The Massless Economy

Quite some ideas that have come to fruition in our world I first came across in comic books, or strips. As a european we had a rich supply of them from France, Belgium, Italy which where basically a sci fi psychedelic outlet for artists. But a very tranditional one was the Red Knight (Rode Ridder) who’s stories where set in medieval times, printed in one color, the cheapest way possible (you can google Rode Ridder, I don’t include images I didn’t make myself anymore because there’s a company in Denmark that mines image copyright infringements).

The red knight dealt with magic a lot, and in a discussion with a friend at the time (I was ~17), I said that eventually modern technology will be hidden and we will use magic spells to make things move, as was the case in the stories of the Red Knight (who sometimes also time travelled as that was a great way to make an interesting story).

There was anothe comic book that basically showed the Economistic Roboeconomy, in which the hero lands on a planet where robots have taken over and everything looks good in the city, but the people have left because they don’t have any credit to get anything from the robot army. This is totally the trajectory we are on right now. We need a full fledged Roboeconomy with a basic income, I am still hoping to find that book.

But I now see all kinds of ideas and devices being presented to help us in our daily lives. I think that will all go away. Simple reason is effort and cost. Why have a card with e-ink that shows you when your Starship ride to Sydney will leave? Why swipe it left or right? The AI that runs your life already knows. It reminded you, you behaved as if you where making yourself ready to travel, head to the spaceport. If you want to know the gate you ask it.

Navigation is an example how digital technology led to enormous savings. There are still street and road signs and they are maintained, but what priority will they get if everyone has Google Maps to tell them where to go (which can go quite wrong tbh, Google hire me!). Paper maps? Who has those anymore? I do like a compass on my watch btw, a very usefull feature if your movements don’t show your orientation on the digital map.

AI, voice and smartphones are the basic elements of a world that needs no signs or directions. That needs no controls except wireless access points. But with AI, cameras and its neural network ways to observe people (even according to some, using radio wave reflection/absorption), our world can run automatically, taking into account all actors, and giving those with the right role/intent/knowledge access to places, and others no access.

The problem I still see is the lack of need for people, especially in cities. Why would you maintain a life of a human that is stuck in a pod dreaming (consuming media) most of the time. It requires energy, the human does nothing usefull the AI can’t do. The whole environment of a city is anti-human, an obstacle to movement. So a fully economically optimized world with AI and cities will ditch humans eventually. This is why it is important to understand how to more or less survive AI as humanity which can be done by shifting to the Roboeconomy (introduction here).

As things stand with tiny ($10) modules now capable of AI, wireless build in, and AI via our phones understanding more about our lives and our world, we will probably get rid of a lot of devices and elements that are in our world to direct us and remind us and maybe even persuade us.

The economy wants us to have nothing in our heads, so then the AI will just direct us through our lives (and possibly even shield us from anything that may distract or inspire us), but we may also be taught by the AI so that we become more capable. The hardware is already here and massive AI servers are being planned. Access to AI compute will be the uplink to Starlink soon, with ever growing bandwith.

The question remains : What is in it for those developing the AI. Right now its a fight for profit, which brings into the world a lot of redundant and suboptimal, local solutions. But once, say, Amazon has managed to dominate both offering for sale and delivering and optimizing production of most of the things we need, what should AI be doing. Solving the problems we have in navigating our world eventually leads to solved problems. Our lives will be calm, all our needs provided for, all our anxieties met by soothing words of an ever present AI.

This world (which banks and the economy actually hate, so they try to cause war and destruction, financial crisis whenever we approach some kind of steady state) can be as quiet as living on a farm in nature, and we may forget all about the technology that is there to make it all happen. We may believe we are using magic when we say need to conjure up an electrical barge to take us over a lake. A device that maintains itself and stays out of sight most of the time.

Funny thing is that apart from a probable reduced risk to health and longer lifespan, if we are simply assisted in managing such farm, because its more pleasant for humans, then it doesn’t look much different from where we started.