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What happens if/when AI/robots become better and more cost-effective than humans for most jobs, leading to massive unemployment?

Personally, I am also still worried about getting paperclipped, but even if you don't think that an unfriendly AI will exterminate humanity, there are still massive economic problems that will be caused by AI.


One of two things happen.  Either capitalism dies or a majority of humanity dies.  Even the most glowy eyed positive view of capitalism involves a lot of people existing because they're exploited by those with capital.  Once AI/robots are more cost effective and you cut out the human part, capitalists simply have no reason to give the masses anything.  Violent conflict is inevitable at that point (People are worried about conflict even when a single industry falls to AI, like trucking).  The proletariat and bourgeois fight to the death and the winner decides what Earth is going to look like.



I'm going to take the less trendy viewpoint and say that capitalism continues to exist, but it changes its form in order to adapt to the realities of its shortcomings. Capitalists would like for things to continue as they are now forever. They are, however, smart enough to see that it cannot. Therefore, the 1% will do whatever is necessary in order to keep as much of their wealth as possible, without resorting to communism.

For example, I could see something like a universal basic income eventually being introduced in most countries, which would take care of everyone's basic needs, while capitalism continues through the buying and selling of digital assets. The new jobs would be mostly creative jobs, and there would continue to be competitions surrounding who can use AI to create the "best" art (and/or "experiences" and such), and the economy would involve the buying and selling of individuals' creations. What you can buy with your universal basic income would probably not be that great... and, unfortunately, I suspect that people will start getting used to smaller living spaces, especially as virtual reality becomes more advanced. So, the new "American Dream" might involve a story about someone who is born in a tiny Amazon Pod, works 4 hours a week at Amazon, spends their life in virtual reality, and finally sells enough digital goods to be able to own a farm or something in the real world - I don't know, that was a pretty random scenario. But, I think that whatever happens, capitalism isn't going to go anywhere anytime soon.


I'll be idealistic and optimistic by taking the belief that hardline capitalism in the market fundamentalist sense disappears in countries such as the U.S. And what's left is a mixed economy that's closer to the Adam Smith and David Ricardo view of financial and economic progress, with there being a fairly administered state under strict moral principles subject to the objective rule of law. This would happen in the U.K. as well as other major countries too.

This would mean advancing to a more evolved and intelligent view of human rights that involves the right to health care, the right to clean drinking water, the right to shelter, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and so on being fully realized.

The belief that flesh-and-blood people only have any worth based on their productive potential and what can be generated for society as a whole has to die off, being substituted for a system aligned with individual liberty.

Practically, though, I can't see this happening without a WWIII between "McWorld" (with populations more or less becoming enslaved by AI powered corporate masters) and "Mayberry" (with a lot of individuals clinging to the idea of community solidarity and togetherness).


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Suppose that AGI provides for all our material needs: good housing, good food, good healthcare, etc.  I worry that this might still be a dystopia.  For many, it is important to have a sense of purpose and to engage in meaningful work or activities where one can utilize one's skills and which provides a sense of accomplishment --- what if AGI deprives us of this?



I think that the traditional concept of the meaning of work would disappear as a result of AGI, freeing up people to be able to pursue more meaningful work. Jacque Fresco (with The Venus Project) talks about this in one of his videos from 2009 (I think it's from one of his movies): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUCmHH6grsI but it still seems to be relevant.

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