Archive for August, 2011
Lately, in talks I’ve been asked if I was…or called an…Atheist. I am not. I do however, empathize with some of their causes… like ridding society of the ambiguities of spirituality’s spawns. So what does this mean? You either are or your aren’t. You are with us or them….right???
Integrationalism is not about atheism or spirituality specifically, although this new book elaborates heavily on the ethical dangers that the economics (decision making) of spirituality ultimately provides. This is not a classical argument, it is specific to the lack of incentives that spirituality provides for human-kind to “come together” or to “connect”, as the spiritual subscribers overwhelmingly told me was its objective.
One could be compelled to ask: “Which religion do you subscribe to” or “Do you believe in God” or “If you aren’t an atheist, what do you believe in?”. These are a few that I’ve heard, and I think the last question is the most relevant, so I’ll answer it. I don’t believe in anything. Similarly to theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, I recognize (has nothing to do with beliefs) that we live in a realm (world, universe, multiverse, call it what you want) of physical laws that are unbreakable. When apply that to the concept of a non-physical present or Spirit or God, one could easily question what the relevance of those would be. The answer is, nil.
This alone would leave me in the Atheist category. But wait there more…Understanding the full potential of human-kind’s ability to create technological extensions (as I like to say) of themselves brings a new potential for the God or Spirit concept into account. Nick Bostrom‘s Simulation Argument and the broader Simulation Hypothesis identify human-kind’s ability to create simulations as also having the potential to become as robust and what we recognize as being reality. We’ve potentially seen these early simulations in SecondLife and even the Sims, There are many thinkers (I recently heard Lincoln Cannon of the Mormon Church) making this argument.
Considering the aforementioned, I do not think (far different from beliefs) that the spiritual constraints that once applied to a more primitive understanding of human-kind’s interaction with one-another apply at all. If something yields a nil value, what is the advantage of exploring it? Atheists are formally considered to think that there is no God figure. Agnostics are formally considered to think that we cannot know of a God figure. In this short essay I’ve mentioned the term Human-Kind several times. I’d consider myself one of those. A kind-of-human, acknowledging that I (we) do existing in time & space, purely looking to implement
What is so natural for humans: Technologies that advance our being.
FOXCONN the Taiwanese company that so many in its media coverage from the West identify as a Chinese entity, announced that it has plans to replace 1,000,000 of its existing workers with robots in the coming 72 month (3 years). Now, as I understand it, per the products that they create (iPad, iPhone, various LCD screens, circuit boards, and more ), these robots will looks and act like most of that which we have seen in the manufacturing facilities of the West.
While the headlines look extraordinary, and identical to the title of this post, they actual technology is not. Having stated this, it is not in any way an attempt to downplay the severity of replacing some of the most low paid workers in some of the most populous regions of the planet.
As written in my last article for the World Future Society we are approaching a breaking point with product/wealth creation and human employment. The wide spread civil unrest in the western world, most recently in the UK, France, Greece, and the economic unrest in the US, is a result of a paradigm shift in how we as highly qualitative beings will distribute “fair value” to other beings of the same species in the future. This is (in my opinion) the most important issue of our time, because the ethical regard that we establish for one-another will dictate the potential that we will have to craft AI as well as preserve the majority (+50%) of the human resources on the planet today.
Our old model was to distribute the owned wealth of the world for an honest days work, regardless how ambiguous the word honest is, we transferred value through jobs, in 2011 it is apparent that we’ve exhausted our ability to do that. The difficult philosophical question that spawn so many others, is: Do we have the ability to use another qualitative methodology to distribute similar value?
I got this tweet today, as a part of a larger conversation that technological breakthroughs could help predict disruptive economic times. During the past 10 days or so, the US and global financial markets have taken a deep plung, as a result of, well, according to the CIOs (chief investment officers) and politicians, we don’t know. The new industry pins the almost unanimous economic decisions of sell sell sell, to the latest new is geo-political interactions and/or financial specific news.
We see headlines like “Downgrade Ignites a Global Selloff” at the Wall Street Journal, referring to the Standard & Poor’s downgraded credit rating of US treasuries, which by the way soared during the selloff of equities, because of their relative strength.
More importantly than what to buy, none of the headlines, nor the vague analysis captures the actual root-cause of this regular, or rather, irregular economic downturn occurring over the past decade. The general ideal that one should be able to buy low and sell high that once held true in the 20th century no longer exists. The root of the problem is in our use of technologies to error-proof redundant problems in the modern work world. Further, we know that mostly all errors exist by the hands of humans. Thus, error-proofing can be synonymous with human-proofing. We usually think of technologies that replace human activity as a device or software…”the robots”, and those do exist, but they are less of a threat than the methodological technologies.
We rarely think of a routine as a technology, but they are. Benchmarking is a technology. With all of the methodological expertise being poured into corporations over the past 30 years, we’ve finally got somewhere, efficient. How many times have you heard that word at the office? Since the late 1960s and the creation of Poka Yoke by Dr. Shigeo Shingo, and on to Lean-Manufacturing, and Six-Sigma, and most recently the 3rd version of IT Infrastructure Library (ITILv3), we are actively depleting the work force to ensure our qualitative (effectiveness) and quantitative (efficiency) superiority to the competition.
Its a difficult dialogue to have, because a valid argument is: what’s wrong with business being efficient? My answer would be: Nothing at all. The problem comes into play when human-kind has rendered its ability to distribute value, obsolete. In the past we’ve distributed value through a currency of some sort, and that currency (in primitive times and modern day) is backed by more than gold or bonds, it is also backed by faith in a philosophical system that a woman/man get paid for an “honest days work”, quite the primitive slogan. In a knowledge economy where people aren’t performing back-breaking work at the volumes that they used to, and 10 knowledge workers of the 1980’s can be performed by 1 Project Manager using 30 years of benchmarked data with soft/hardware help, it’s difficult to spread the wealth that we once did.
When the markets sell off equities into cash, they are saying that the economy is inflated and weak. There are no buyers for the products being produced, because there are no jobs. There are no jobs, because of all of the error-proofing that proceeded them; and finally, it is exceedingly difficult to quantify what people’s knowledge, experience, existence is worth in the old paradigm. While it feels better to point the finger at the CEOs and Politicians today, of which I’d likely get a finger or two, the problem is that we are trying to distribute the wealth that still exists using an antiquated model.
If one looks at the M1&M2 numbers at the US Federal Reserve, they’ll notice that all of the money we need to fix/build anything still exists. This is the same across the globe. When the news says that money supply is lower, what they actually mean is that money distribution is lower, because the money supply, as the link shows is rarely diminished. As an economy retracts, funds return to its originator. The wealthiest of our species cannot justify how to spread a trillion dollars around, at the moment, because there fewer and fewer tasks to assign a wage and a human resource. I’ve got a few solutions to recommend in my next book project, Integrationalism: Essays on ownership and distributing value in the 21st century.