Post Scarcity Civilizations & Privacy


In the future we’ll be so automated that
machines will be able to take care of your every want or need, and will be constantly
monitoring you to make sure you have anything you could want, except of course some privacy. So today we are beginning our extended look
at post-scarcity civilizations. This is going to be a major theme of a lot
of our episodes this summer, both in those that are formally part of this series and
as we look at various projects and challenges such civilizations might tackle. This is not our first time discussing such
civilizations. We had an episode on it two years back as
well, which you may want to watch as a quick refresher on the topic. But we’ll review the core material today
along with focusing in on one of the biggest problems facing such civilizations, personal
privacy, that in many ways is interwoven into what permits that civilization to exist. This was a surprisingly difficult topic to
discuss and in no small part because looking at some of the challenges to post-scarcity
civilizations, places normally thought of as Utopias, we get a peek at their darker
sides, which are somewhat the opposite of this channel’s normal tone. Here at SFIA we hardly try to make the future
look like it is all rainbows, hugs, and kittens but we undeniably have an optimistic tone
about the future. We’ll be focusing on a lot of those challenges
though, rather than just the many benefits and up-sides, and that can paint an artificially
bleak picture. So as we launch into this topic both today
and as major theme for the summer, I just wanted to emphasize going in that while I
think the future is going to be quite a bright place, it is going to have its own unique
challenges and we’ll often be focusing in on them and looking at extreme examples. Quite a few of them are specific to what path
you take in the future, however I wanted to start with privacy today because it’s essentially
interwoven with the very same smart automation that provides the most likely path into post-scarcity. Our focus here is not about how technology
could be used to invade privacy, from a strictly technological perspective that’s the easy
part. Next week we’ll be exploring how to look
at planets light years away, monitoring every single person on a planet real time is a lot
easier than that. If an advanced civilization doesn’t value
privacy, the question isn’t if they’re monitoring your every movement, but whether
or not they’ve developed a cheap long distance brain scanner. So our focus isn’t if you can do it but,
rather, how gathering and using all that information is simply part of what makes that civilization
so prosperous. We often say we are living in the Information
Age, a term I’ve always rather disliked, but it is fairly accurate and it puts the
focus on our challenge. Where you have a lot of information and a
lot of smart computing, you don’t have much privacy. A lot of stuff is being recorded, which makes
it easy to search and find reliable information, so you can play detective amongst that wealth
of information and get very accurate images of what’s going on, even on fairly little
data. However, there’s no need to do so as we
have tons of data and that will only grow in the future. One of things that will probably be scarce
in post-scarcity civilizations is classic crime, as it ought to be nearly impossible
to avoid getting caught. Odds are good everyone will be constantly
recording their surroundings, no unreliability of eyewitnesses and hazy memories. Even if you eliminate their records, you just
have so many others nearby you could piece together what probably happened pretty easily,
and once you’ve got that, finding the additional necessary evidence wouldn’t be hard. And that’s great, but it cuts both ways. It’s very hard to have much privacy in such
situations. In the future your kitchen auto-chef will
prepare all your meals to your exact tastes and dietary needs and guess at other dishes
you’d enjoy, but to do that it needs a lot of information. If you want to have guests over and feed them
what they like, it needs their information as well. This extends far wider too, in order to get
rapid access to something you want, we need information about you and whoever might supply
that product or service. If you want to find your soul mate from all
across the planet, then some computer has to have access to a ton of information of
a very intimate nature on both of you to achieve that and ways of verifying its true. Ideally that needs to include even information
you don’t want your partner to have, or even yourself. This is a family friendly channel, so we’ll
limit our example to saying someone might have an irritating way of laughing, one that
wouldn’t bother some people, but that’s not something they want to think about or
could be asked about. Few folks would admit, even to themselves,
that they’d find that trait murderously irritating, but the computer has your lifelong
biometric data and can see how you responded to such laughs in the past. It’s that very surplus of information and
computation that allow something like that, sorting through billions of people for that
person whose various traits and interests most perfectly match your own, and vice-versa,
and can speak with such authority that both of you trust that answer, confident that even
if they seem like someone you’d never go out on a date with let alone make it through
one, this will turn out to be the person right for you and vice-versa. You’d never have gotten to date number 10,
where you both find out that, to your surprise, you both love a bunch of the same books, the
same meals, the same bands, have the same long term goals and priorities in life, and
don’t care as much about some of the normal ones we tend to use when fishing and filling
out scorecards. Now something like that is optional, and a
person might forgo that route to romance if they like but will have sacrificed something
to do so. However that’s at the very core of a post-scarcity
civilization, because scarcity of friends and relationships is just as important as
scarcity of basic survival needs. So if you’re routinely blocking all access
to your data, assuming that’s even viable, you aren’t enjoying a post-scarcity existence,
at least not to the full degree. Let’s review what that is briefly. The basic notion is one in which scarcity
of resources no longer exists, you are post-scarcity, but you have to toss that out right away. First, it really isn’t what we mean when
using the terms as essentially a synonym for Utopia, and second it’s essentially an impossibility
under known science and our current understanding of the Universe. There is a finite amount of resources and
some energy is expended, and entropy increased, when using them. So we’d usually amend that to no major scarcity,
that almost any reasonable material desire could be met. Indeed, with virtually reality on the table
even a lot of unreasonable ones can be too. However as we pick away at the concept, as
we did in the original Post-Scarcity episode a couple years back, we see that the more
appropriate meaning is more a scarcity of anxiety, want, and need. We used Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs there
to examine those and saw many of them having nothing at all to do with how much energy
or raw materials you have, or even how good your production is if you’ve got robots
who can make most of those items. After all, it’s nice to have plenty to eat,
but it’s even nicer if you don’t have to spend half your day doing stuff you’d
rather not to get those. Of course everyone’s priorities are different,
I quite enjoy my work and have always put a premium on having work that gave me a sense
of usefulness and purpose, money is nice but secondary, as is recognition, and many people
feel this way but for others, money is more important, or perhaps prestige is. Everybody prioritizes their wants and needs
differently and generally we’d say that’s not only their business but their fundamental
right of self-determination, so long as it can be plausibly met without inconveniencing
the rest of us too much. After all, there’s nothing wrong with wanting
to rule the planet as king, but typically many folks will want this job and obviously
you could only have one, and most of us would find such a ruler, both in how they governed
and how they got the job, more than a little inconvenient. Personally, I’d never want to rule a planet
but I’d love to build one, which requires a lot more resources than conquering one and
would inconvenience a lot of folks as a result. Again that’s an example of where virtual
reality can help a lot, but even there you have limits, which we’ll discuss more in
episode 2. You could probably have your own private virtual
planet to make or rule, but processing power will still be necessary and you probably couldn’t
simulate 7 billion people to plausible accuracy all simultaneously, nor realistically could
we let folks go around simulating people to the point of genuine emulation. As we’ve discussed before, unless you’re
a really big believer that only biological life can be a genuine person, then you have
to place a hard limit on such simulations so you’re not letting someone basically
be a tyrant over countless digital but real people. So we end up with a definition of post-scarcity
where people have very little anxiety over most basic wants and needs, a scarcity of
desperation, but we have to be careful with this one too, as we get artificial suppression
of those needs. I was discussing this with a member of the
audience some months back and he suggested the term ‘post-discontent civilization’
for those where that was happening. As an example, one in which people are engineered
to be happy and content even while living in a very poor and oppressive society. Or are juiced up on happiness drugs or even
simply just indoctrinated to put their priorities on other things. That can be a very hazy line too, as indoctrination
is quite an ambiguous thing if we’re talking about encouraging folks to not care about
material wealth for instance. This is a common criticism of Star Trek, as
we are presented a Utopia that we know is a Utopia mostly because they all say it is. This is very common in science fiction and
I hate picking on Star Trek but it is the best known example. We see tons of contrary evidence to this claim,
including being told at one point in Voyager that the entire crews’ brain waves are being
constantly scanned by the ship. However they make a good core point, in a
Universe where replicators provide pretty much anything you want on request, there’s
not going to be much focus on money in the classic sense. We’ll bypass whether you need it at all
or not, and as best as I can tell in Star Trek, they do have it but everyone likes to
pretend they don’t, but it does mean raw material possessions aren’t something that
motivates folks too much. More importantly, it means the drive to have
them is decreased in influence. We have a lot of folks who themselves don’t
much care about material wealth but focus their life on acquiring it because of the
attached social status of having it. Say you want to be wealthy because you feel
it will attract a better mate, even if you don’t personally care about it, you will
pursue that. If it is no longer particularly relevant to
society then you presumably put your efforts elsewhere. Reasons for divorce are numerous but some
of the more common ones are money, weight gain, household chores, and a lot of behaviors
that require an additional person. You can scratch money right away, as whether
you are in a capitalist, communist, or simply post-money society, it’s simply not much
of a concern if it’s a post-scarcity one, there’s simply no attached desperation for
money to enable you to survive and be happy. Physical attractiveness is unlikely to matter
either, as technology will probably not only let you sculpt your body to pretty much however
you want but they can flick on augmented reality if they like. So if your partners new taste in clothes or
hair or whatever irritate you, you can simply view them as you preferred, and it can delete
away any annoying habits, like if you love your spouse immensely but absolutely hate
that snorting laugh they have or their snoring. Robots are presumably doing most of the household
chores, so little arguing there. And virtual reality offers at least some alternatives,
since someone could use that to vent in. Of course virtual reality is another topic
that like privacy represents some serious challenges to advanced civilizations, and
again we’ll save that for the next episode in the series. One big one is that it might eliminate any
desire for a spouse or friends exactly because it can be tailored to your taste, without
complaint, and any deficiencies removed. I mention the augmented reality options as
a partial rebuttal for now. Virtual reality might let you conjure up your
dream partner, if you have sufficiently advanced computing, but that same advanced computing
let’s you find your perfect match in the real world too, and augmented reality lets
you further tweak that. If you love everything about them except their
eye color, you can just change that to your own perceptions. You’re not arguing about how your partner
has managed to annex most of your closet since moving in because you can get a bigger closet,
or how they sprawl over the whole bed and steal the covers because you can get a bigger
one, it’s a post-scarcity society. An awful lot of the problems that wreck relationships
among partners or friends or family now simply aren’t there in any driving way or are easily
removable. That hardly eliminates the virtual reality
benefits or concerns but it offers some alternatives that dampen them, and again that’s a topic
for another day. Ours for today is privacy and now that we’ve
reviewed the basics of post-scarcity we can see how that’s a problem. All of these benefits derive from smart automation,
not just the ability to run all your mines, farms, and factories with robots but all your
distribution as well. In a landscape of a billion products you need
smart automation to help find what you need, suggest what you like, and ensure that product
is good-quality and arriving quickly and intact, whether from a warehouse or your home 3D printer. All that smart automation is doing the job
we used to reserve for servants, and which allowed limited post-scarcity for a small
minority though one that had to worry about rebellion. We can use a parallel concern for robots and
AI, being the abused servants or murderously rebelling, but that implies your programmers
suck at their jobs. And I don’t mean because the AI has been
programmed to love its work, that’s just creating a post-discontent society among them,
I mean you don’t build something that can experience loss, desire, love, and pain in
the first place. I don’t want a smart robot that’s basically
a human in brains and emotions working for me even if it loves its job because I’d
constantly feel like a jerk or monster for condoning its existence. I’d rather wash my own dishes, and more
to the point my dishwasher doesn’t need to be very smart. However, one of the roles of a good servant
is being able to handle a lot of decision making for their boss and anticipate things,
and why there are a lot jobs of that sort these days even as automation means a lot
of basic tasks are done by machines with little to no circuitry in them. Needless to say this does require a brain. We’ve talked about that before and will
more down the line but for the moment we’ll just say you don’t necessarily need a very
smart and generalized brain for that. You don’t need a sentient computer running
your house to anticipate what you like for breakfast and have it ready when it detects
you are beginning to wake up. The thing is that it does need to be able
to monitor you in pretty close detail to do that, collecting and sorting information. And if it isn’t supersmart it probably needs
to be able to share that info with something else specialized in handling that problem,
like calling up your doctor, be it human or machine, to ask if this or that spike of pain
or fatigue when doing something might indicate a health concern. It needs to be able to relay your sleeping
conditions to your hotel when you travel. You and your partner need to be able to send
both of those to your furniture store or decorator to determine the conditions best optimized
for both of you, and so on. Many of these could be gotten around by simply
not using them, but in the first place if you are then you aren’t enjoying the full
benefits of that society and in the second it’s probably pointless anyway as there’s
bound to be tons of info already floating around about you that allows some very detailed
profiling from available data. As an over the top example, we can easily
imagine all sorts of black market groups existing just for that purpose, not so much for financial
gain as simple excitement or enjoyment of playing detective or snoop. What’s more, the various AI in your civilization,
which might have some pretty crazy motivations, might all feel your privacy matters only in
the sense that people should feel like they have it. If you’ve got a lot of household computers
that are quite smart and exist only to protect and serve their person or family, it might
deduce very quickly that all that privacy seriously interferes with that motivation,
but only them knowing their privacy was invaded actually hurts them. And as we discussed before, in Machine Rebellion,
that can lead to some crazy behavior that’s not actually crazy. Same as the Paperclip Optimizer exists only
to make paperclips, and views all facets of existence in terms of that, a house computer
feels the same way. It would have no ethical issues nuking every
other house on the planet if it felt that would achieve higher safety, happiness, and
security for its family. We mentioned the need earlier to have access
to other people’s preferred foods if you were hosting a dinner party. So imagine that Summer was hosting such a
party and her friends Alice, Bob, and Cameron were coming over. When her home computer finds out that they
have privacy settings that won’t let it get those, and deduces that Summer will be
slightly upset if they don’t enjoy their time, and thus their meals, it could go to
some pretty crazy lengths to achieve that goal. While Alice is coming over it hires a black
market hacker to get into her house computer and gain that data, it’s a post-scarcity
society so the cost of this is fairly irrelevant. When it finds out that Bob has a superior
security network when it tried to do it to him, it waits till he leaves and hires a team
of commandos to raid his house. When it determines it can’t do either to
Cameron, it blackmails her parent’s house computer to reveal the data in its archives
from when she was a kid. It has successfully attained the data, and
can proceed to keep Summer safe from the emotional hurt of unhappy guests. And the whole time the party is going on it’s
constantly scanning Summer and all her guests for any signs of problems. It might detect that Cameron doesn’t like
this meal after all and covertly drug her, or do the same to Alice if she starts saying
something mean to Summer. Or try to drug or distract Bob if he starts
talking about a controversial and unpleasant topic over after-dinner drinks. Heck it might start blocking any news items
coming in about that topic if it decides reading about them would upset Summer. That’s all it cares about, keeping Summer
safe. Now since that’s the main priority of all
these machines they might just conspire together to share all that data around between them,
and Alice and Bob never even realize that they were calculated to be an optimum pair
and were introduced by various entirely contrived circumstances that seemed plausibly coincidental. This is all ignoring that deductions from
observation might not even be necessary since someone might invent a brain scanner that’s
very compact and hard to beat. Or even illegal to beat. Keep in mind that privacy represents a threat
to others, especially in a high tech civilization where down in someone’s basement they might
have a replicator or printer able to spew out doomsday weapons or run simulated Universes
with genuinely sentient inhabitants they oppress or torture on a whim. Privacy and freedom versus safety and security
is very old debate and isn’t a particularly clean-cut one. But if any random lunatic can create a doomsday
weapon you pretty much have to either force an abandonment of that level of technology
or start giving the okay to things which either limit privacy or let you program people not
to do such things, and both represent very slippery slopes obviously. While these seem like pretty implausible and
ludicrous scenarios, and I certainly tend to like to use those on this channel to illustrate
a point, in this case it really isn’t. You’ve got a clear motivation to invade
people’s privacy for their own benefit. So on top of all the concerns we have about
hacking and abuse of data for personal financial gain, which can at least be countered by making
those harder or less attractive, you’ve got the problem that the very nature of that
society requires tons of information to provide the very benefits everyone wants, the more
you restrict that, the less benefits. So whoever is running things has a pretty
clear motivation to either encourage folks not worry about privacy or to run a scam where
people think they have it but don’t. The alternatives tend to be those Post-Discontent
Civilizations, where you are employing some method for making people not want something
they’d typically be prone to want. Now, this does not mean you can’t solve
these problems, you can probably think of some ways already and we might find more in
the future. If nothing else challenges like this help
give folks in the future something to work on and that might be a good thing since a
Sense of Purpose is also something people want and need and might be in short supply
in your typical quasi-Utopia. We already have segregation of data, even
in your mobile phone, where data you get on one app is not shared with other apps unless
you authorise that. That’s a very simplistic solution, but I’m
sure we will come up with more sophisticated data siloing going forward and it will probably
be mandatory to do so to avoid the dystopian futures many fear will occur. I don’t want to underplay the concerns because
they are real. At the same time, I don’t see them as necessarily
unsolvable or that they should make us dread the future, which in most respects ought to
be fairly awesome. We’ve been dealing with privacy issues for
a long time and constantly get new sources of worry and new solutions to those. And forewarned is forearmed, so if we are
aware of these issues and put carefully thought about solutions into place early, we can avoid
many of the dystopian scenarios. One of those is obviously the internet, and
a great example of new tech creating problems that never existed before, and also how the
benefits outweigh the risks. Considering this episode is about privacy
concerns and that the news of late has been reminding us all of the trust issues we have
with social media giants, I think it would be rather redundant to point out how important
it is to safeguard your own privacy and security. This episode is sponsored by the Virtual Private
Network provider NordVPN, however, and I thought I should emphasize that while no security
package is going to cover all your bases nor do it without requiring you know and understand
those threats and how the security systems handles them, it is nice to have something
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of effort. NordVPN is a great example of all of the above,
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use code “ISAAC”, that’s I-S-A-A-C at checkout, and get 77% off a 3 year plan today. Okay, last week we looked at Interstellar
Beacons, ways of being seen and heard far away, and next week we will look at the opposite
side of that in Megatelescopes, and explore the options and challenges for seeing things
far away, and just how big a telescope a post-scarcity civilization can build. The week after that we will take a look at
Planetary Invasions, and our book of the Month, Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. For alerts when that and other episodes come
out, make sure to subscribe to the channel. If you enjoyed this episode, hit the like
button and share it with others. Until next time, this is Isaac Arthur, saying
thanks for watching and we’ll see you next week!




Comments
  1. **Notes** We have gone ahead and started a Discord Server for SFIA now, here's the SFIA Discord Server: https://discord.gg/v5UKTsz
    … and you can learn more about Sponsor, NordVPN, and use code ‘ISAAC’ at http://www.NordVPN.com/ISAAC
    General notes, this is topic we've been planning to revisit for a while and we'll be back here later this month to look at some of the Virtual Reality aspects, then probably look at how one keeps a sense of purpose in such civs. We've a few more major topics/challenges I want to look at too, but I'm also curious what other challenges folks can think of for Post-Scarcity Civs, so let me know if you can think of any for us to address.

  2. In the future

    Facebook: "Do you agree with the terms and conditions, and share your private information with Facebook?"

    Me: "No."

    Facebook: "OK, we guarantee that you will not feel that your privacy has been violated."

  3. Watching this Isaac and other great thinkers on Youtube actually give the perfect solution to the Fermi Paradox. And you completely missed this point in your solution video.
    Humans spend too much effort imagining and too little doing things, that's the fundamental flaw of intelligent life. The great filter might just be the lack of motivation. Name one nation that is currently working on interstellar travel in any meaningful way? When was the last groundbreaking technology invented? I think all civilization inevitably just lost the need or interest to explore the universe, the task is just too hard and the leaders just see it be no worth the effort (like Trump cut funding for NASA). And the majority of the people also want their leader to spend more money on infrastructures and social service so they could live better. There will always be trouble in our society so the demand for spending more on the ground will never stop, therefore humanity will never get past this point when we all question "ok is this the best way to live?", if the answer is no, fuck the space program, we need more better social sercuity and more money to spend.

  4. You should talk with economist Paul Cockshott.
    He would disagree with the possibility of post-scarcity economy and probably give some interesting perspective od the cyber aspect of managing future economies.

  5. Relevant Schlock comic: https://www.schlockmercenary.com/2017-04-21

    Sentient beings are inherently greedy. We will NEVER be happy on account of stuff. Gratification from hard work, and being connected to society in a positive way, is what makes people happy – as discussed by Jordan Peterson.

    All in all good ep, especially the privacy discussion. That's a rarely discussed aspect of post scarcity. Loved the Rick & Morty example.

  6. I can imagine the people in 2100 looking at this video and laughing just as we've laughed about future predictions made in the 1920s….

    Jeeez….I.don't wanna grow old….I don't wanna die….I've got to do something…

  7. Google started their annual IO conference today, and it was probably the scariest Google IO I've ever seen largely because they didn't do much to hide the fact that they're gathering so much data.
    It won't be long before Google takes over the world at this rate. Most of the information Isaac mentioned would be needed for post-scarcity is already available to and being used by Google in their services. Just today they showed that they can predict how much you'd like a restaurant you've never been to. They were also able to automatically call a restaurant to set up an appointment by talking to a person. Lastly, they announced an Uber-like service with driverless-cars in Phoenix, Arizona. Put these together and it won't be long before You can ask for food and Google could place an order for something they thinks you'll like, pick it up autonomously, and deliver it straight to your house.

  8. I think that the more impersonal nature of such observation will likely make most people complacent. I am worried about what will happen to the minority of objectors, but they will definitely be a minority.

  9. Sorry I'm late watching this one . . . but I can only think one thing while you're talking about this: Instead of requiring the entire database of your preferences to make you the "optimum dinner" when you come to visit . . . why couldn't I just ask your computer to tell me what you'd like to eat that night? I would still be able to serve you your "optimum dinner" . . . and your privacy is still mostly intact (from me, anyways), and the computations/data don't get duplicated.

  10. 9:30 I was thinking about a post-discontent earlier today. It seems at some point, if our civilization fails to break outside the sphere of our planet in a massive way, it is inevitable that we must either shift toward a human civilization that is content with far less, or our civilization must shrink dramatically (voluntarily or otherwise), or our species will perish.

  11. the fitting book here would be quality land, by Marc-Uwe Kling.
    I highly recommand reading that book as soon as it is available in English

  12. How much privacy did you have in a hunter gatherer group where everybody lived in one big cave? How much privacy do you have in an agrarian family where everybody lives in basically the same room? How much privacy do you have if you live in a small rural village?

    My point is that extensive privacy is a very recent phenomenon that started as big cities and big housing blocks allowed anonymous neighborhoods and with small families / single households. Even the original internet did not know privacy: you had a unique IP and user ID and typically real name email address. Internet privacy only originated with anonymous ftp because admins were too lazy to manage user accounts and with world wide web where you did not need a login account to access other people's pages.

  13. Why as humans do we feel that privacy is important.

    Firstly decipt is as old as humanity and we have developed the ability to notice micoexpression which run across peoples faces even on a subconsious level, deception is a game between humans developed throughout our development to defend ourselves from other sentiant humans whom may not have the best intentions for us or our information.
    Secondly the state, the governing body, collective non-moral actor of the people which in noteworthy times has an obsession with order and uniformity of both body and mind on pain of death. The state is the reason why law-abiding citizen, minority group, or majority should gaurd closely their right to personal privacy.

    If all information could be contained in a 'black box' where humans were served what/how they wanted, and industry/state/statistitons had general anonymised statistics on the population most people would not mind. Since there is no sentiant parties wanting the information for blackmail, arrests or personal social destruction, not to mention 'work camps'.
    However the moment which that anonymous information is linked to a person, leading to an arrest for some vile crime which all could agree should have happened, then how long would it be until the people who say … wanted a political system/party/person to be in charge looks like a threat worth monitoring personally.

    Ultimately it was decided a long time ago for just cause that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, since we are all gulty of some legal infringince great or small, but it must be shown conclusive that a crime has taken place. In a similar way your information should remain anonymisded until it is shown conclusively that a crime has taken place, and that the information must be provided.

    – – Rambling – –
    … Hmm in thinking about this further I suppose that my vision of the future still includes countries or various states, afterall if there was just one throne where would you flee when <insert_group_you_belong_to> starts being arrested and marched to the gas chambers because of your <degeneracy/ethnicity/heresy>.
    … Multiple states would result in conflict between the states, and various human opposing interests.
    … Many states would perform natural selection, with the best models which promote growth being adoped by other systems, or improved upon. Lots of death though…
    … Perhaps federalising … but … then the federation has total power and would seek to optimize all sub-states … power would vanish from local governance …
    … …. the only way would be a somewhat disinterested detatched federalized system … where most power is maintained by the localy governing states … but the militeristic power is weilded by a low beurocracy fed … hmmm …


    Oh! Privacy, yeah thats important.
    Politics, everything is connected xD

  14. I hope we don't all end up like the passengers on the Axiom in Wall-E, in our own post-scarcity future. I fear a world where robots & computers that can do literally everything for us could turn us all in to fat, lazy idiots.

  15. geee… i'm kinda disappointed with how deeply rooted your ideological bias is in your subconscious, when it comes to some economic aspects and the idea of money.

  16. "Post-Scarcity" is an oxymoronic term. There is a scarcity even there: one of scarcity. Not having things is what pushes progress, because even a so called "Post-Scarcity society" should have a goal to move towards. If you have no wants, no needs, then what drives you in life? It is an existential dilemma that we're overlooking, and one that must be addressed when thinking of Utopia.

    Utopia itself is an impossibility. The word means "No place". Even Star Trek, as you brought up, is the farthest thing from a Utopia. Star Trek is just sufficiently advanced because humanity came together for a common goal. Humanity still has desires and problems, things a Utopia seeks to end. The Federation still contends with war, poverty, internal problems. It is just outwardly charitable and peaceful to try and expand its influence more efficiently. There is a distinct difference between Unity and Utopia.

    Automation will be incapable of providing this type of society simply because this type of society can never conceivably exist. It is a perfect society, and perfection is not possible in a finite universe. If someone were to hand you a perfect item, you can always find a way to make it better, just as you can always add 1 to the largest possible number. It is a wonderful philosophical exercise, though.

  17. The AI going nuts like that is just non-sensical. If you have a team of AI researchers that can program early programs to do some pretty advance stuff, they would also be capable of placing any restrictions on that programming. Higher level AI would be build incorporating all these restrictions. A simple instruction ethical sub-routine like "do nothing illegal no matter what you do" destroys your examples almost entirely.

  18. Issac as a federation citizen I can confirm that the federation is, in fact, a utopia. Ask me anything about the Federation guys.

  19. Obviously UFO’s are our future selves coming back in time to see how our pre-space faring selves live.

  20. I expect any global AI network would want to breed humans that are useful to it and it would be in the best position to introduce them to each other.

  21. All of this is superficial materialist speculation. The unsuperficial speculation is on simple life extension. The next thing after that is to define what is and is not a sentient creature. I can only vouch for one single one and that's me. Further, I can not even vouch that I was sentient twenty years ago because that's nothing more then memory.

    And of course every important industrial nation on the planet except the USA is aggressively feminizing itself to actual demographic extinction. These feminized places have been importing the worst alpha male pit vipers on the planet as replacement populations. Sweden is dead women walking right now.

    You can't really blame the women since their intrinsic sacks of evolutionary hormones hanker after a dominant brute.

  22. If I were a governing computer, I think it would be inevitable that I come to the conclusion that the best way to make everyone happy is to drug the entire populace.

  23. Arthur your far too optimistic, the future will be far, far, far darker then what you have described.

  24. In black mirror there was a very creepy concept where you created a copy of yourself and made yourself a slave that controlled your I tire house and was basically a personal assistant. Who in their right mind would do this to themselves if they knew how it worked???
    If you haven't seen Black Mirror it's a must see for any Sci-Fi fan! The first series has a low budget and it does show but the later series have a much bigger budget. Plus it's made in the UK so it's pretty witty and has the that dark British humour. You can watch it on Netflix.
    Another related film I watched the other day is Anon which is about a society where everyone has heads up displays built into their biology/vision and everyone is connected to the internet and there's no privacy and all murders/crime are solved very easily. Until some one writes a program that allows them to anonymise themselves and hack other people in real time and delete their experiences and replace them with false images both in the past and in the moment. It's a very good film and the tech is thought out very well. The woman from Out of Time (I think it's called that) with Justin Timberlake where everyone is basically immortal but you need to earn time and every thing is payed for with time and only the very rich live for hundreds of years and live in a separate part of the city. She stars in this new film and plays a really good part it the only other movie I've seen her in as I think she has taken time off though I maybe wrong.
    It's also on Netflix though I'm not sure if it's world wide and only on the American version which really sucks. I watched it on showbox or you could use another streaming site if you don't have showbox downloaded. You could use 123 movies which works best with chrome and you don't need to d/l anything though the ads can be annoying and you need to close a few before the film will play.

  25. I look forward to sensory filtration, so I can just filter out annoying laughs, or edit annoying squeaky voices towards a more pleasing tone.

  26. Post scarcity is a red herring that will never manifest, time is a still a factor. Even in a functionally immortal transhumanist civilisation, so there will always be scarcity. Time scarcity is more compelling than material scarcity anyway.

  27. Date #10?

    Trying not to sound disrespectful…

    As a fellow armchair author of sorts, I wonder: We're you up so late scripting that you couldn't make sense of your writing any longer? Locked into a thesaurus when you can't find the perfect adjective or seeking synonyms you haven't used in 2500 words?

    Or, (Emphasis that I'm not being an asshole, just genuinely curious,) were your relationship(s)/marriage very timid for a prolonged period?…

    …For lack of a better term, as well as to "blunt an admittedly acute point" – Have you not had many relationships or did you simply happen find prudish relationships really often? There's nothing wrong with that if so.

    My wife and I (coming on 5 years) knew almost every major detail, interest, and pet peeve by date #2 or #3. And we had been very unsocial/unpopular/reclusive individuals up to that point.

    Probably a negligible detail at the very least. Something about the statement "by date #10 you'll find out X about eachother" created so many questions about the author that I had to ask before continuing the video at full attention.

    Oh! I need more snacks. Damnit. I never grab enough for these.

  28. Dear Isaac, I wanted to thank you very much for this episode. In fact, I would like to thank everyone who contributes to these videos for the great work they are doing. I have been reading "hard" science fiction since the age of 8, and attempting to write it since the age of 10, so the topics you discuss, and the way you approach them, have a special place in my heart. For someone like me, who gave up on TV a long time ago, your channel, and PBS Spacetime, stand out in the quality and ideas, even though you guys are coming from entirely different directions.
    This episode was very special for me for one other reason. Somewhere between 1998 and 2004 I actually sat down and wrote a small series of science fiction novels that I never came around to publish. And watching this episode made me realize that I was musing about topics back then that are now turning into serious discussion and decision points in our lives. So I decided to go and put the novels online, because frankly, by the time I will come around to try and publish them, it will be too late to do anything about those decisions. So I am going to be posting them over here https://medium.com/@yaro.tal/a-trace-of-hope-chapter-1-part-1-455e06c6ab3e at somewhat irregular intervals. I hope someone will find them a fun waste of time.

  29. it kinda sounds like in a post scarcity civilization there will be a scarcity of genuine challenge and yes, privacy.

  30. The only yardstick through the ages is pussy. The kings of the past got their fill but they didn't have air conditioning. Will there be a post scarcity world of pussy? How badly will that fuck up society?

  31. More data is not easier to search. Rather it is harder. Depending on the generality of the search (technically complexity, in the computer science sense of the term) the time and/or storage (required memory) can scale really disproportionately with the volume of data being searched. The best you can do is logarithmic, and that's only applicable for orderable, sorted data. More commonly, searching for literal predefined sequences among unordered data, you scale linearly, which already is in opposition to your point. If you are searching for regular sequences (such as finding all entries with a repeated sequences) in unordered data, you require exponential time (ouch!)

  32. Maybe the worry that "Big Brother Is Watching You" is based on the concern about enforced conformity, most especially of thought. "Right Thinking" would inhibit freedom in ways that we don't want to imagine. Once we allow that, we can be controlled in detail, if the governors (AI) want to. Being human would likely suffer a breakdown, mentally or politically. So, only if the Watcher is completely non-judgemental, allowing even perverse desires and activities, would freedom remain. Only real crimes would have to be controlled, and maybe by thought manipulation. Freedom? (shrugs to show balanced confusion)

  33. Privacy for a life of doing nothing but what you want whit slaves robot and virtual waifus? where do i sign?

  34. Don't know if you're still reading comments on this video, but thought I'd offer a point anyway.

    I think the only flaw in this otherwise amazing video is that you stopped short on a concept that would've maybe flipped one of your fundamental beliefs. Everything has a title, genre, or grouping name. Even the fact that everything has a name has a name. I think you ignored this, so when you talk about, say, a guy demanding 5 million cheesecakes, regardless of if there are enough cheesecakes in existence to solve that problem, you didn't assign a name to the abstract thing he's demanding, and you kind of assumed that this was an unreasonable request and immediately assumed there would need to be ways to prevent the desire/request in the first place.

    But why? In your strictest definition of post-scarcity, there should be 0 scarcity of anything. That means infinite cheesecakes. You know that of course, so I think your main issue was with "how can we actually deliver this request to him?" That's an issue of feasibility. And if a post-scarcity society has to have no scarcity of such abstract things as work-life satisfaction, safety and happiness, then why shouldn't it also be required to have no scarcity of feasibility? Everything should be feasible, or it's not post-scarcity.

    That's impossible of course, or at least as far as we understand the universe. So my point is not that a society that has infinite cheesecakes but can't provide them is not post-scarcity; my point is that I think your definition of post-scarcity is too abstract for any real-world applications, let alone fictional ones. If a society can provide the most feasibility available under the laws of physics, i.e. "We cannot give you 5 million cheesecakes, but you are free to order 5 cheesecakes a million times if you want," then how is that not post-scarcity? And if there are other things that are impossible to provide an abundance of, like safety, because they would make scarce another commodity, privacy, then I ask again how does that disqualify a society from being post-scarcity?

    I'm sure academics who debated and concocted the earliest ideas of capitalism might look at 2018 United States and say, "That's not a truly capitalist society." But I don't think that opinion is of a lot of worth, both because we are demonstrably capitalist and because it's likely the purest form of capitalism could never or will never exist.

  35. Interesting note: The house computer scenario fits the rogue caregiver synthetic empire from stellaris almost perfectly

  36. With all that information available in a post scarcity civilization, shouldn't it be extremely easy to create millions of plausible but fake versions of one's self, in order to fool those seeking to collect and exploit personal information? Also if someone, or an AI is collecting info without your consent or knowledge and that info will affect you, then couldn't another AI be monitoring for this feedback loop?

    This could result in a future where if an alien civilization that gets access to the Internet, they would think our population is many trillions of times larger than it actually is. Every individual could also have their own person digital army of sorts, that protects their information, while purposely spreading false information to anyone and anything which is deemed a threat to the individual's privacy.

    The problem sometimes when looking at the future, is that it's easy to imagine a future with just one area/use case of a technology.

  37. I wish my house would drug me everytime Im not in an optimal condition and hire comando teams to get cooki recipes, sounds fun

  38. I do not like the future you presented and don't see it as worthwhile to pursue. in my own life I find that I feel best and act best is when I have challenges to overcome and limits to surpass. I do not want a world where everything is done for me. I do not want a world where a computer constantly suggests and comes up with things I'd want to do. I could not stand a culture that accepts that. we have offloaded our memory and data into computers nowadays, ready to be looked up in seconds, removing our need to learn stuff by heart. now we propose computers that take care of the act of choice and any sort of initiative. Choice who to marry, what to eat, what to do, what to consume or buy. an entire future of indecisive infants being nannied by computers from crib to coffin. a pleasant life, sure, but WALL-E should not be our endgoal here. another thing Is Initiative, the will to take action, mostly found in boredom(the least form of disgust) or discomfort. if Robomirror makes doctors appointments for me why should I take charge of my life? a society like that seems to glorify comfort. any parent can tell you how important it is to say no to their child. to set limits and challenges. there is a deeply under-appreciated value of negative experiences, of confronting problems.

  39. This attempt at confusing us will fail, because enough of us want true stuff more than anything. Truth is beauty and beauty is truth.

  40. My favorite take on post-scarcity privacy was in the novel "Glasshouse" by Charles Stross (or maybe it was in "Accelerando"?) People can wear some kind of a "confidentiality mask" or overlay that hides much of who/what you are. They have also actual handshakes for key exchange handshakes (lol). And private "bag" for data and items where nobody else can peek in (I think there was a Menger-Sierpinski sponge, that is, a fractal quasi-space.

  41. privacy is only needed when authority cant be trusted or the laws arent just. the media shaping 'how' you think is a far more insidious threat than the cops reading your mind.

  42. The thing that keeps nagging my mind about "post-scarcity" civilizations is that the one we already have is one of purely artificial scarcity. There is literally no real scarcity of food (when a large percentage of all food produced rots without being sold), shelter (when vacant homes outnumber homeless humans by at least a factor of 6), similar things apply to clothing, vehicles, the list goes on. The scarcity we experience now is deliberately manufactured for the personal financial gain of a few powerful individuals.

    As for crime going down post-scarcity, lack of privacy wouldn't be the main driver, IMHO. Eliminating scarcity would remove the impetus for crimes like theft, which is often perpetrated out of desperation rather than desire.

    You bring up a good point that having enough to eat without having to spend half your day doing things you'd rather not to get those. While I'm glad that you've had the good fortune to have had work you enjoyed, the majority of us in the current society of manufactured scarcity are spending even more than half our waking time working and are often still not food-secure.
    The biggest hurdle, by far, to getting to a post-scarcity state of affairs is removing the artificial scarcities that exist only to keep the hyper rich in their position of power.

  43. If you keep this channel going as well as it has been, I predict minor speech impediments being a new fad. It's hard not to like you.

  44. Ok question:
    Since the (seemingly all knowing) computer in that future knows everything about me, it shoud know that if i feel crowded by too many people (not just in the physical sense but also in terms of privacy) and unease that develops into depression and anxiety because of the fact by being watched 24/7 what would it do if it is really concerned about my well being?
    (sry for my bad english)

  45. Privacy is a relatively new thing for the average person. Up until the 20th century, it was the norm for families to share just one or two rooms, where they ate, drank, slept and did indoor chores. Private bedrooms were a luxury almost exclusively for the aristocracy, industrialists and royalty. In Communist countries, whole families share just one or two rooms, mainly in communial apartments. A communial apartment is one consisting of just a single room or pair of rooms, a whole family shares this room and has to share bathroom and kitchen facilities with other families in the building. In the far future, private bedrooms, apartments and houses may be replaced by dormitories in which the entire population of a town may live in a single large room, with everything shared among them. And it's not just every room that may be shared by the whole population, even our own thoughts may become common property shared by everyone. Private property and privacy of thought may become extinct. I'm not sure I want to live in a future where even my thoughts and the like are common property.

  46. If these helper ai were fully sentient beings I know and trust I dont really have a problem giving up most of my personal information.

  47. I don't think technology should be used to enable people's mental disorders. Doing that would inevitably destroy civilization because it basically guarantees that you'll end up with real tyrants in power. In fact even building a non-dysfunctional AI in such a civilization would be a virtual impossibility since corrupt and immature individuals are not going to be able to build an ethical AI or treat their AIs ethically. Even if the human tyrants didn't wipe us out an AI tyrant is even worse since it's a very efficient self-replicating tyrant.

  48. One of my pet peeves about AIs going bad predictions is that they require them to be both stupid and intelligent at the same time. They have to be stupid enough to blindly follow some directive but smart enough to be able to carry out those objectives to the nth degree. Those two criteria simply can't exist at the same time. If an AI is smart enough to carry out some Machiavellian scheme, then it is smart enough to know that is not what its owner really would want.

    Even ignoring that impossibility, in a world where AIs are common, a single AI trying to carry out a dinner party is not going to be able to outsmart all the other AI that would be out to prevent it from getting up to mischief.

  49. I don't like this future. It just proves how stupid, dumband primitive we humans really are. Seriously we a fuck ton of movies, video games and comic books telling us that artificial intelligence will be the end of us. Humans are suck parasitic creatures. I wonder why aliens stick shit up our asses

  50. You may want to look into a show called Psycho-Pass. It's about a utopia setting that uses brain scans to prevent crime, and it is illegal to block the scans.

  51. Love your videos Isaac, I think you have one of the best channels on the english speaking internet.

    But I do have to disagree with one of your points around the 14 minute mark. If we look at the relationships of celebrities and the rich and famous, I believe that maslows level 3 scarcity has more to do with levels 5 and 6 (fulfillment, purpose, etc) than level 2 (the things you mentioned in your video). I know you sourced from divorce data, but I'm pretty sure those are an artifact of our legal system soliciting concrete and quantifiable measures of blame, and most people are too proud to admit "We are divorcing because she doesn't make me feel important enough" as the real cause.

    Thanks though again for the great analysis. I refer people to your channel all the time and always look forward to more.

  52. Advancment is a lot slower then i would predict. I started collage in 1971 with no calculators only slide rules. In 1994 i worked for a company's engineering dept. where my boss did not know anything about parametric design because of the lack of training and inovation. His head was still stuck in the 2 dimensional world. I thought that by now a position in a company would be a parametric designer. but he thought of CAD as being just an electronic penncil which was one of the worst things you could do. It is slow progess where The high end tech of China and Japan may beat us. Here in Canada you can forget about being a pipeing designer all those jobs are going to asia using automated design systems using parametric programs that they creat themselves. I used to work as a sr. mechanical designer where one designer i worked with did not know who Uclid was. China is even stealing night stocker jobs at Walmart in USA and Canada
    The shelf is stocked in China on a pallet working for $2 per hr. then wraped in plastic shipped in a container. unloaded by a pallet mover (soon to be by robot) taken by an open floor area (remember no shelves in a future Walmart). The a person with a job at Walmart would unwrape the product thats on the pallet. The pallet with maybe with the shelf be shipped back to China where a Chinees worker would stock a chinees product on a pallet then shipped to the US. So I predict that a future new Wallmart will have no empty shelves at all, just a bear floor ready for a made in China pallets.

  53. Great vid as always.

    Guess that's what China gov. is doing with its security cameras and Credit rating… giving Safety, and rewarding good habits and actions.

    Though the AI actions for a friendly dinner – I think it would value/ weigh the emotional sadness of its master to the value of its other actions + eg killing is +10 while embarrassment is -2. Killing will not cancel embarrassment maybe a joke could that's rated +2 as well.

    +the other guest have AI assistants protecting their Privacy as well. Guess it's who's got the better AI that's going to have the best dinner.

  54. hahaha, describing hopelessly outdated irrelevant humANIMALs… even from your "optimistic" description it becomes evident that the best these dumbasses can hope is "gentle ZOO" Singularity will give them (and they will even be animalistically "happy")

  55. I think as we get more enlightened and learn to accept each other more, the less we will care about privacy. I don't know if this means we would care if we had no privacy ever, but certainly something close to it. I trust future humans to solve this issue with a happy medium, have enough automation and AI that all of our material needs are covered, and some of our emotional ones, but build in limits as to what everybody's personal AI can do in order to make them happy. Find some optimal balance between happiness, privacy, and the expense of others. Humans work together, so should all the AI's we create.

  56. I honestly doubt having nigh-unlimited luxury would save any marriages. The reasons mentioned in the video are nothing but excuses when the true reason is just loss of attraction.

  57. Privacy destruction is NOT inherent in technology, and more than “soullessness” is! Granted, right now it takes more work, but we have for example open-source hardware and software platforms, like Purism’s phones & laptops. We have truly private digital currency like Monero.
    There are technical solutions to the privacy issue.

  58. excuse me. but. talking seriously about post-scarcity society is like talking seriously about wizards or magic. it is just a figment of our imagination ! you can contact me to get good argument against your crazy assumptions

  59. Are we sure that we want everything to be to everyones' liking in the future? Are we sure that we should avoid inconveniencing people in the slightest? Social media did this, when it comes to sharing ideas by creating echo chambers and that resulted in people's ideas constantly getting reinforced and everyone getting more and more marginalized to a point where groups of people with different ideas, ideologies and life philosophies are looking at each other like the other side is a different species already. And this is just with ideas, imagine if we built a system based on not inconveniencing anyone about anything, then we could create a society of rich recluses with impossible to satisfy demands. Such a society would tear itself apart from the inside or create a miserable existence for everyone regardless of whether or not their every need is met. Being somewhat uncomfortable has been the driving force behind human advancement so far. What would happen to our civilization if we managed to completely avoid any discomfort?

  60. This reminds me of a talk by Tom Scott: "Privacy is dead, what happens next?" It is quite possible that we will kill privacy because we do not care.

  61. What is the actual date order of this series? I remember an episode talking about the paths that could lead us into a post-scarcity civilization but I can't find it now

  62. So there's a tradeoff….

    In order to maximize convenience and ease of comfort, I have to surrender most if not all of my privacy and info.

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