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mihaicl1981

Basic income -does anybody see another sustainable solution?

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Hello all.

This CR Society is also somewhat connected with the future of society.

Some of you will live actually for pretty long periods of time. 

 

All the info I have is pointing to huge inequality in the western world (US probably leading). 

This inequality will get even worse as AI evolves even further (and business chooses to lower costs). 

So far everywhere (including in my part of the world) outsourcing (China /India) is blamed. 

 

Still outsourcing is just the prequel to automation.

I am afraid killing outsourcing in US (as mr. Trump claims) will bring manufacturing back to US but to the robots.

Tesla for instance is by all means an American car .. but built largely by American robots and software engineers. 

 

Self-driving cars and trucks (Dean probably is the expert) will be here in 10 years or less (in US probably sooner). 

With the existing technology the need for humans is already pretty low . 

If you read Martin Ford's books (http://www.thelightsinthetunnel.com/ and https://ig.ft.com/sites/business-book-award/books/2015/winner/the-rise-of-the-robots-by-martin-ford) you will understand that even with 2009 technology level  there probably is no way to beat inequality.

2009 was before Watson's demonstration in Jeopardy and before AlphaGo's success in Go (actually this alone was 10 years sooner than I expected). 

 

What worries me most is that humans are not only unemployed but also unemployable .. simply not useful anymore unless they are really , really smart.

Yes as a software engineer I used to think the next 15-20 years were safe .. but with all the recent changes I am not sure at all .. 

 

So why don't we just grant anybody a basic income ? Make sure nobody (and I mean on the planet) does not drop below a certain level.  

Already the rich get this as dividends,rent , coupons from bonds and other forms of wealth creation 

As I am writing this experiments are being conducted in Finland , Canada and some countries in Asia (also in US by YCombinator). 

What do you guys think ? 

 

 

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Michael1981 (sorry, my fingers just won't type the scrambled version of your name),

 

Short of a literal revolution (which is looking more plausible all the time), a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) isn't going to happen in the US. BIG will be the obvious acronym it's opponents will use to dismiss the idea as overreaching and a horrible idea, if it ever gets seriously discussed.

 

Even calling it something more palatable to capitalists like "national profit sharing", isn't going to fly, since it would require either nationalization of companies/industries, or a corporate tax rate that no one in power would ever allow. It would be argued that it would crush our competitiveness on the world market, or something like that - whether or not that is true (it might be for all I know about economics).

 

Sadly, it's almost certain to go in the exact opposite over the next few years of Trump's rule presidency - lower taxes on the corporations and wealthy individuals, and loss of basic services like healthcare for the vulnerable in our society.

 

In short, Basic Income is a pipe dream of the left and silicon valley venture capitalists that has absolutely no chance of happening anytime soon in the US. When it gets unrolled in Europe and works well for a decade or so, and then our society really starts to rattle with popular unrest, then maybe those in power will start to think about it, from inside their barb-wired enclaves.

 

Fortunately (for human employment prospects) self-driving cars and trucks aren't happening anytime soon, especially in trucks where it is most economically and technically plausible. Paintball guns and paint-filled balloons are much too easy to come by...

 

--Dean

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To be honest since Trump got electedI lost confidence completely in humanity and the way leaders are chosen for so many people. More than US will be affected

Short term things like Brexit and Trump happen.

A bit like the dark age.

Long term changes like basic income will happen. Probably not in US were free healthcare is still not implemented.

But like slavery took years to be abolished it will take time and changes. Slavery was also considered good for the economy in some parts of the world.

 

As for self driving cars and trucks I think technology challenges will be conquered soon(ish). For me it would be a improvement although I use subway and bike

90% of the time. My confidence in human drivers is pretty low. Stupid accidents that kill people happen almost daily where I live.

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The basic income concept is already well under way in the US! It will continue to be a slow progression. The latest available data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that a record number 23 million households in the United States are now on food stamps, that's nearly 20% of US households (47,692,896 Americans on food stamps, that's more people than the entire population of Spain).  One hundred ten million Americans now live in households that receive some form of means-tested welfare benefit from the federal government. According to a report from the Census Bureau, that’s the highest absolute number in American history, and it represents 35.4 percent of the American population. Think about it — more than one out of every three Americans live in households that are now on welfare. Looked at another way, America’s welfare state now has nearly three times the population of the largest actual state.

 

"To be honest since Trump got electedI lost confidence completely in humanity and the way leaders are chosen"

Why is that?  He was running against someone perceived by many as the most corrupt candidate ever to seek office, a career politician that was embraced by a corrupt and colluding media.  This is the first time such corruption has been exposed in this way (Wikileaks) with a smug media for the first time being completely stripped of power.  This actually gives me more confidence in humanity, not less.  Next time it won't require such a nut job as Trump. 

Edited by Gordo

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I am not interested in politics. We have our own corrupt politicians in Europe (and Romania).

 

Still want to underline UBI - unconditional basic income is not similar to food stamps. 

UBI would mean everybody (including Donald Trump and Warren Buffet) would receive it. 

Actually in Romania we had at some point a basic income form but it was actually just 100$ and granted to families without other income (so welfare kind of like food stamps). 

 

As we have a average income of ~ 800$/month that is not even close to covering the basics.

Wonder how many people would be more healthy (including by practicing CR) if they didn't have to go to work everyday to jobs they (sometimes) hate. 

For me being calm and relaxed is essential to try to follow the daily diet.  Under pressure I tend to binge eat (still vegan) sweets which always affect my calories/nutrient balance in a bad way :(. 

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Gordo,

Indeed basic income is different that food stamps.

Compare those two scenarios:
1. Getting $1000 food stamps (or other social benefits). Now you start working for minimum wage and get paid $1500. 
Your total income is $1500 --> no incentive to work, as you loose benefits.
2. Getting $1000 basic income,   Now you start working for minimum wage and get paid $1500. 
Your total income is $2500 --> there is an incentive to work as it adds to your basic income.

A small but very important difference.

 

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I was just saying the concept essentially exists already.  The full blown implementation isn't going to be feasible on the scale you guys are imagining, until the rise of machines is well under way.  There are several "welfare to work" schemes in the US whereby there are incentives to keep people from being "penalized"' for working.

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I think that it is sustainable and quite inevitable as post-capitalistic societies' - where there has been enough technological innovation which puts many non-skilled and skilled workers out of a job. It's just a matter of time, that we'll move in that direction. The current system is not sustainable, and I don't buy the idea of people like Ray Kurzweil that we'll be able to create enough *new* jobs for everyone. I think more people however will move into more personal, social, and creative spaces. I highly recommend a talk by this guy below. Enjoy!

 

Edited by Matt

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The basic income concept is already well under way in the US! It will continue to be a slow progression. The latest available data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that a record number 23 million households in the United States are now on food stamps, that's nearly 20% of US households (47,692,896 Americans on food stamps, that's more people than the entire population of Spain).  One hundred ten million Americans now live in households that receive some form of means-tested welfare benefit from the federal government. According to a report from the Census Bureau, that’s the highest absolute number in American history, and it represents 35.4 percent of the American population. Think about it — more than one out of every three Americans live in households that are now on welfare. Looked at another way, America’s welfare state now has nearly three times the population of the largest actual state.

 

"To be honest since Trump got electedI lost confidence completely in humanity and the way leaders are chosen"

Why is that?  He was running against someone perceived by many as the most corrupt candidate ever to seek office, a career politician that was embraced by a corrupt and colluding media.  This is the first time such corruption has been exposed in this way (Wikileaks) with a smug media for the first time being completely stripped of power.  This actually gives me more confidence in humanity, not less.  Next time it won't require such a nut job as Trump. 

I completely agree with Gordo.

 

  --  Saul

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Create worthwhile and purposeful work. That should be a top priority. Doling out "charity", only for the really desperate like severely handicapped etc.

 

Basic Income is inevitable I think. It's just the timing has to be right.. and machines and AI aren't quite there yet.

 

You're just assuming lots of new jobs will be created when many unskilled, semiskilled, and even skilled jobs are taken. 

 

Even with Basic income, I believe most people will WANT to do meaningful work on top of what they'd get with Basic Income. If you're only just surviving, and all your mental energy is going into worrying about bills, surviving, it doesn't leave much space for creative thinking - people just get stuck for years. The idea of failure by investing time in other things while you're barely surviving isn't attractive either. Basic income wouldn't make most people lazy, I think it would do the opposite and free up their mind to be creative and follow their passions.

Edited by Matt

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Matt,

 

Basic Income is inevitable I think. It's just the timing has to be right.. and machines and AI aren't quite there yet.

 

I think you're right, as long as we don't knock ourselves back a couple centuries, or destroy ourselves entirely, which unfortunately is within the realm of possibility, now more than every...

 
Matt wrote (my emphasis):

Even with Basic income, I believe most people will WANT to do meaningful work on top of what they'd get with Basic Income...

Basic income wouldn't make most people lazy, I think it would do the opposite and free up their mind to be creative and follow their passions.

 

Here too I (mostly) agree. But rather than call it "work", I'd suggest that most people will want to be "meaningfully engaged" even if/when their basic needs are met with a Universal Basic Income. 

 

I'm not sure about "most people", but I can tell you (with humble gratitude for the good fortune life has shown me), that I find myself in precisely the "post-scarcity" scenario that people hope our entire society can one day attain, in which everyone shares in the technology-generated abundance. I've been lived in semi-retirement since 2006 when at age 42 I sold my tech company. I have pretty modest material needs/ambitions and thankfully my wife is pretty frugal as well. So barring a financial calamity that impoverishes our entire country, we can live comfortably for the remainder of our natural lives on the proceeds of that windfall.

 

I can honestly say I've never been busier or more engaged with "projects" than during the last 10 years since I "retired". Except for some tragic events a couple years ago, I can also say I've never been happier. 

 

So I can't speak for everyone, and in fact I strongly suspect this won't be true for everyone - but for me, the equivalent of a very comfortable Basic Income has been wonderfully freeing. It has enable me to pursue whatever intellectual (or physical) challenges that spark my interest. There is an unlimited and ever-growing number of things to learn and try, so I never seem to get bored.

 

But that's me. I think the individual impact of a sudden disappearance of the need to work will depend a lot on the temperament and proclivities of the individual. I know several people (relatives) who I strongly suspect would be quite happy (at least for a while) to sit on the couch, and watch TV or play videogames all day, if suddenly released from the burden of work. I could be wrong, but I suspect they might get sick of it after a while, and I'm not sure they'd be resourceful or motivated enough to figure out something better (i.e. more gratifying) to do with their time.

 

So I'm at all sure that even a comfortable UBI would be the best thing for everyone. Before we get there, I think we'll need to at least:

  1. Make sure we've got the basic safety need required to protect all from the slings and arrows of life. Heck, we can't even get universal healthcare, even for children. How are we supposed to get to UBI?
  2. Foster many more non-work outlets to engage people, especially those who aren't intellectual types, and so don't much enjoy learning, reading etc.
  3. Change our society's attitudes towards younger people who don't work, from the suspicion and resentment that we express towards them today.

Needless to say, those are huge social, political and economic changes. It's not clear to me that Western society, especially American society, is prepared to make them within the timeframe we've got before AI & robots come for all the jobs. It's sad to say, but a society that (at least on paper and in philosophy) is more egalitarian, like China, might be in a better position to make the transition to a basic income, especially since China' top-down economy could simple implement a UBI without nearly as much resistance as would occur if it were promoted by those in leadership positions in the US anytime in the next decade.

 

Fortunately, it's not right around the corner, since we've got enough socio-political turmoil on our plate right now...

 

This morning I starting thinking about how several of the challenges we're facing strike me as what Artificial Intelligence (AI) researchers call the "Value Alignment Problem" - otherwise known in more casual conversation as the advice to "be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."

 

The classic description of this in AI circles is Bostrom's "Paperclip Maximizer" - the idea that a company that manufacturers paperclips we might give a superintelligent (or soon to be superintelligent) AI the seemingly innocuous task of maximizing the number of paperclips it produces. As the story goes, the AI discovers the best way to maximize paperclip production is to take over the world and turn everything (including us) into paperclips. This rather scary story elicited from AI-safety researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky the quote:

 

The AI does not hate you, nor does it love you, but you are made out of atoms which it can use for something else.

 

People (like TomB) often poke holes in such dystopian scenarios, often on solid grounds. Surely we'd "pull the plug" long before things got that bad - right?

 

But there are several, more-subtle and pressing examples of "value alignment problems" that could be just as (well almost as) insidious as a runaway paperclip maximizer.

 

The seemingly inexorable march of progress in technology and AI may be just such a "be careful what you wish for" gotcha. If humanity isn't cognitively and socially prepared to deal with the repercussions of the sudden elimination of jobs and the need to work, things could go downhill fast. And ill-effects wouldn't necessarily be simply a result of runaway inequality and the inability on the part of the destitute majority to meet their basic needs.

 

Even if we somehow manage to figure out a way to institute a basic income that can allow everyone to live comfortably without working, I'm pretty convinced that at least right now, there are many people who aren't cognitively and emotionally ready to be "unmoored" from work in this way. Just consider the fact that the risk of clinical depression increases by 40% upon retirement, even after controlling for differences in physical health and despite the fact that most people say they are looking forward to "kicking back" in retirement. Lots of people just don't know what to do with all that extra time - so retirement seems like a classic case of "careful what you wish for" at least for some people. UBI may be similar, only more so.

 

[ Just as a tease -

 

I think an argument can be made that the "fake news" problem on social media (particularly Facebook), which has been the object of my scorn lately, is another "Value Alignment Problem".  In short, we told Facebook (through our views, likes, and shares) that we valued salacious, over-the-top, news stories that confirm our political biases independent of the truth or falsity of the news story (e.g. "Pope Endorses Trump!" or "Hillary Exposed as Paedophile!" or "Madonna Offers Oral Sex to Any Hillary Voter!" - only the last of which happens to be true...).

 

Not surprisingly, Facebook was all-too-happy to give us more of that stuff, with the assistance of clever kids in Macedonia who generated a lot of the fake news. We didn't realize how divisive and seductive such fake material could be, and we are (or soon will be) paying for it, in the form of a President who, to put it charitably, takes truth very lightly. Note - I'm not saying fake news was the whole reason Trump got elected. Far from it. See my many posts on the Dysfunctional US Politics thread for excruciatingly detailed discussion of what happened, what's happening, and what we might do about it moving forward. But I do believe fake news played a part in electing Trump, and it was a case of "careful what you wished for" from our technology.

 

Obviously the sudden onset of indefinite life extension could be another such "gotcha" if society isn't prepared for it.

 

For anyone who wants to learn more about the Value Alignment Problem in the context of AI, I highly recommend this new 90min Sam Harris podcast episode in which Sam interviews famous (and cautious) AI researcher Stewart Russell.

 

But more on this stuff soon in another post - please don't respond to the fake news stuff here. Stick to basic income. I'll post more about other value alignment problems soon elsewhere, and link to it from here when I do.

]

 

--Dean

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OMG We are such a stupid species. Handed the gift of reason and we ignore it to our detriment. We could I really beleive create something akin to a paradise. Not totally of course but imagine if say there were only 50 million of us On the whole planet. Birth control incentives for a few generation could accomplish this and the environmental problem would be resolved and each human could live a luxorious lifestyle. Peace would be a cinch because the natural resources would be so plentiful why fight over them. I have become almost a total pessimist wrt the human race. We are heading for disaster!

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For anyone interested in Universal Basic Income, I just had an thought-provoking debate on Twitter last night with Mr. UBI himself, Scott Santens.

 

Here is one fork of the conversation, and here is the other.

 

Basically Scott is quite optimistic that UBI would solve our social problems, and that everyone will find fulfilling, pro-social activities to engage in once everyone is "unmoored" from the need to work. I argue that Scott's perspective is naive and pollyanne-ish. Even if today we could raise taxes enough to pay everyone a UBI sufficient to live on, a substantial fraction of the population wouldn't know what to do with themselves, and would either become depressed (like many retirees) or become militant & tribal, as we saw during the recent election.

 

For the most part, we simply aren't cognitively prepared as individuals, or socially prepared as a culture, to cope with the disruptive effects of a post-work world, regardless of what "UBI now!" proponents (like Scott) seem to think.

 

--Dean

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@Dean :  

I kind of like Mr. Scott Santens posts.

 

Well the issue with basic income and not knowing what to do with ourselves is quite debatable. 

The same argument must have been made about slaves. They we're too "stupid" to  handle their own lives without their protective masters. 

How could they continue to work without the whip ? How could they know when to eat and how to work the land and how to build the houses? 

Does anybody even question this now ? 

 

Perhaps we can improve our education (say get a master of PhD). Perhaps even work on really important stuff (curing cancer and other killer diseases).

Consider how many extremely smart individuals are working on these problems (vs say investment banking, cat photos searching (Facebook,Google))

Improving our own intelligence would be extremely important (but sadly there is no magic pill (NZT-48) that will do this). Is anybody working on this  except the pharmaceutical companies (profit driven/short sighted as usual) ?

Please read this (already old) series to understand what I mean : http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

 

 

Is  this naive ? Maybe .. 

 

How about the concept of interest and dividends ? Is it not the same problem ? Basically this is also "free" money meaning we don't work for it. 

Owning stock in a corporation (or a set of corporations) that do not hire a lot of people and pay you dividends is the same as "basic income". 

Owning a house (that you probably inherited) and renting it out to people is the same.

And nobody ever (in US probably nobody in next 100 years) has any complaint about stocks and bonds(not to mention real-estate). I am not complaining either .. getting 1-10% of my investment back  each year is good.  What is wrong with rising the level for everybody ? Basically it's a win-win situation.

 

PS: As we have a few free days in Romania I am reading a lot of books on investing ("Snowball"  about Warren Buffet's life is one of them).  Most people that were expert investors were driven by the concept of being independent and free. 

For me it's sad that a very smart guy like Warren Buffet is not doing something better for humanity.Bill Gates at least is trying after retiring(better than nothing).

Edited by mihaicl1981

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Mihaicl1981,

 

I'll readily acknowledge I could be wrong about human nature, and I admire your (and Scott's) optimism about the net positive social impact of a universal basic income. But having seen how naive I was about the stability of social order (not to mention rational behavior) in the US, I'm now very cautious about making predictions on how people would react to significant events. And events don't get much bigger than unmooring everyone from the need to work to earn a living.

 

Please read this (already old) series to understand what I mean : http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

 

Oh yes, I read Manna a while back, and I really enjoyed it. Funny enough, I just tweeted about it and wrote about here on the Singularity thread thread 3-days ago. Needless to say, I'm skeptical of Marshal's utopian vision in the second half of the book. 

 

Unfortunately, we may get the chance sooner than you think to experience the first (dystopian) half. The consulting firm Accenture is developing the exact type of AI-based "manager" that was called was called Manna in the book by that title. The Manna / Accenture AI whispers in the ear of low-skilled workers exactly what step to perform next via a headset each of them wears. No training required. Every employee becomes a bio-robot, and is interchangeable. So they can be paid next to nothing because there are plenty of hungry, unemployed people desperate to serve as bio-robots. See that post for discussion of what Accenture is doing, and where it could lead. Hint - I don't see anyone with any credibility (or cash) leading the charge to Australia and turn it into a socialist utopia anytime soon. California succeeding? Yea right... If anything, I see resentful masses ganging together to throw rocks at the Google bus

 

In short, I'm skeptical that US society is ready for a UBI, either economically, socially or psychologically. Given our current political climate, there isn't anyway it is going to happen soon. In fact, we're almost certain to go the other way under the Trump administration. We are going our leaders shredding the social safety net, rather creating a tighter one.

 

Hold onto your seats ladies and gentleman. The ride is about to get rougher for a lot of people.

 

Finally,

For me it's sad that a very smart guy like Warren Buffet is not doing something better for humanity.Bill Gates at least is trying after retiring(better than nothing).

 

Warren Buffett pledged in 2006 to give his fortune away, and has been doing so (to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) ever since, along with a few other billionaires. So don't pick on Warren.

 

--Dean

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Well not picking on Warren. I am picking on the fact he could have used his intellect for better things. Actually I really like the old man.

 

Regarding Manna .. I read it  a few times and while I am not sure about the VR part and head in the box part I am quite sure that the "Australia project" (or basic income) would really be a huge support for science and research. Again maybe way too naive .. I suppose most people do it more for the money than the fame.

 

Getting back to CR .. it is a lot easier to do it in weekend and holidays. 

Usually I try to mix in daily limited fasting (not eating after 13.00) but it's quit difficult when I am at work. 

Stress (especially due to deadlines) can be harmful (especially to my diet). 

I am sure that following CR is a lot easier for retired folks (unfortunately I am still 29 years away from the mandatory retirement age).

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I read this thread with much interest. I have things to say, but for the moment, regarding CR, although I don't have a daily job I find myself too busy and short of time to eat much... I am always amazed at how insanely occupied I am while saving probably 10 hours a day which most people give to other people in order to make enough to keep a roof over their head, pay bills and eat... I am also amazed at how other people claim to be bored when we live in such fascinating times with so much to learn and think about. Looks like so many are just lost in some brainless smartphone universe... Hey, maybe if people didn't have to work, most would just spend all their time on their smartphones, "socializing" and this would solve any possible problem with people have nothing to do and turning to anti-social activities.

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Relating to basic income over here on the "Dysfunctional US Politics" thread, TomB posted a really depressing video of how poorly maintained everything is in China. People just don't seem to give a sh*t.

 

I dislike playing the pessimist, but in that post I speculate about perverse incentives and how a UBI in this country could result in something frighteningly similar, if not implemented with forethought as to how people are likely to react if the government simply gives them money for doing nothing.

 

--Dean

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Not much to add, other than Sam Harris's podcast has covered a lot of the things talked about in this thread recently. It's called Waking Up and can be found on iTunes.

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A few days ago a new 55 inch 4k TV with built in Roku arrived from a cyber Monday deal I could not pass up. At a cost of $340, I had low expectations despite the good reviews.  After it finally arrived, I calibrated it, and got some 4k demo material to display, I was very impressed by the stunning picture, visually anyway, it is like being there in person -- this is the first time such a thing could be experienced in human history, simulated worlds that look real, and the cost of the tech is next to nothing, even the energy requirement is next to nothing.  Where am I going with this?  Well I've also had a chance to try some of the newer virtual reality headsets - these have a fun "wow" factor to them, they aren't there yet, but you can see the groundwork has been laid already, now it's merely a matter of improving the resolution, bandwidth, and processing power, then adding haptic feedback suits for a more true to life experience.  Simulated world video games have very advanced and capable engines already.  My point is that we are extremely close, technologically speaking, to having truly immersive and realistic simulated worlds.  For almost no cost, people will be able to live out their every fantasy, experience ultimate thrills and adventures, live like the rich, famous, and beautiful, travel, or do anything else their heart desires in a virtual world.  While many will be content to just experience things, others will want to build and share their creations (not unlike the minecraft phenomenon).  

 

Who knows, at some point in the future these systems may even be able to directly tap into the brain or central nervous system and do all sorts of amazing things like simulate eating your favorite foods or emotions like euphoria/orgasm.

 

Where I'm going with this is that I believe at some point in the near future a person will be able to live what they consider to be a great life, on very little income.  Further into the future, the simulated world will only get better and better.  People may even become healthier as they replace eating junk food with less destructive simulated pleasure seeking.  If machines are growing crops and transporting them to us, and building perfectly adequate housing and transportation, all of which can pretty much already be done today, there really is not much requirement for humans to "work".  Old ideas about everyone needing to be productive to have fulfillment might disappear as the stigma of being unemployed fades.   For the group left that really does need to be productive to find fulfillment, I'm sure there will still be plenty of jobs, and of course there will always be a need for scientists and researchers pushing the ever expanding limits of human knowledge and capabilities (life extension research, space travel, and intelligent machines included).  This will likely be very good for Earth's environment as well by the way.  Perhaps one of the biggest struggles will be to entice higher IQ people to contribute towards real progress instead of "checking out"...

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Really good observation Gordo.

 

I've got two 24" monitors & a 42" TV (with Chromecast) sitting on / above my bike desk, and I'm virtually immersed in the digital world all day. I can very much see other people headed that way too. How good such a lifestyle is for the individual, and for society at large, remains to be seen. But for now I've got so may projects I'm working on, it seems the best way to go.

 

Controversially, I interact much more with people online these days than anyone in real life, including (sadly) my family.

 

--Dean

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Talking about technology .. I am typing this on my new Bluetooth keyboard connected to my Nexus 7. In 2000 only after huge sacrifices and savings(college) I was able to purchase a used Pentium 1 computer. I learned to code C++ on that one.

Now 15 years later I own one smartphone, one ultrabook(Asus Zenbook), two tablets (one work provided) and a desktop (dual-monitor setup).

The sad thing is that I think I coded much more at home on that Pentium 1 (133 MHz I think) and did some part time projects . it's true I did play some Red alert 1 games as well.

Now I am still coding/testing stuff at home but not nearly as much.

You get used to stuff(especially good stuff) very easily. I think It's called hedonic adaptation.

 

Getting back to the basic income stuff. Would a poor student be able to do much more than a (luckily still) employed software engineer if he didn't need to actually question money ?

I was forced to work hard to get a scholarship (not huge in Romania) and save. What if I got the computer for free ?

I think I would have still used it . I had to use a friend's computer + university computers (back then they still had 286-386 processors).

PS: I was even considering buying a netbook to code on the subway but I think enough is enough :)

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