Great minds think alike, but some are more able to make those thoughts count than others. When your struggle is to reconcile your mortal existence and weird drives and urges with the affordances of reality, you end up scanning the fringes of what you can understand. As there is only one reality, people that do so will end up expriencing and thus thinking similar things. That may be what happend or some things Elon Musk says have been inspired by what he read here.
Why is it important that Elon Musk has read this blog? It isn’t really, or mabey it can be considered an honour. He and the writer of this will probably never meet, but he has our full support, and sometimes we worry he does not fully understand topics yet, like AI (We wrote about ARGO) or what happens to people when they have everything they need (The Roboeconomy). We even explained why it is unlikely we live in a simulation. He should read our stuff on Extraeconomics, which deals with self sufficient zones outside the global economy, run on renewables and generating natural resouces.
Our society destroys more resources than it creates. That is not a survivable situation
His latest question is how to give meaning to people’s lives as they come to enjoy the full effect of technology, not the current diet which is still restricted by fossil industry and carboncredit compatibility. Meaning and purpose in life is a struggle for all of us. Usually we are by our need to survive forced into a behavioural pattern that uses up most of our attention yet has the right dose of novelty, which keeps us well fed and warm. In that case we are usually happy. But if automation reduces our existential struggle we may become aware of our idleness and become bored and possibly depressed.
The economy makes things unnecessarily scarce, for example a beach gets fenced off to make money off it, because of and resulting in an increase in economic pressure.
These things are all relative. When society didn’t move as fast as today and most people’s experiences where limited we did not all kill ourselves. We had simple jobs and simple lives, and survived. A future in which the need to work is reduced for all will probably simply lower our activity level and increase our attention to our surroundings. One thing is certain : We won’t be suffering. We will be free, live in clean comfortable houses, be able to do more than we ever could. All because of solar, wind, and technology.
A more to the bone analysis of humanities predicament is to say that we’ve won. Our species has won the struggle for survival. We can live as long as we like, even while ignoring AI, not leaving it to some interpretation of what existence is. A person will expres his/her needs and desires, will act out or indicate the changes needed to achieve those things. If it is about creating a family it will turn the drive to love in word and actions. A person during his/her life records the possible interactions amongst human beings, what works to achieve a goal and what doesn’t, how the lifeless universe has behaved as his/her survival happened. Every life story is like some pages of a vast instruction manual we never get when we are born.
A life can be economically exploited by defining it’s story, instructing its ambtions, something routinely done by advertisements
Today our minds (in the developed countries) don’t need to struggle to much anymore. our intelligence becomes less necessary, we need less information. Our brain’s cortex is hungry for the details of the real world, so it still drives us to absorb massive amounts of new impressions every day, which have to be novel to trigger us to learn, which brings the dopamine release that we crave. We crave freedom, and the more economic restriction that is put on us, the more we crave our intellectual freedom, or fantasy. But really for most it is about massaging the old brain into accepting a lack of freedom.
Human utility is an external property, a human being has evolved to survive, not to be useful to others. People that demand other humans are usefull in an environment where resources are scarce will end up wanting to kill those they deem useless (been there). The answer to this is to make resources abundant, and control population growth.
A true deconstruction of a person is that it is an organism with the ability to rubustly and autonously orient towards goal states, and this is what we do from the moment we are born to the moment we die. Even the ability to delude ourselves is part of the more general ability to achieve goals. They are always our own goals, as we can only strive for something we can imagine. It is logical that when we don’t succeed we get depressed, which is a mental state in which we absorb more of our reality, we see it as it is, so as we enrich our ability to imagine.
A human being is an autonomous robust goal orienting organism, it has evolved to survive long enough to procreate. Beyond this it has the inspiration to help other living organisms do likewise.
We are by our drive to procreate and our need for self preservation (thus having developed our specific sensibilities and tastes) forced to preoccupy a large part of our time reconciling ourselves or responding to our physical appearance. It is what we know best about most people we see. Behavior is second, we understand others behavior through imitation (our brain fires up like we perform the act we try to understand), and then we need to classify whatever we have observed as something we want repeat or prevent as our own. We may want to act it out as an example to inspire or warn the ones we love. Storytelling has the same function. These things occupy our lives because they are what our lives depend on, how we al survive, become and stay competent to do so.
The present dillema is this : Imagine there is a machine that makes everyone anyone needs, and it does so using fossil fuels. Is then everyone out of a job, poor and unable to buy the things the machine makes (and starve as a result)? Or will everything be free.
The economic system distributing fossil fuels says : Starve (as much as needed to keep going)!
For someone that rises above that process, like Hamlet contemplating his ‘mortal coil’, suddenly the sky is empty. There’s two urges that will move us, one is fear, the other agression, and there is love. To simplify, one can say we evade the known or unkown, we invade the known or unknown, or we complete the known or unknown. If we do that in our mundain lives these forces shape our behaviour. If our mind is in a more abstract realm they create, construct and break down concepts. The agressive side wil analyse atoms and contemplate quantum mechanics, and explore the concept of a gravitational matrix that imploding stars can send a ping through..Our fearfull mind will conjure up doom scenario’s, risks of all kinds. Maybe it will entangle itself by creating a structured fantasy of hell that is somehow comforting because it puts us in a relatively safe (imaginary) place.
Love creates things. Its that thing that lives in our environment we haven’t met yet, we have passively gathered aspects of it, and when enough of them work together to make it something we might interact with, it springs to life in our minds. We already imagine a living world, we need to because whatever we look for is in that world. As we wrote before about time and intelligence : It is prediction, it is modelling the future, as to escape the second law of thermodynamics (we localize entropy increase to our mitochondria, so all else can see reducing entropy). Life and love are in a fight with the physical reality. In our minds it is morality, the good we strive for, that is our talent to not only extricate ourselves from may damaging physical processes, but also shield other life from the same.
If we come out of the mental clamp of fossil credit economics, and if our talents are being freed up from tedious labour by robots, and if our biosphere is restored by the same robots, extraeconomic communities and renewables, then we will be back in paradise, The forrest where we can find the fruits we eat and we don’t have to suffer. It is not fair to expect an organism that has over evolution left many companions behind to become the one able to survive reality to be struggling forever. Once there was one winner amongst the animals (humans) it was a matter of time before this species pushes off all natural threats to survival.
The best feeling is that of love, and love means protection of life. There will be high demand for people driven by this feeling in the near future. We have to fight for life on Earth. So for the people who’s lives are freed up by the advent of the roboeconomy, they can restore and foster, increase and let thrive life on Earth, which has not happened since fossil fuels began their distructive rise.