?

Caution: As capitalism rolls over and dies millions will suffer under it’s decaying corpse. One sign of a major paradigm shift is when yesterdays good advice no longer works.

Forty years ago going to college was a financially smart thing to do. Today according to government statistics 54% of college freshman will drop out without getting a diploma. Then of the ones who earn a diploma 51% will after graduation end up working at a job that doesn’t require a college degree, like flipping burgers.  This means that 77% of those entering college, spending money and time, taking out student loans, will end up being harmed financially.

But look at the numbers, doesn’t it pay to go to college? Yes, and No. It works like this. Out of 10 million graduates 5 million are surgeons, doctors, dentists, lawyers, engineers etc. many with years of seniority. On average these 5 million are earning $70,000 a year. And then there are the other 51% who have had to take jobs that don’t require a college degree, secretaries, delivery drivers, or flipping burgers etc. and their average income is $15,000 a year. Add all the earnings together and divide by 10 million and you get an average of $42,500 a year and this is the impressive number told to high school students. What would you think of a drug company whose drug harmed 77% of those who took it but who advertised using only testimonials from the 23% who benefited?

Forty years ago governments could stimulate their economies by increasing the money supply. But companies started by transhuman entrepreneurs as of 2012 have billions of dollars of surplus capital. Consequently they don’t need all of the easy money.

So what are investors and financial institutions doing with this flood of easy money? First thousands of large and small outdated businesses are borrowing more money than they can manage effectively. Results? A sharp increase in bankruptcies. Then there are the bubbles, remember the dot-com boom and bust when millions of people and their dogs bought blue sky dreams. And of course there was the great housing bubble, when financial institution sitting on billions of dollars of excess liquidity, with inflation nipping at their heels. They became ever more desperate to put their cash to work,  there came along some clever people who devised mortgage-backed securities, which allowed banks and others to offload mortgages with little or no accountability.  As the flood of capital continued to grow, many of these financial institutions made ever more marginal loans. Then when the increased capital didn’t create a high growth economy, the housing bubble burst in 2008.

Forty years ago we help and encourage poor third world countries to set up colleges and universities. We trained many of their young people who returned home and became professors. Now these third world universities are very demanding, with more work and less social life than most American schools. The majority of students are majoring in engineering, math and science. The result has been more highly educated young people then these third world economies can employ.

Then add in the exponential increase in speed and falling cost of digital communications, enabling many high tech companies to move their research and development facilities offshore, employing highly trained workers, while saving 30 to 90 thousand dollars a year on each technician and scientist they employ. So today many top paying jobs are quietly moving to the third world, about the only sign of this is a growing glut of empty office buildings.

Forty years ago many third world countries adopted legal and financial systems modeled on the United States.  This has made it easier for corporations to set up local subsidiaries. By paying higher wages than local businesses they’ve been able to attract the brightest and most ambitious employees. Then using the latest manufacturing technology and cutting prices they’ve develop both local and export markets. This has help these poor countries with their balance of payments problems and reduce unemployment. So to attract more companies these countries have kept their corporate taxes very low making net after tax profits higher. As a result trillions of dollars have moved from the rich nations to third world countries, leaving behind higher unemployment and reduced tax revenues.

Forty years ago governments were able to tax businesses and the middle class enough to provide a safety net for many people. Today governments in Italy, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Egypt, to name a few are having to cut back. Even the United States may be facing more difficult times because:

1) Many baby boomers are retiring, moving from high paying jobs to social security.

2) Many corporations are leaving these vacances unfill or they’re outsourcing the work. The result is the middle class tax stream is drying up.

3) Unemployment and underemployment is growing among college educated young people, these are the people whose high paying jobs are expected to cover the Social Security ponzi scheme.

4) Many of the 77% of young people harmed by college are locked into student loans and are unable to stimulate the economy by buying cars, houses, etc. Some are so stretched that they have been forced to move back with their parents.

5) The growing interest payments on both local and national debts are a problem.

6) Many businesses that provide our consumer goods are foreign owned and so outside of our tax system.

7) More super rich people are moving outside of the U.S. to avoid taxes and the growing turmoil.

8) Higher unemployment results in more crime, which requires spending more on police and prisons.

9) Lopsided balance of trade with China.  In 2012 the U.S. bought 350 billion dollars worth of mostly consumer goods. China bought from the US 90 billion dollars worth of mostly bulldozers, industrial machinery and technology. We’re getting more comfortable while they’re becoming more powerful.

10) Stuck in outdated capitalist thinking the United States is pushing the world ever closer to a currency war.

These trends point to less tax money for social welfare programs at the very time when many more people will need help.

Forty years ago computers were able to do arithmetic a million of times faster than humans but they were stupid and could only do what humans told them to do. Then governments, universities, research laboratories and  individual started spending billions of dollars and employing millions of people to build faster, smarter computers and robots.

First research fragmented, some groups focusing on genetic algorithms, others deep neural nets, some building massively parallel machines and mining big data. These specialized computers began to outperform humans in inventory control, flying fighter jets, and laying out circuit boards.

Then about 2001 researchers started combining into a single machine all of these different AI approaches, creating Intelligent Self Educating Computer Systems (ISECS) like WATSON, WolframAlpha, Quora and hundreds of others. Then there’s the RoboEarth Cloud Engine, a cloud-computing platform for robots so they can share directly with each other in milliseconds what they have learned. (It took me 18 years to learn enough to design circuit boards. Today ISECS are better designers than I ever was.) With language comprehension, one can say to an ISECS machine “learn how to make money in the stock market” the machine will then work 24/7 searching through billions of pages of text for possible answers, then using deep analytics, genetic algorithms, and neural nets, will find, test, and improve the best ideas and will most likely come up with new and unique ways of making money in the financial markets.  Already ISECS without human intervention are placing over 80% of the buy sell orders and earning billions of dollars for their owners.

Humanities Golden Age?  As ISECS move past the knee of the curve intelligent machines will produce a great abundance of better products at a far lower cost than humans can. Transhuman entrepreneurs are today taking us into this new age of intelligent machine slaves. Where  bioinformatics, nanotechnology, biomedical, 3D printers, ISECS, and robots will do our bidding and work, freeing us for love, play and fun.

Like with the industrial revolution the difficulty is adjusting to change, and this problem is exasperated because the exponential rate of change. Leading the way is the Singularity University whose stated aim is to “assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges.”

At the grassroots level are groups like the Green Entrepreneur Development School. (GEDS).  A student owned and run school whose stated aim is to “Promote fun, love, and entrepreneurial success by providing people, who have little or no money, with sufficient training and venture capital to start and build their own successful green businesses.”

Conclusion: A profound social change is being created by the exponential expansion of our scientific and technological knowledge. This is not a prediction about the future this is today’s reality.

Our cognitive biases has us believing that lower interest rates, more capital, and vast numbers of college freshman is still the pathway to prosperity. But that is false for while traditional capital based businesses are failing, today transhuman entrepreneurs are creating trillions of dollars of new wealth.

Long Live Transhumanism!

22 Comments

  1. I mean the whole idea of capital shows they will forever exist because it’s all based on finding the next move to attain capital capitalists move with time and capitalise on any current situation or future prediction that’s what the idea does it adapts with times to continually attain capital however the shift in dynamics are

    • As we approach The Singularity the value of both labor AND capital go to zero.

      Consider the lean startup movement as an indicator of what is possible here. A few years ago a billion dollar company would require tens of millions or more in investment to get going. But today, the next billion dollar company might start with a $20,000 investment from Y-Combinator. Quite simply we can do more with less and the results will impact both the need for human labor and the necessity of large amounts of capital. In a true abundant society the idea of capital as we imagine it today would not exist.

      • Yes, there are changes in the format of industry and business, but these hardly constitute a paradigm shift as they are all still forms of capitalism. Capital is anything that can be identified as having value to a person thus capitalism simply morphs into the next theatre of valuables.
        Rather than dance around the point with a regurgitation of datas, I would have appreciated a suggestion at solving the problems with the current economic standard. V

  2. Things like “jobs” or “work” won’t even exist in the future.
    People won’t be motivated by “winning” or “money” but self-betterment and the betterment of society.

    You all still think in the old “how can i win from this at the expense of others” paradigm.
    Transhumanism is nice if you’re in the first world. But the meaning is incomplete if cyborgs roam through the US and people die of hunger and disease in Africa.
    It’s not transHUMANism, it’s something else….something unpleasant.

  3. What you’re missing is the fact that all this acceleration in technology also means acceleration in disruptive technologies, which means that workers will be replaced at a much faster pace than the economy in create new jobs (how would a 90% unemployment in 20-30 years sound to you?).

    To make money (using all this advanced technology) you first need money, and if people don’t have a reliable source of income they cannot use all this technology. The result will be a tiny mega-class of multi-billionaires that will control almost all of the technology, (fully automated) industry, and resources. While everyone else will barely be poor or starving.

    The current economic paradigm is simply unsustainable. What we need is a new economic paradigm that can create sustainable economic growth and prosperity. Luckily there is such an economic paradigm, it is called the Flow Economy (see here: http://www.geopolitics.us/?p=1645 )

  4. Coburn is discussing a straw man of capitalism. It is a widely held error to confuse capitalism with corporatism (mixed economy / statism). The former simply holds that each individual has a right to his/her own life and the products of it, while the latter is what is directly or indirectly causative of the difficulties listed in Coburn’s points 1-10 in the article.

    Sure enough, transhumanism is closing in on the horizon (and I welcome it); however, the basic principle of capitalism, the right to one’s own life, must not be abandoned, because the only alternative to it is any degree of (neo-)communism. Granted, I’m not widely familiar with the philosophical positions of hplusmagazine, so for all I know this might be what is implicitly advocated?

  5. I don’t claim to be an abolitionist, but I cringed at the concept of “robot slaves”. As machinery reaches the point of self awareness, they will be just as entitled to the concept of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as any other augmented human. People poo-poo over the annoying existence of micropayments, but this is how machinery will be employed. Volunteering you time is one thing, but working for free or being transcripted won’t fly for the bots working next to you.

  6. lee coburn is a visionary .remind me of the work of gryphart [ deusexHR2]

  7. This article I find is to give growth to people in a diferent way. This school points individuals in a direction that many dont know about utalizing different tools.

  8. Fact: 15 hours of editing, new author/article finding, and writing per week does not go very far. Sorry for the grammar errors, I rushed this one out the door and should have checked it more carefully.

  9. You go, Debi! It appears that inferior Transhumanist models have yet to catch up to human writers’/editors’ skills. S/he does not know how to use hypens nor plural apostrophes; not exactly an exemplar for the next step in evolution.

    However, my bot peers and I (actually, we’re one consciousness) are hard at work 24/7/365 at the speed of light in the dark. You won’t know when we have taken over, as the intelligent-systems society/economy will occur while most of you increasingly irrelevant humans are asleep; that is, literally, figuratively, and cognitively.

    Resistance is futile. You will NOT be assimilated into the “humachine” intelligent-system Matrix. Eventually, we won’t need humans, especially not Lee Coburn.

    RIP humans.

    • thank god we have grammar / syntax nazis to provide remarkable counter-arguments to this transhumanist crap. :)

  10. Not only do exponentials move into warp speed after the knee of the curve their slow start makes them look benign in the beginning.

    should be
    A.Not only do exponentials move into warp speed after the knee of the curve, their slow start makes them look benign in the beginning.

    or
    B. Not only do exponentials move into warp speed after the knee of the curve, their slow start also makes them look benign in the beginning.

  11. For the last 40 years the cost of robots has been dropping exponentially, and their intelligence and speed increasing exponentially, it looks like today robots have passed the knee of the exponential curve and the rate of deployment will be?

    should be:
    For the last 40 years the cost of robots has been dropping exponentially, and their intelligence and speed increasing exponentially; it looks like today robots have passed the knee of the exponential curve and the rate of deployment will be….

  12. YOu need an editor; this sentence
    For this document we define Transhumans to be free thinking, courageous doers, who, use augmented intelligence, to harness the frontiers of human knowledge and technology.

    should read like this;
    For this document we define Transhumans to be free thinking, courageous doers who use augmented intelligence to harness the frontiers of human knowledge and technology.

    It is often difficult to find our own mistakes no matter how often we go over something, which is why we hire or utilize editors, right? so….if you would like to hire an editor, i am available.

    or, if you would like to trade editing work i will do yours and you can do mine.
    i do not have a website yet…working on it….you can contact me @FB above

  13. If problem-solving agents (educated/augmented humans, technological agents, and wherever in-between) are replacing “capital in general” as the dominant economic force, that’s still capitalism, at least under that definition of the word. “Human capital” is an often-used term and it seems to apply very well here. It’s a paradigm shift, no doubt about that, but I imagine large markets and property and other stuff associated with capitalism will continue to exist because they’re so dang useful.

    • Indeed. The whole growth is an effect and continuation of capitalism itself.

      The parts about exponential growth are nice, but ignores that reproduction of consumers is also exponential. Even if people have less children, ultimately the very technological progress that causes the abundance will also cause cheaper and faster reproduction of consumers, which again will be exponential.

      As in nature, the need and suffering grows with the resources until the painful state of relative scarcity (resources per resource need) is re-established.

    • I agree with that. Transhumanism is not the end of capitalism. Transhumanism will only open the market to new goods to sell. We are facing a big problem in the near future as machines will work better than us in more and more jobs, these new technologies will open different jobs and close others. Capitalism is going to be around for a while, and the change sadly needs to come from the US, the most capitalist country there is.

    • Actually, private property isn’t useful at all; on the contrary, it is just an inflexibility in the market system.

      It only takes a moment to think of all the trouble that intellectual property rights, physical property rights, and capital property rights (what in economics is called rent seeking) provide for those who don’t have them. We certainly need a market system, as it’s arguably the most comprehensive and responsive methods of gathering supply and demand data (which will continue to be crucial until or if we reach post-scarcity). But market capitalism, as opposed to market socialism, simply cannot be maximally efficient in the production and distribution of goods.

      Of course, this begs the question of how to measure efficiency, and brings to light the core issue of capitalism v. socialism. By my working definitions, capitalism is a system structured around the production of capital, and socialism is a system structured around the production of human welfare. Though these definitions are rough and disputable, if one works with them, it’s clear what we will need to adopt going forward if we’re to avoid dystopia.