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Old 01-09-2012, 07:09 PM
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SlackerInc is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Northern Minnesota
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Originally Posted by Hellestal View Post
Seems to me that machines capable of designing new machines, repairing them, testing the modifications, and then redesigning to create even more, are a recipe for a robo-commie paradise. Or human extinction. One or the other.
Completely agree with this. And since the "human extinction" side has gotten so much attention, I wanted to explore the "robo-commie paradise", but specifically how the transitional phase would look.

Originally Posted by aruvqan View Post
This is sort of covered in the 'Jupiter' series by Charles Sheffield [and a couple other cowriters]
That sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the tip, will look for it ASAP!

Originally Posted by heathen earthling View Post
Workers are conditioned to hate non-workers, but non-workers generally don't hate other non-workers. If everyone is a non-worker, what's the problem?
Agreed--and even if a minority of workers hated the non-workers, the non-workers are the majority and could just not associate with the workers. Besides, my guess would be that given human nature, most people would still want to feel they were doing something productive (or "productive"). So just as we see that most ultra-rich people today do not live a complete playboy/dilettante lifestyle (though some certainly do), but serve on foundation boards, edit literary magazines, or at least intensely pursue some kind of hobby, that would likely still be the case.

Originally Posted by The Other Waldo Pepper View Post
"Release the robot hounds."
LOL, touche.

Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
I don't think the OP is talking about sentient artificial people like Cylons or Blade Runner replicants. He is talking about highly advanced industrial automation. IOW, why would you design an advanced automobile factory robot to want to "become human" like in the Sci Fi movies? You'd design it to want to stamp car bumpers all day.
Exactly right. Although if we give in to the temptation to have robots/computers take over jobs that do require more subtle forms of judgment (doctor, lawyer, teacher, cop) there is definitely the risk of sentience and all that implies. But that avenue has been explored so much, I'm more interested in the scenario you describe, which has not.

So it looks like a lot of people responding are like me in having an easier time imagining the end result, but not a lot of comments about the transition. What does the economy look like a decade or two before we get to this state where most everything is automated? High unemployment or underemployment seems a given (or reduced hours, or reduced importance for each employee to do their share to keep society functioning). But would that lead to turmoil in the medium term, or would the massive increases in GDP make it fairly easy to use taxation to provide a comfortable safety net? (I should add that my scenario assumes the problem of energy is also solved, by controlled fusion or somesuch mechanism; the whole thing becomes much more problematic if that's not the case.)