Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The 4th Industrial Revolution vs Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Work...

I've been pondering the burgeoning fourth industrial revolution again recently...
It is very exciting to consider the possibilities.

One thought which crossed my mind is that of economics and politics.

First consider some of the possibilitie.

Consider FarmBot:

This thing is very nearly a fully automated garden. It is also opensource, and much of it can be manufactured using additive printing and relatively cheap and open source parts. Give it the ability to save/recover seeds and it becomes almost entirely autonomous. In theory any household could grow their own produce.

Consider self driving vehicles:
Uber is planning to launch a fleet of self driving taxis,  several companies are working on self driving vehicles for consumers, self-driving semi-trucks for freight transportation.

Consider Surgery Bots:

And they are learning to perform operations autonomously.

And that's not all.

Amazon is working on drones to autonomously deliver your stuff to your door.
They are also working on robots to handle the warehouse work of picking, packing, and shipping product.
There are printers which can construct any 3D part or object in plastic, or metal.
There are projects to build printers which can print fabric, and not just fabric as sheets of fabric, but fabric as clothes.
Food printers.
Even printers to create human organs.

So, if food production is automated, transportation is automated, manufacturing is automated, medicine is automated. what happens to humans? Notice that none of the above technology requires approaching anywhere near the threshold of the singularity (a self aware machine, which might decide humans are a pest which needs to be erradicated).

What does human work look like in this new world? And if much/most of these machines can be replicated by machines - If I can print my own printers using my friends' printers and a few hundred dollars of metal and resin... Well, that was the primary stated goal of communism - the means of production in every individual's hands.

If anyone can print their own food, their own clothing, their own shelter, so long as they have access to the base materials, and if the base materials are all autonomously extracted/manufactured/recycled, transported... Apart from clinging desperately to archaic intellectual property laws, will any large corporate entity be able to remain relevant? Will the idea of a company as we currently know it become inconsequential? Will the debate over capitalism vs. socialism vs communism still be relevant in an economic sense? And if individuals or small collectives are no longer dependent upon substantial governmental bodies to construct, maintain, protect or interfere in daily operations, will Those terms be politically relevant as well? Will national borders as we now know them matter?

If you no longer work to subsist. What will you do?

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