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Old 01-10-2012, 07:50 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 26,139
Think of it like this. A couple of hundred years ago, most people worked in agriculture. Since most wealth was generated by the production of crops or livestock, it was a direct function of who owned the most land.

A hundred or so years ago, the Industrial Revolution created a new form of wealth. The ability to make shit and lots of it. People got rich by making lots of stuff or inventing new ways for people to make stuff. It also had the effect of transferring the work force from working on farms to working in factories.

In the past 50 years, it's been about information. As technology and automation has made it easier to make stuff, the focus has shifted to figuring out what to make and how to make it more efficiently. Again, much of the work force has shifted from working in factories to working on the systems that run them.

It stands to reason that in the future, more and more decision making will be handled more cheaply and more efficiently by decision support systems. The company I work for makes software that analyzes data to tell salespeople who they should sell to. A lot of companies have systems that tell them when they should buy. How much longer until those systems are linked and you don't even need salespeople at all?

So when the drudgery of working on farms, factories and IT development centers becomes a thing of the past, what would be the next step? With the ability to produce so much so quickly, society would likely be highly socialized. After all, what does capitalist cutthrough efficiency matter when you can cheaply produce more than most people can ever use?

But what would pass for currency in a society where wealth was no longer based on land ownership, production capacity, or even intellectual property? The only thing left is the ability to amuse and entertain the masses of interchangable carbon blobs sitting in front of their 3D vid walls eating massive piles of cheap food.

You wouldn't teach kids to study math or science or even law or medicine. I would no more want my kids toiling in a data mine than my parents wanted me toiling in a coal mine. You would tell them to spend extra hours at the gym, tanning salon and laundrymat. Your "resume" would be the assorted clips posted on whatever future version of Youtube and Facebook exist.

The world of the future would look a lot like Idiocracy. The difference is that people wouldn't have bred themselves stupid. They would just be stupid because there would be no reason to not be.

Future generations would look at Snookie and The Situation the way we look at Henry Ford or Bill Gates.