ideal population goals

Yes this is the goal to create a high GDP. But, people do what they want, people are lazy, and a whole myriad of other things. Also, what is talent? What is utility? Some view one or both in lenses other than GDP. Finally, there is the science vs arts argument. Should we push more engineers or encourage an aspiring actor to follow their dreams? These are some of the many questions of an inner fabric of society in a particular country.

“Lead one astray” from what exactly? Are you saying there is one right answer that we are being led astray from? I think it’s useful to examine the extremes to get a sense of what the range of less extreme possibilities might be.

I think there is a real chance of some sort of revolution or civil war in the US over the next 40 years (but probably not the next 10): however it’s uncertain whether it would be a revolution from below or a preemptive coup from above. The concentration of weath and the political power that it controls is basically undermining the social contract that underpins our sense of political obligation (i.e. why should we be law-abiding if there is any ability not to be). When enough people start asking why (aside from fear of reprisal) one should participate in a system where the vast majority are net losers and made to feel that way, then a major question becomes how to neutralize capacities for reprisal.

I think it’s fascinating question is whether an economy that simply consisted of the 1% + robots for labor could survive?

Then compare that to an economy where the 1% disappears and the 99% remain (either with or without redistribution of the 1%'s assets). Could that one survive?

Another intriguing aspect of the thought experiment is that both versions (eliminate the 1% and eliminate the 99%) effectively amount to a more egalitarian (relative) redistribution of wealth. And it is probably true that these societies would start to re-concentrate wealth again, although the political principles of the resulting societies might differ depending on whether the 1% or the 99% is the survivor.

And so if it’s morally repulsive to simply eliminate the 99% of moochers, and also morally repulsive to dissapear the 1% of economic übermen, then maybe a policy that redistributes without eliminating large segments of society is a preferred outcome.

The interesting question in my mind is whether a large economy needs the ultra-wealthy at all to survive. How would an island filled with John Galts + robats function, and what would the remainder of society do without them? In the short term, the loss of large quantities of capital would definitely be a shock, but one that can be rebuilt. One problem is that when societies get shaken up and the principles of governing are up for grabs, it is often the unscrupulous and megalomanical (and demogogues) that end up in power, so this all may be a choice between bad outcomes.

There is a large diversity of skills in the 99%, and the 1% is still a large number of people (30 million in the USA, or roughly the population of Italy). I suspect there is enough diversity of skills to run an economy, particularly if much of the hard labor is done by robots and knowledge on how to maintain them is available on Google or Wikipedia.

If labor really is replaceable by robots, and knowledge is easily obtained by study of stuff on the internet, then there is likely no demand for labor that would substantially better the position of the 99%, and certainly there would be enough diversity of skills in the remaining 1% to manage production and distribution. Perhaps the only thing that would be missing are the things that would make the 1% feel superior about themselves.

Related to this, I was struck by a quote from a friend who said: “People mistake ‘deciding what work is to be done’ from ‘actually doing the work’, and presume that the people who actually built something must therefore not be working hard, because they were simply hired to do a job.”

I have come to the conclusion that 100 years from now (perhaps 50 years from now), the planet is likely to have a much lower population (perhaps 5 billion or possibly even less) than it has today. I’m just not sure whether it will be war, disease (the rate of antibiotic-resistant illnesses is a frightening story to anyone who’s looked into it), revolution, the 1% culling the 99% to make it more governable, agro-ecological collapse. But the current patterns are clearly not sustainable, and population models that suggest the world will level off at about 10 billion are probably ignoring the possibilty of overshoot and collapse because it is politically unpalatable.

In the short term, we are moving towards a world where the upper 10% of society will isolate themselves onto islands that are climate controlled and protected and highly policed. This will stave off the effects of any environmental problems for as long as possible, and since they will also likely control the government, this means that environmental issues will only be addressed when they get severe enough to inconvenience the top end of society, and the bottom will bear as much of the costs as can be laid on them.

I suspect that eventually someone will come up with the idea that maybe the 90% of others aren’t really worth trying to protect or save in any way because they aren’t really needed as a labor force and their dissatisfaction poses an existential threat. From there, it’s a simple matter of dehumanizing them as the other or undeserving, or just scary/threatening and one can either actively stamp them out or simply stand by as some famine or plague wipes them out. It will be easy to dehumanize the rest because they will effectively live in separate worlds.

thats the beauty of if… with manual labor off the table, we would have the luxury to cutivate and consume BOTH! I mean, it wont be a perfect society. There will still be people who will judge their talent to be actor and when they turn out to wrong for it or it is a saturated industry, there will have to be a way for that individual to start over and find what they do best. That is part of what I mean by the luxury of developing each individual. With greater wealth, there is the opportunity to let young people try a few things until their untimate best utility is found.

In environmental circles, people have pushed the idea of economies of knowledge and creativity being substitute sources of GDP growth that have much lighter ecological footprints and generally requires human labor at least as creators and performers.

The challenge is that service industries tend to be far less responsive to productivity improvements than goods or natural-resource based industries, so for those who are pursuing profit maximization via technology, manufactures are better bets for physical investment.

The other issue is that there are necesities of life (food, water, shelter) and there are the luxuries of life (art, creative expression, etc.). The fact that we can survive without luxuries means that those who control the necessities have greater bargaining power than those who manage the luxuries. This is why artists struggle, but arms dealers don’t.

As a result, the idea that we could make a lighter ecological footprint with strong economic growth by turning half of the population into thespians for the other half seems unlikely. The most likely outcome here is that wages for thesbianism would be pushed into the floor and these would be the new 99% of moochers off of the ones who control the food and housing supply.

That would be neat indeed. It could be that massive productivity increases through automation makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.

Wow Bchad, I didn’t realize you were so dark!

Ok, I was thinking about the though experiment from the wrong perspective. I guess I would lean more toward the 1% + robots. (If you pick an extreme) I think it will always be a better scenario when there is the luxury of time and resources to get the most out of every individual. However, in a situation where need for products, service, and staple needs are stagnant… what that leads man to do is interesting. With all needs met, could wealth continue to be created as culture advances. In other words, what nation creates the greatest and most beautiful cities from the investment in the minds of it’s citizens. Who produces a show so fantastic that people from all over the world pay huge sums of money to see it. Who, though creative genetic splicing creates as new super fruit that every one wants. It won’t be about production of goods, but addition to human culture and quality of life.

…alll of this brought you by the dark bloody world revolution that leaves what is left of mankind huddling in climate controlled islands and building robots as a last resort to survive. thanks bchad!

My unusual career choice has make this exact scenario possible for me so I really appreciate the utility of it. I imagine in the future it would just be normal to launch" later in life… live at home longer.

HA! in the year 2525… ETSY will finally be a viable investment!

I try to be light in the moment, because I feel the future is indeed dark (at least for us here in the US). We are all dead in the long run, so if you don’t enjoy at least some of your existence now, you may never get to. You can try to plan for or mitigate a dark future, but don’t let it attack you before you’ve got there.

Finally, death smiles at us all; all a man can do is smile back (some might remember this quote from “Gladiator,” but it is in fact a quote from the original Marcus Aurelius in his book “Meditations”. Marcus Aurelius was indeed a fascinating character - though there is no evidence that he had any reservations about Commodus succeeding him as Emperor. Marcus Aurelius was just the last of “The Good Emperors” and the corruption and decline to the barrack emperor period appears to start with Commodus, so much of the popular imagination would prefer to believe that a wise Marcus Aurelius would not have wanted his son Commodus to take power.)

One should remember that things are genuinely improving materially for many people in the developing world, so perhaps on a pure Bentham-like utility version, it’s very likely the world is in fact getting better (as long as you ignore the shadow of ecological stress), and the middle class in the US (and possibly other developed economies) is just the loser that is being sacrificed.

In the long historical view, this may be a kind of rebalancing for the injustices of the colonial/imperialist era of centuries past, but it sure sucks for us, and there is still a danger to others when the most militarily powerful country goes through convulsions or civil war or the like. Canada says “when the US sneezes, Canada catches cold,” but what happens when the US goes through something considerably more dangerous than a sneeze.

I do think that it is a pity that the values of the enlightenment may be lost if we descend too far into oligarchy here in the West and economic power shifts to too great an extent to China, where those traditions and ideas have never been particularly welcome. Whether China can manage the transformation of it’s power structure to accommodate a less helpless middle and upper class is something that remains to be seen, but it is at least as plausible that it may be able to navigate it as it is possible that it may descend into it’s own social chaos.

This thread needs a tl;dr.

And, KMD, do you talk really fast? When I read your posts they remind me of the girl from Real Genius.

He’s talking about this girl.


simmer down there, ACE…

STL is acually not off on this one. That chick from Real Genius is totally awesome! awww, I’m flattered this time :slight_smile:

also, news flash… CvM is from India as of 12:17am

geeze, you guys really are just a bunch of dorks! (I like you even more heart)

nice pull

Can’t tell if this is a prediction from 1995 or if you fail to realize this is why most non-manufacturing jobs are being offshored.

Yes, non-manufacturing jobs are being outsourced. But, I don’t think we have reached full capacity.