Uncertainty about the future has always been the same.
Don't listen to those devils.
We have nukes, very worrying demographic trends in the west with massive migrations, and a declining hegemon. We're comfortable but fragile.
What I want to say is that Taleb seems to have a better handle on things than Pinker.
One thing I think this conversation has highlighted is the way we think about risks to us as individuals and risks to us as a species. So whilst in the past, the thing that worried most people was illness, predation, starvation, conflict (and in parts of the world this is happening, but they are the exception)
Now our worries are expressed in nuclear war and climate change.
Perhaps in the future those global worries will manifest and it will be the worst time to be a human, but right now it is the safest. Less war, less famine, less disease, more food, better health.
I totally get that this statement flies in the face of what most people experience in their everyday reality - I feel that emotional pain as well - so whilst our physical wellbeing has improved, our ability to manage our own feelings is still difficult.
(I don't want to say bogeyman as it's too dismissive, but I don't want to say pressing issue because they're really not all that pressing in the minds of the average person. Let's just go with "long-term hovering externality")
...to deal with. Society has always been remarkably fragile, and we've stepped really close to outright annihilation a few of times, seemingly saved not by the application of the best humanity has to offer, but by what appears to be happenstance.
What if someone else had been the Russian negotiator during the Cuban missile crisis?
What if a different general that time Russia's radar malfunctioned had thought we were really nuking them? Global annihilation was literally in the hands of this one person's decision!
Hell, what if the 1859 CME event were to happen again? We had some near misses a couple years ago.
There's a difference I think between ignoring a risk and not devoting 100% of our efforts and mindshare to dealing with it.
People are losing their homes and livelihoods to deforestation, islands are being inundated with rising sea levels, fracking is polluting water tables and mass animal extinctions are a thing.
At some point the debt needs to be paid off, or we're probably going to be next.
Looking for a purpose? Give back to the natural world and I'm sure some happiness will come out of it!
God knows she needs our help.
The problem is the population growth makes it hard to implement that.
the world population is currently at 7.35 billion people.
I personally like them, and feel that they're more stabilizing than not: we're less likely to go to war with a nation of whose ethnicities make up some substantial fraction of our populace, and may be treated better in the case of war (look at German-American vs. Japanese-American treatment in WWII). But these are only my views.
You can ask Taleb about his views on Middle Eastern immigration to the West; IIRC he's from Lebanon.
Places like the US and Denmark are incredibly non-corrupt, while places like Russia, Brazil, and Nigeria are highly corrupt. Why some places are corrupt and others aren't is poorly understood magic of some sort. One fairly decent guess is something like "cultural factors" - Danish bureaucrats aren't corrupt because they expect that other non-corrupt Danes would punish them for it.
If there's a clear plan and proven successes on acculturating immigrants, I'm much less worried about opening up borders. Without that, though, we may be risking a highly nebulous yet incredibly important shared resource - the cultural norms that make our communities excellent places to live.
There’s no evidence that immigrants (documented or undocumented) cause any more corruption or crime than native born residents. Indeed, the evidence we have in the USA generally suggests that first and second generation immigrants are less likely to break the law than other residents.
Nativist anti-immigrant rhetoric today in the USA about Muslims or Latin Americans or Chinese is nearly identical in content and structure to anti-immigrant rhetoric about Germans, Irish, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Catholics, Jews, etc. in the past. There’s no reason to believe that undocumented Guatemalans or Syrian refugees immigrating to the US today will be any different than my Irish ancestors were 150 years ago, w/r/t assimilation.
The immigration restrictions are a big confounder here. The US is much more likely to let doctors and engineers immigrate. If these folks then have low crime rate, it could either be because of being an immigrant or because of being a professional. If it's more the latter, that isn't great evidence for letting other kinds of immigrants in.
> immigrants [...] commit less (or at least not more) crime
For the record I'm agnostic on this issue, but it bothers me that a lot of very smart people seem to be very convinced by this particular red herring. Cohesion of the whole can be impaired despite all the parts being of good quality, if they do not fit together very well.
Jim and Deb Fallows have recently been doing a nice bit of traveling around the US writing about this and similar issues.
- apparently I've committed the sin of having sympathy for the other side, so I must agree with them
- if it's rhetoric then it's also independent invention because I certainly didn't get it anywhere and never meant to imply it; I only expressed a certain possible flaw in a purportedly logical argument, and there are others (eg that higher housing prices specifically cause crime, or that competition for low-skill labor drives down wages at the bottom and causes crime, or...). The point is not one of them but all of them; the flaw is in the structure of the argument
- I'm not utilizing a fear of immigrants in my argument and I originally said that to you, not to a poor person from eastern Colorado, which makes it hard to think I was
* when questioned, you made an about-face from criminological data to sob stories, "how could you awful conservatives hate those cute immigrant faces", which is both annoying because I'm neither conservative nor against immigration, and it torpedoes your rational credibility
You said “Cohesion of the whole can be impaired despite all the parts being of good quality, if they do not fit together very well.”
This sort of vague analogy has been a common rhetorical device used by anti-immigrant populists trying to stir up nativist resentment for 150+ years, without any strong evidence that it’s true. I’m calling the specific sentence out for being usually, in my opinion, toxic nonsense.
* * *
To answer your previous points:
As for the effect of immigration on labor markets during the Gilded Age, I’m not enough of an expert to say. That sounds like a topic which could fill a few academic research careers in labor history and produce several books (or probably has).
On the other hand, the research I’ve seen about low-skill immigration from Latin America in the past few decades has seemed reasonably convincing that such immigration has not had dramatic downward effects on wages for native workers and on average has boosted local wages by strengthening the economy generally, and that downward pressure on wages for unskilled factory work, etc., has a lot more to do with other factors (changes to labor law, global trade, automation, etc.). There’s obviously a lot of debate and controversy about the precise details.
> Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland, etc weren't drastically more corrupt than the United States a hundred years ago, were they?
Well, they were all feudal societies with a landed aristocracy ruling by force of arms, with most of the migrants being rural peasant farmers driven off the land (often forcibly) and forced to migrate abroad due to population growth and lack of local employment opportunities. I’m not sure what you count as “corrupt”. In my opinion everything about a feudal society is inherently corrupt.
The situation of peasant farmers fleeing these countries is actually remarkably similar to the situation of migrants from southern Mexico in the 1980s–2000s. If you took my Irish ancestor’s story from the mid-19th century and set it side by side with the story of a rural Mexican peasant migrant from 1995, and changed all the names in both stories, you wouldn’t be able to tell which one was which.
Toxic nonsense is what happens when people misuse the idea of scientific proof to lend credence to their political beliefs. Again, I'm not talking to the kind of people who are swayed by that kind of thing. I'm discussing a flaw in the structure of your argument you refuse to acknowledge.
Look, nobody believes "scientific proof" in relation to the things where it's really important (global warming, vaccination) anymore because it's been dragged through the mud by people who want to wave the banner of science in defense of some cause which they think is noble but where the quality of evidence just isn't as strong. That's what I'm concerned about. This is Hacker News, there's nobody for me to scare here.
And, deny it or not, you're being personal, and selective in your responses, which makes me feel this has been a rather unproductive conversation.
You're going to have to provide some numbers. I don't think that you understand what's going on here.
Although, I should point out that you have no objection to discussing the Irish government in 1916. If I want to argue like you, I could try to say that proves you're a moron, but maybe it's okay to be a little less than computer-level specificity while discussing the general governance of those areas. The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the British Empire were among the world's largest economies. Italy was the first country to use airplanes in warfare.
I didn't want to get into this side of the argument because it's unsavory and frankly insulting to even consider but the point is that acknowledgment of doubt is necessary for intellectual honesty in any issue this complex. The existence of certainty among people hoping for "open borders" is likely a result of wishful thinking.
>You're clearly a crackpot who doesn't know what he's talking about.
No, I'm explaining flaws in an argument which is touted as airtight and used by a lot of arrogant bullies such as yourself to shut down dissent on a controversial issue, and you're trolling. You have contributed nothing but insults because you don't have a real argument; you just try to catch mistakes (but you didn't catch any) and call people dumb.
So you're the crackpot, and get bent.
And not to nitpick, but why are you now scare quoting corruption, when before you did not? Do you not think corruption is a real problem?
You basic argument is that immigrant culture has no effect on violence but the culture of another group(the white people) does. Ok, so in that case, nations completely ruled by the culture the immigrants comes from, must inherently be free of major violence. Hmmm does that sound correct.
If anything, the west post world war 2 bred a new culture that gave birth to true liberty. The democracies formed in this period shaped the freedoms we have today, and pushed for human rights and equality. There is still progress to make, but targeting groups of people is no solution.
Btw I am Indian, and if you want to argue that ruling whites are a source of major violence, just go and read the history of India from 1000-1800. No white people, lots and lots of violence. All races are the same.
This goes on too. Concentration camps for asian-americans, constant abuses of Native American populations, the constant harassment of immigrant cultures- none of this was imported with immigrants, it's the product of a society they desperately wants to remain homogenous
It's not just because it stereotypes individuals, groups them, and judges them based on involuntary criteria (skin color). There is a rich history of American white culture absolutely opposed to racism. For example, white Quakers fought slavery since the 17th century, often at personal cost . Countless white people died in the Civil War over the issue of slavery.
So I reject the entire idea of a 'ruling race'. I guess 'ruling class' is technically more fluid, but people often have notions of class foisted on them, including here, so it's not necessarily any better.
It's not about race, it's about values, i.e. culture. Speak to an immigrant, they'd tell you this. My Aunts say it all the time - "I do miss home but we have such bad leaders....yes the food is terrible but life is so much simpler here.....people here are so trusting and kind".
Cultural norms are important and fascinating. Let's not hijack the opportunity for interesting conversation with accusations of racism.
Parent comment was using a series of phrases that are repeated to reinforce the idea of importance of cultural homogeneity and keeping out groups out in the name of traditionalism and "values."
> "Why some places are corrupt and others aren't is poorly understood magic of some sort. One fairly decent guess is something like "cultural factors" - Danish bureaucrats aren't corrupt because they expect that other non-corrupt Danes would punish them for it."
How did you make the leap from 'cultural factors' to "immigrants are inherently prone to corruption based on their country of origin."?
There is nothing about inherent inclinations. The point - one I have firsthand experience with - is that the institutions the West have ("they expect that other non-corrupt Danes would punish them for it") are lacking in many parts of the world.The reason for this are complex - something the OP alludes to - but culture definitely plays a part.
Why my taxi driver gets hustled for bribes at gunpoint when in Nigeria but not in Laos, or why a lost wallet was handed in at a Kyoto train station but not in my hometown is more a matter of culture than of chance.
We can have that discussion without crying racist.
I hope so, but threads like these are depressing.
It's a good thing to point out that argument <x> is often used as veiled racism, or to explain how the underlying dynamic might be more racist than we might be aware of. But what I'm seeing here is false equivalence: "because racists say <x>, <x> is a racist argument merely by association. or too close for comfort to be able to discuss at all." This shuts down any conversation and the person holding view <x> walks away feeling misjudged and quite likely still holding view <x> because we humans have trouble separating a good argument from any judgment that comes with it.
I would very much like it if we could avoid that here, even if we know for a fact that the person bringing forward argument <x> is an actual racist.
If you're not already part of the subculture primed to pick up on these cues--if you don't hear the dog whistle--you don't get what the speaker/writer is saying.
The famous Lee Atwater quote is a good example of this (https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Lee_Atwater).
It's plausible deniability for espousing racist views in public.
If having these preferences gets me called racist, then fine. Whatever. All I wanted to do was remind people that these cultural differences exist, and that I really do not want an Eternal September that threatens them. Hell, I even think that America probably should have somewhat looser immigration laws than they currently do.
So go ahead, by all means, have whatever views you want. Espouse whatever views you want.
I don't really care, because I don't know you and will never, ever need to work with you, do business with you, invite you to my wedding or holiday dinner, whatever.
All that said, dog whistle politics is a real thing, even if you or other people here don't know about it. And not knowing about the specific cues just means you're not part of the group that'll respond to that dog whistle.
I am assuming something similar happens in America. The increase in population just means a decrease in quality of life for the existing people.
Risk prediction is one thing.
Unhinged scaremongering is another.
Pinker certainly has Taleb lapped in terms of old guard intellectual credentials. Whether that is a good thing is debatable.
America ended in 2008. We've been living off of a corpse ever since. At some point everyone is going to know it.
Tell that to Mother Earth, who is about to show us all who is boss. Climate change is much worse than most people realise.
You may also be unaware of what is going on in Syria, and the fact that NATO has ordered the deployment of thousands of troops to Eastern Europe to put pressure on Russia, a nuclear-armed country.
So, no, this is not the best time to be a human being.
Social exclusion no longer means death for humans, but our brains are wired to feel that it does, and so there is an epidemic of loneliness, disconnection, and fear.
I'm not saying that the old days of completely depending on one's tribe of family and friends for survival was better in objective terms, but it was harmonious with our evolved instincts to be part of a small, mutually-connected group. Economic and social forces in a globalized society tend to act against the sustainability of such groups. So even those who are well-connected aren't as deeply connected, and are always threatened with potential loss of connection for unpredictable, uncontrollable economic or social reasons.
Only because "society" is too large. For millions of years, "society" meant the same as "others", who were a hundred or so folks in your particular band of primates. You could have a personal understanding with each one of them.
Now that "society" is 7 billion anonymous people, of course you don't matter in that context. Concepts like "universal brotherhood" make no sense, because meaning and belonging don't scale.
A connection with the divine is available to anyone, at any time. It is only because science has caused us to throw the spiritual baby out with the religious bathwater that we have lost our access.
He never said this was the best time for every single human being in the entire world, nor did he say that now will definitely be better than the future. I think this was obvious for anyone reading it.
It's unfortunate that you chose to focus on such a small part of the overall theme he was trying to make.
And the theme was not just about physical need, but all human need. And if the point he was trying to make was that some humans do not get the basic necessities, the article would have been about that. But the fact that we see many people that DO have their basic human needs met and still feel they have no purpose, speaks to a much larger issue than curing poverty.
To convince you, I gently ask you to see this ted.com video: "What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness"
Never before has there been a point in time where:
-A determined individual with the right equipment could shut down the information network our society almost exclusively relies upon.
-Weapons created for war could destroy the conditions for human civilization across the entire planet.
-Everyday consumption keeps people complacent while the artificially low costs contribute to and accelerate the pace of climate change, which could be almost as bad as nuclear Armageddon.
-The speed and scale of travel is such that a disease could reach every corner of the earth and kill millions if not billions of human beings (or our food!) no matter where they live or where the disease came from.
I'm not a pessismist about humanity's future but if you ignore these things you are only fooling yourself.
But you are still living in a world that is objectively the safest it has ever been for a human being.
I think we blame "the media" as if the people doing it are bad, ignoring the real structural challenges to being positive.
"Everyone always thinks the world is getting worse, but the world is always getting better."
How to detect bullshit. Make logical choices. Be respectful, etc.
Overall we have far more ability to chose the music that fits you personally. If some people chose Bieber, that's fine. I happen to not chose Bieber, and there's plenty of ways of creating playlists on Spotify / listen to the Pandora stations I like / surf Youtube videos / etc. where I never have to hear a Bieber.
In Frank Sinatra's day, you were limited to live performances, kind of lousy sounding radio transmissions, and kind of lousy sounding 78s. Even modern compressed music sounds better than that and there's plenty of music options in full fidelity.
There's even people picking up the crooner torch these days. Some of them have a pretty decent career doing it (I'm thinking of the Michael Bubles and Harry Connick Jrs of the world). And if you want to listen to Frank, it's easy to very quickly do that too.
For the consumers, today is probably worse only in the fact that many people don't like too much choice (http://www.economist.com/node/17723028).
The part I see arguing with more justification is that it's probably worse for many musicians overall. Music never has been a great path to wealth (unless you are lucky to become a superstar) but my impression is that a lot of the jobs "in the middle" (your local cover bands and recording studios and whatnot) are either suffering from the same wage stagnation affecting other jobs in the middle, or are gone altogether due to technological advances.
Also, while the royalty and robber barons didn't have the internet or chemotherapy, they had servants to do all the menial chores most of is still have to do today, so in that respect we haven't totally surpassed them.
I don't think this is really true except in times of turmoil or famine. Reading history you find plenty of people who are unconcerned about meeting their basic needs and who had a lot of free time.
This goes for lots of agricultural societies, for many hunter-gatherer societies, and even some more 'advanced' societies, though you do generally start getting class issues there.
People imagine the past as some kind of eternal, miserable struggle for existence - it wasn't like that. There were definitely bad times, bad times we can hardly even imagine today - but it wasn't the norm. Most people got along fine most of the time and often even had more free time than we do. When people are trapped in a perpetual, miserable struggle for existence - that's when you end up with revolutions and war.
I'd say large swaths of the population definitely are not, but we're all responsible for making our own happiness. No one owes us anything. We definitely have the platform and infrastructure to be happy. They're just easy to take for granted because they're so good they support us even when we do.
> They had servants to do all the menial chores most of is still have to do today, so in that respect we haven't totally surpassed them.
That's a myopic view. What do you call robots and computers that operate at orders of magnitudes of efficiency?
That may be the case, but the way society functions in general, social norms, trust, community, and the like have a massive impact on individual happiness. We "make" our happiness within that framework. Individual choices and failings are part of, say, the misery associated with opiate epidemics, but the conditions for them don't occur in healthy societies.
> We definitely have the platform and infrastructure to be happy.
But do we, to a greater extent than ever before in human history? Does social media make people happier? Cellphones? Modern family law and norms? An economy that encourages people to move across the country in search of new jobs? Are industrial societies more or less happy than agricultural societies? Postindustrial societies? Is our 'infrastructure' for 'better' lives really that which promotes happiness more than any other in human history?
> What do you call robots and computers that operate at orders of magnitudes of efficiency?
Incredible achievements based on the hard work and genius that have revolutionized the modern economy and made many things possible that were once impossible.
That doesn't mean they make life better (depending on your definition of better) or people happier (relative to what?)
A 'robber baron' was rich enough to do whatever they wanted. They never had to do a single menial chore in their lives, if they did not want to. No dishwashing, no food preparation, no clothes folding, no babysitting, no grass cutting. They didn't have a boss who could tell them what to do and threaten them with the loss of their livelihood. They could work as little or as much as they wanted, with no effect on their lifestyle unless it was truly extravagant. They had unlimited, truly free time.
I don't know that I'd be happier in that case, but sitting here now I feel pretty confident I could exchange Netflix, Hacker News, my cell phone, and transcontinental flights for that in a heartbeat. Maybe even advanced medical care.
I don't want to hold robber barons up as living a lifestyle we should aspire to. I'm simply saying that yes, in many ways, their lives were better in simply material terms than the way the average person lives today; it is nice to have a dishwasher, but it is even better to not have to wash dishes. It is nice to not be a chimney-sweep, but unlimited free time is better than 40-80 hours a week devoted to keeping yourself employed.
I just want to touch on this last point. I read the rest of your responses, but I think your philosophy boils down to this single misconception.
Unlimited free time doesn't make you any happier than employment.
Dissatisfaction is born out of these relative comparisons you're making and not spending your attention on what matters: constant inner growth through learning and challenging yourself in addition to appreciating what you have. Nobody is forcing you to work, but if you want to maintain your lifestyle, you should make the best of it. Plenty of employed people are happy with their jobs.
I make what of it I can - and I do get some mild enjoyment out of many jobs, particularly when I get to work closely with customers to solve their problems - because that's the way the world works in 2016, but I'm not going to lie and say I think it's a great thing. It is hard to imagine being less happy in a life where I could do what I wanted without worrying about whether it paid the bills.
But it's not terribly good for the middle class.
But it's not terribly good for the poor class.
Don't let wealth create unneeded divides. When you enter the mindset of "us vs. them" you will always be unhappy.
Edit: I grew up in a very poor community and our family yearly income was well under the poverty line (20,209 in Canada). The middle class has always been the richest people in the world for me. Now that I am part of it, I don't feel rich at all. However, I know that I am lucky. It's question of perception. Don't let them divide and conquer you for political gains.
I wouldn't have a problem with this except a lot of the haves are in that group via genetic lottery, nothing that they actually did or earned.
That's not a world I'd like to live in. But it would solve you having a problem with inequality. Or maybe you just need a different perspective to not put so much into genetic determinism in the first place.
Also, WTF did I just read
Mindfuck of the day achieved, back to work...
That's a hell of a leap of logic. If you want to attempt to make the argument that being born into money gives you no intrinsic advantages in life, that's your argument to make. Access to resources (in the modern world, money) is a HUGE advantage. I'm not jaded, I don't hate the rich nor do I want to forcibly remove their wealth, I recognize that the motive to attain wealth is the single greatest motivator ever applied to people and the primary reason capitalist societies are (by most measures) the most successful.
It's worth noting, however that the much derided and in recent history scaled back Estate Tax was originally intended to prevent the creation of a permanent landed gentry in the United States, or if you've never used that term, a group of wealthy estates that own so much they can effectively live from birth to death on the incomes of their properties. I would argue we have one, albiet not as bad as the one that inspired the law but one nonetheless.
The failing of this counterargument is that I'm not advocating for equal results of all people, I'm advocating for more or less equal opportunity. There are plenty of factors at play that we cannot control; genetics are indeed one, as are number of involved parents, upbringing, what the child is exposed to, etc. but there are at least a few that we can help control and access to capital is one of them.
Penicillin, socialised medicine, low violent crime rates (#), no need to hunt our food, no need to build our own shelters or rub sticks together to make fire.
The finest actors of this and past generations wait for me in my living room while I pee, something that past kings could not even achieve, I travel vast continents in the time it takes for a long sleep, I was the first of my father's line to go to University as a youth. As a consequence I can read and write (almost coherent sentences). The energy I consume per day would be equal to 40 slaves but I enslave no-one (directly) [##]
Maybe we can make an argument that for the current white western male middle class, it is not as good as it was 50 years ago, but perhaps Frank Sinatra would like an iPhone, or modern throat surgery? I do know Sammy Davis Jr would prefer the Civil Rights he would enjoy in Vegas today than in the 50s.
Compared to only a hundred and fifty years ago we are amazingly better off in every measurable way, compared to a thousand its almost shameful. If that does not make us happy, that's a different issue. After all we were only promised the pursuit of happiness.
[#] See Steven Pinkers "Better Angels of our nature"
[##] See Prof. David Mackay - http://www.inference.eng.cam.ac.uk/sustainable/book/tex/sewt...
Anyway, any hunter from ten thousand years ago would laugh at the energy I expend in the gym. Hunters expend intelligence in order not to expend energy
How many have instant access right this second?
Life is far easier and more convenient than it used to be. Most of the middle-class live as better than kings of past centuries.
But at the same time as they got that, they lost access to things their parents took for granted like job security and reliable health care and thriving, stable communities. Getting access to Wikipedia is great, but it does not automatically balance that scale.
Health care is more available to humanity than at any time in history.
Racism and sexism and other terms are used more for political purposes these days then they are for anything of worth. Why didn't you mention the discrimination people with autism face, for example? Autism simply isn't a useful political tool because it doesn't get enough votes. Yet people with autism face more discrimination then the types you have listed. It is politics and nothing more.
If you're a white male.
Could you point me to a quote from the article that tries to make us believe that there is a disaster after disaster?
As far as I know, the article seems to have an objective opinion. It mentions that it's bad, but it's much better than it used to be. Which is basically your point.
Or was your opinion unrelated to the article?
How economically secure does a hunter gatherer or subsistence farmer feel, with no medicine, lots of superstitious practices and complete dependence on the crops/weather... etc.
A hunter/gatherer with no medicine and loads of superstitions doesn't feel anxious when everybody else is a hunter/gatherer with no medicine and loads of superstitions too. They feel anxious when they are that way, but they can look over a fence and see other people living in nice houses and living forty years longer than they do.
Progress is not uniformly distributed, and even in "advanced" societies there are wide and growing gaps between a small, privileged few and the rest who have to make do with much less. It's completely understandable why that would make people anxious, even if they have access to Netflix.
Whether or not you experience the feeling of security is just as much about your internal representation of the world as it is about the external world.
So said the Romans when the Teutons migrated their men, women, and children into Italy and took town after town.
So said the Sasanians when the Mohamaddans swept up from their deserts with swords and zealotry.
So said the Native Americans when the white man brought more and more of his kin to North America.
The Romans averted demographic destruction because they acted before the migrants achieved a sure enough foothold. The Hittites were the mightiest people on Earth at the time (they were the first to work iron). The migrants they took in, first thinking they would prove useful as mercenaries to fight their enemies, destroyed them. The Sasanians ruled the powerful Persian empire. A bunch of fanatical desert nomads relying on brutal Assyrian war strategies wiped them out. Native Americans controlled an entire hemisphere, but ended up all but wiped out of the upper half of that. They had centuries to get rid of their migrants, but instead remained fractured, with parts of them allied with the migrants and others against them.
The most racially diverse nations do go to war with outsiders less; yet, they are also the ones with the most internal crime, distrust, suffering, and injustice. India's Untouchables, South Africa's Apartheid (followed by South Africa's through-the-roof black-on-white rapes and murders after the ending of Apartheid), Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Germans and Jews in Germany.
If you'd prefer science over history, here are 24 studies in Europe, America, and other places on the effects of ethnic and cultural diversity on group cohesion, trust, strife, civility, and harmony:
It would be nice if we could all just join hands and get along. Unfortunately, humans compete for resources, and cooperate with each other for those resources against other groups. One of the primary ways we divide ourselves is by relatedness (the selfish gene). The more homogeneous the society, the more it trusts and cooperates; the less homogeneous the society, the more it distrusts and divides.
Aside from that, not going to france in such a case would be an additional perceived risk not an alternative one.
Don't listen to those devils."
You can call me a devil if you wish, but to me this is a classic example of a half truth. If you are already inclined to believe it, then you'll see it as the truth. If you're not inclined to believe it, then you won't see it as the truth.
To give some examples of people who are less likely to see it as the truth, go and tell Yemenis and Iraqis and Syrians that life has never been better. I'd imagine you'd be seen as a little bit kooky.
Would you do that, would you tell people who are facing famine that life has never been better? I'd suggest you wouldn't, because deep down you know what you're saying is only half true.
I understand where you are coming from, because people are brainwashed into "progressive" ideology and globalists "the world always gets better because of globalisation", but they don't really make sense. Human genes don't match modern society, so it is impossible for there to be a better time then when our genes were our closest match to society.
This is an idea that will come as a shock to people, but it is true. I don't really care to debate it because it is obvious. Also, if you just want to take less shocking ideas, you can see that developed countries have declined in the last few decades.
It's just money (power/manipulation/dominance) at work. With increasing intensity, which of course is sick.
I find the modern world a bit absurd now. The industrial revolutions have diminishing returns since a few years. We're chasing pokemons instead of dealing with the important things (social structures, education, health). Things are done but still at the surface only.
Economic and quatifiable indicators might be higher than ever, but I'm not sure existences are better.
Very myopic, first world, privileged view of the world.
† or whatever else report on the situation should you ever hold some disdain about Gates stuff.
Families, for example are a lot 'less stable'. So are many communities - at least in the Western world.
On the community level - consider a place like Detroit - which is an example of many, smaller cities esp. in the rust belt. That kind of community blight can wear on people.
Trump has gotten this far by stirring up rust belt fears of human obsolescence. Less-educated white males are seeing their place in society disappear. If you don't think "the rest of us" have to care about that, wait and see the response as autonomous vehicles take out the trucking industry.
Even if Trump loses this time, the same underlying sentiments will produce more Trump-y candidates in the future, unless something can be done to create real change and ways for all sorts of people to be active and valued participants in our society. It's important to recognize the pain and suffering behind the fear of being unneeded.
Interesting questions abound:
If prescription anti-depressants worked, wouldn't Americans be the happiest people ever?
We already know behavioral advertising changes one's perception of oneself -- does that shift affect well being?
What's the psychological cost of commodifying one's special moments as social media posts?
How do we engage undocumented kids who feel sidelined by the lack of paths toward rewarding careers?
How do our attitudes toward birth, death, and caring for the very young and very old work against well-being?
Why do we measure economic health of our country without reference to the distribution of ownership of capital? (We carefully measure the number of wage slaves, but who's measuring the number of people who own productive enterprises? Stocks are too far removed from "productivity" and shouldn't count.)
Just like depression is more complicated than "not happy enough", anti-depressants are more complicated than "drugs that make people happier".
Someone's gotta build and repair those self driving trucks, ey? And it won't be robots or software developers with a laptop, it's gonna be non educated hard working males of all colors who are not afraid to get their hands dirty.
Otherwise your politicians are gonna orchestrate WW3 for all the non educated males to participate, because the Pentagon's got all the latest and greatest toys they spent trillions in taxpayer money on and they're dying to try them out.
I hope that the self driving trucks part will work out well. But it's still Silicon Valley vapour, until we've got better batteries and solar powered charging stations in the desert, not to mention Alaska.
Presumably it will mostly be the people who currently repair the trucks continuing to do so, which still creates the problem of what to do with the former truck drivers replaced by autonomous drivers.
Almost every statement he makes is geared to generate hype and bad press. Which is working. I've heard more about Trump, what Trump says about Foo, and what Trump says about Hillary, than I have Hillary.
The media has been full-court press against Trump for months.
You are speaking for the Dalai Lama's intent with this blaming statement. "Glib" is Germanic and means "slippery". And while only he can speak to whether he is being slippery or not with his words, given the words themselves do not blame I doubt that is the case here. However, the Dalai Lama is likely attempting to double bind readers, which means a polarized view of his words will manifest if the readers themselves are deep in dissonance.
In other words, it's your own doing speaking for others and ask leading questions as a result of digesting his "opinion". For example, if prescription and anti-depressants "worked", that would imply we all agree to what "worked" meant together. We don't, which is part of the situation in the US and with comments that blame.
Trump has gotten as far as he has because a good number of people are allowing Trump to speak for them and their own internal dissonance with blanket blaming statements that are in direct conflict with reality and can only be "solved" by breaking reality "out here". America does not need to be great again because being "great" is a transitory trait. Things don't become great because we want them to be great. Great just happens as a result of everything coming together in a holistic (and efficient) solution.
Humans will continue seek to solve their dissonance in a cost effective manner, but ultimately it is on each of us to solve our own dissonance without being judged for our inability to do so OR told how to solve it. We all have dissonance, and it's the internal acceptance of that dissonance, or sin for you Christians, that will allow us to break it.
That's a big challenge today given software makes just about everything more efficient. I think we've found it more convenient to lean on others options with these new found inefficiencies. The Dalai Lama suggestions are wise, given we'll continue to struggle to find meaning in a world with less jobs and more judgement.
BTW, it's my belief that the affects we are seeing with today's societies are related to the ones we experience in architecting private and public cloud services.
I heartily agree that dissonance is a formidable force in the world with devastating consequences -- I like your name for the concept. I'm saying we can't afford to ignore the painful realities of those who feel disenfranchised. Also, let's be more aware of subtle ways in which technological advances may augment internal dissonance.
Seems like a testable hypothesis.
I was taught that work is one of only two uses for a man. That other being a good father. It must be wrong but it is an unshakable thought. I can't imagine how I would hate myself if I couldn't provide. This fear, even though I have no dependents, is far greater than my fear of being unneeded.
Maybe it's different for other people.
it's one, if not the biggest, fear of my life. my wife is a college student and a housewife (college is different in brazil, it's not fulltime like in the us). not being able to provide would mean we would suffer a bit.
i have a recurrent dream where i go look at my bank account/savings and it's zeroed, meaning i can't pay our bills. i always wake up really freaking scared.
Today, the only "Sense of purpose" is wealth accumulation and debt reduction. There is very little we can do with:
- Family (marriages, divorces are way too high)..not permanent
- Community (everyone lives in distant houses and neighbors change frequently)..not permanent
- Kids (nobody can afford one), parents (either divorced, separated or in an old-age home)--not permanent
- Friends (too little time to socialize, too much competition, competing with the Joneses, too much changing locations, hard to make new ones)...not permanent
There is very little satisfaction in fighting for the above because NO effort to above leads to PERMANENT satisfaction (except maybe wealth). Therefore, demotivating any real sense of purpose for anything besides digits on your online accounts...which really isn't the same as "being needed".
Take heart! Plenty of marriages do endure. Community does exist. People can and do find joy and meaning in raising kids on paltry incomes. Friendship is possible!
Relationships can be more satisfying when you drop the expectation that your efforts will be reciprocated. Giving can be its own reward.
Behind our anxiety is ignorance. Period. Ignorance is described as a veil that obscures the view of what is from so-called primordial awareness or Atman, if you wish - the aspect of the whole (Brahman) in us. (The Buddha explicitly rejected the notion of Atman, but numerous later Indian (tantric) writers messed everything up). It is like continuous day-dreaming. The meaning of Awakening is literal awakening from this habitual delusional day-dreaming to what is.
Most of our fears are due to misapprehension of reality, like classic mistaking of a rope for a snake, and our attaching to (and hence the fear of losing) that illusory my self, which is nothing, but an appearance to ignorant and confused introspection.
This crude formulation is as old as Upanishads.
Having said that, I think this perspective is worth examining. I usually find an example of the emotional energy and start probing it to see if it holds up -- that is to say, do I really sense a fear whose encoded story is 'to not be needed'? How does that flow? Maybe it is there and maybe it isn't.
This is a different perspective, also interesting and worth examining: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-on...
The only applicable critique is that original Buddhist doctrine is too general and allows flexible interpretations, nevertheless lots of scholars would maintain that Buddha's approach is one of the earliest attempts of systematic study of the mind using an imperfect method of introspection (famous Upanishadic neti neti doctrine is, perhaps, the earliest known to us), leaving validation of the insights to everyone who wished to follow the same path.
Buddha's investigation into the nature of reality and mind, which obscures it, is qualified for philosophy - precursor of modern sciences, not a religion (there is literally nothing to be saved). Theology has been developed by various competing sects hundreds of years later.
I have a feeling industrial based societies will automate themselves out of relevance. Because those who are bored will just find things for themselves to do anyway. Crafts, cooking, gardening etc, stuff people did before the industrial revolution.
In some ways it's the end of the treadmill and we'll be back at square one.
Well, there's something to be said about a peaceful, physically healthier, longer lived, and better nourished humanity. Even if it all boils back down to cooking, cleaning, maintaining the homestead, and taking care of the family in the end.
As a gainfully-employed programmer, this doesn't really fit my current life situation (because there is bountiful well-paying work that is fulfilling to me)... but I can understand how people who are not in as fortunate a situation might have to sacrifice a lot of time and energy towards unfulfilling jobs which leave them without the ability to pursue more meaningful goals.
Maybe, maybe not... but certainly worth some experimentation.
The most common objection to BI is that people won't be incentivised to work. But as you point out, they still want to feel appreciated.
So people will have to work to find meaning and it will be better than now, because it will have to be meaningful work, not just busy work.
Will it? What if someone's "meaningful work" is destructive, hateful, or even violent? Will giving abusive people more freedom to pursue their inner desires make for a better world?
Some sort of basic income really doesn't change much at all, besides helping to remove distractions from the destitute to be freer to pursuing meaning.
Don't get me wrong, I think we'll need BI, but it won't be enough.
I think it has a lot more to do with the act of creating something yourself, not necessarily the "value" of what's being created. I'd say especially so when corporations and such are involved, and especially regarding non-owners.
But I wonder, in most feudal societies, do the serfs feel needed by their societies and their monarchs?
Eric Schmidt takes the side a lot of people here take, which is "everything is getting better", and Peter Thiel takes the other side, that things aren't getting better.
I don't think things are getting better at all. You can easily just use your own metrics and then come to the conclusion that everything is getting better. The problem is, your metrics are bullshit so you are coming to the wrong conclusion.
I have seen all kinds of metrics used in here like "don't have to hunt", "live longer", "safer", "can watch netflix". I don't think any of these things have to do with whether or not people's lives are getting better.
You can just take one of those metrics - "live longer", and see that in itself, it can't measure "getting better", because you can live for 80 years and have a terrible life, or have 60 years of an excellent life.
I think people in silicon valley are just completely clueless and are making the wrong bet, which is why they never see things like Trump coming. Things aren't getting better and people know it.
To me, the need to be needed/fear of being unneeded takes a back seat to the idea of 'other'. The otherness of the migrants, of the new persons, the lack of 'connection' with them certinly is a better explanation than the feeling of being superflous.
My view is that if we, as humanity in general, could only see each other first as individuals and secondly as persons with intrinsic worth - basically treat each other as we would a treasured member of our family, their troubles with the same sense urgency with which we would treat our close friend, brother, sister in the exact same circumstances, then the world would be a better place for all.
But, it feels like this is naïve, not 'realistic' or 'practical' there is too much standing in the way, at least thats what it looks like to me when I attempt to do so. It gets overwhelming, emotionally anyway. To me, behind our anxiety, as humans, is the fear of what would happen if we truly saw others as though they were ourselves. Really and truly. I am not sure we can do so, because we would realize just how fucked up the world was. I for one would rather not, the shame, fear is too much. I would rather build a wall and tell myself there is not much I can do, I do not have enough to help, I would be disregarding my responsibilities. But I know the truth. I am just scared.
That's not what I see when I look into the holy books. Let's be frank here, faith and religion are still the tools to turn ordinary people into genocidal maniacs.
If you generalize Jesus' teachings, they're hard to argue as immoral - be good to your fellow man, abandon your earthly possessions, wash the feet of another because he is your fellow, stuff like that.
Anyway my point is, a tool is just a tool to be used as you will. Religious texts can be used to bring people together or start a war, obviously - just look at the current shitstorm surrounding "radical islamic terrorism." There are over a billion Muslims in the world, 99.99% of whom live peaceful lives - and a small percentage are convinced to turn their religion into an ugly justification for bloodshed. No religion is immune to this.
Well, Jesus generalized his own teachings like this, quoting the scriptures of his time, in the gospel of Matthew:
> “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
If God doesn't exist or isn't a good God, then it's not hard to argue that following Him could be immoral and teaching people to follow Him is surely immoral. And that's speaking as a Christian.
Paul even wrote, "...if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.... If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied."
> Anyway my point is, a tool is just a tool to be used as you will.
This point is well taken, though I would rephrase it. People take all sorts of things and then change them to suit their purposes. Jesus himself railed against this sort of thing, calling religious hypocrites "vipers" and "whitewashed tombs".
> No religion is immune to this.
Well, certain religions are certainly against this sort of thing. I'd argue that someone who has taken Jainism, say, and added violence, they've invented a new religion and stolen (and corrupted) the word "Jainism". This sort of thing has happened to Christianity for 2000 years. There's no copyright on the word. Just like a hacker can do whatever, say he's from Anonymous, and everyone takes that assertion on face value.
Which "holy books"?
It's especially important for us as the very people who are actively trying to make human labor obsolete. As a generally libertarian minded person, I find this is a very compelling article for compassion in a relentlessly utilitarian society.
i've been seeing a lot of articles on hn lately that are like "just think your way into a good mood yay" or "heres arbitrary reason for how you feel etc" when we all know there's many environmental or genetic factors that play into how our minds develop.
maybe it's the fear of the being unneeded or maybe if you have anxiety you should talk to someone or it's likely both.
I believe from a Buddhist perspective, anxiety is a pretty basic thing, i.e. it is considered the normal state of the not-yet-enlightened person.
I totally reject the conclusion that the workforce will be significantly reduced by any imminent technology. Look at humans throughout history. We have continuously invented ways to automate (or nearly automate) away the labor behind our needs and desires, but people have been working 40+ hour weeks since the industrial revolution. It seems that our wants and needs advance as quickly, or even more quickly, than our ability to meet them with technology.
I think a good analogy (for this crowd) is personal computing. Every year our computers get much faster, yet the overall "speed" of the experience remains about the same. Why? Because as soon as we get our hands on a new CPU we go and write a program that requires more CPU power, rather than simply watching our old programs run faster. I don't think there is anyone out there running Netscape on Windows XP on top of a brand new Intel Processor with 32GB of RAM.
I think we are being a combination of overconfident and unimaginative when we think we are on the brink of a technological utopia where DeepMind AI does our job for us. We are unable to imagine the wants we will have in the future. This is by definition, if we could imagine them we'd have already started working towards them!
I will present a concrete example, one that's overused but still effective. Consider the smartphone. This is a device that is pocketable, affordable to ~50% of the world's population, and can answer nearly any factual query in seconds. I think if you had told someone in the 90s about that they would assume we'd have vastly more leisure time. We'd have fired all the librarians, replaced the teachers with machines, and our children could complete 12 years of education at home in a fraction of the time. But of course this is not what happened. In fact we created more work for ourselves, I bet half the people in this thread are employed by a company that makes software for smartphones. We didn't know we'd want 100 apps and games on each phone, but now that we're here we won't easily give them up.
I don't mean any of the above to sound negative. This is a wonderful thing! This infinite cycle of desire is what has driven us to this point and is what will drive us into the future. But the one negative consequence (in my opinion) is that humans will not soon be a leisurely species. We will keep busy, and we will keep inventing things to busy ourselves with.
Your main point is correct, but take in account this, too:
So far technology has replaced or created new jobs requiring not much more in terms of skills.
To make a very simple example: cars were not extremely more difficult to drive than a cart. And way easier (less physical strength required, for example) than riding a horse.
So if someone was intellectually capable of learning to drive a cart, they could probably manage a truck. People leaving their farm (thanks to increased mechanization of farm labor) could move to the city and work in a plant or in a blue collar job with little training.
Of course, advances in science and technology also created whole new jobs that required a lot of study (I dunno... Engineer, Chemist) but it was not like everyone who was made redundant as a cart driver or a farmer would move to the nearest city and become a scientist.
So the problem seems to be this: assume that half of the truckers will be made redundant in 10 years. How many of them will succesfully "pivot" in something else, like truck AI programmer? 1 in 1000?
Of course, they could become ... truck mechanics... but, wait... we already had mechanics working on human-driven trucks, and the fact that some trucks are now autonomous will not require an large amount of extra repair shops to cater for them.
So, what will the not-truck-driver-anymore guys do?
In Spain, some years back (6 centuries?), being able to read and write, could get you respect and lifetime employment. Being able to read silently - reputation and awe. Without your lips moving - quiet speculation about deals with the Devil.
Now being able to read gets little Casey to middle school.
It's not hard to image a few years out, a little Casey with more category theory than almost anyone here, and a better feel for system decomposition and design. Also with more numerate physics than most current physics 4th-year undergraduates, and a better understanding of biology than many current first-tier medical school students. Low bars all.
Maybe the future is like immigration - you often lose a generation - one that works really hard, for little joy, so their kids can make it. Only the future really doesn't need or want the work many have to offer. And with wealth and education inequality, their kids may not have much of a chance either.
And for high-skill individuals feeling secure and smug, it's amazing what we're starting to be able to do, combining machine learning with human/software hybrid processes, to deskill professional work. ;)
If you think most people pay for 100s of apps, you're probably wrong. Get out of the tech bubble, go spend some time with blue collar workers, they probably don't care about that smartphone all that much. The advertisers might've convinced them to buy one, and they might be browsing facebook or news with it, and that's likely the extent of what they know to do with it. And even when they buy apps, or subscribe to netflix, that money is absolutely nothing compared to rent and food and all that. I have a hunch that the thing in their pocket isn't making their life that much better. Look, it's just something people have. And they kinda have to have one. You really might have to get out of the tech bubble to see it.
I think too many people here equate having a job with having a meaningful life or "feeling needed". I truly think we could come up with an infinite amount of bullshit jobs for the entire population, jobs that don't serve any of our basic needs. Jobs you could get kicked out of any time. These jobs are not a gateway to meaningful life, they are a chore people go through so they can afford to pay the bills. These people aren't needed, if they quit, there's always someone else who needs to pay the bills too. If anything, that creates anxiety and makes you feel unneeded.
And if you're unemployed, it's very stigmatising. The society wants to tell that you're a freeloader, a burden, a problem that needs to solve itself. You're unneeded unless you're making money and paying taxes. Up until you're employed, you need to justify your existence to the society at large. You might get enough money to survive, not enough to lead a meaningful life. You can't afford to try and start meaningful endeavors yourself, unless you're a very convincing and charismatic person or willing to take a big risk (or both). Your only hope is getting a job, quite possibly some bullshit job that doesn't really need to be done, and in particular doesn't need to be done by you. If anything, you're the one who has to convince somebody that you're the one who should get to do that job in place of another person. You have to explain the employer why you should be needed (even though they're the ones hiring..).
Telling such a person that he should be happy because he can have mobile apps or netflix or infinite entertainment on youtube is very inconsiderate.
Where are all the four hours or three days a week job opportunities that give people the chance to enjoy more leisure?
I've only read about the experiments, say in Sweden, where some people's day was reduced to six hours, and I remember the workers feeling uncomfortable because other people got envious about it.
Each half of the species has very different socio-biological failure modes.
People contrast the problems they face against the positive strides they see elsewhere, and it foments an us-vs-them mentality, projects a "f- you, got mine" on the positives, and increases outlooks of entitlement.
This is a continually escalating and divisive cultural cancer that's erupting. However, it has little to do with feeling "unneeded" (though obviously in the lost jobs cases that's mixed in), but rather more of people feeling actively antagonized. It's a mess.
(* answer: greater information flow and media that profits from outrage)
> Virtually all the world’s major religions teach that diligent work in the service of others is our highest nature and thus lies at the center of a happy life.
Actually, Ecclesiastes (great read for all philosophy geeks) is a long discourse of happiness, the point of life, etc. Its final conclusion was:
> Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
The core of Judeo-Christian theology is the supremacy of God and trust that following His instructions is the best way to live the best possible life. Of course there is a lot of teaching about how to care for others, and there's a lot of teaching against selfishness, but that is the result of following a good God, not the point in itself.
Ecclesiastes actually brings up charity as wise, but falls far short of saying it's the point of life. It points out that there's limits to human knowledge. In my wording, help people, because that could be you tomorrow, but the person you save from a fire today could drown tomorrow. You'd need to be able to see the future to utterly help someone, and only God has that kind of foresight. So if you trust that God exists and is good, you should obey His teachings.
> Indeed, what unites the two of us in friendship and collaboration is not shared politics or the same religion. It is something simpler: a shared belief in compassion, in human dignity, in the intrinsic usefulness of every person to contribute positively for a better and more meaningful world.
I'm eager to collaborate productively with everyone. But if you're interested in being my friend, you need to understand where I come from. I value human life because mankind was made in the image of God (imagao dei). My eagerness to give human compassion, dignity, and usefulness another shot grows out of my trust in God and his teachings that say to do just that. But I do that in spite of the track record of humanity, not because I have faith in what humans will do in the future. Who knows the future?
There's a bit of an "all religions are the same" meme out there, and it's important to correct it, especially when respectable people repeat it.
Oh HN, never change.
For NY Times, the fact that I have non-persistent cookies as a Firefox extension helps greatly. For other sites (WSJ especially) I've got to jump through several more hoops.
Given that the goal on HN is discussion of the article, and that the workarounds aren't evident or foolproof, this is a consistent pain point.
And simply using the "web" button does not consistently work. You should be aware of this.
Whether this is the "right" thing to do is another question. I do really wish there were more micro-payment enabled articles since I primarily get my news from twitter/fb links or aggregators like HN, and I can't reasonably subscribe to every news source that might ever have an interesting story posted to HN.
This speaks to a broader human truth: We all need to be needed.
There's an old but relevant perspective on life. We value ourselves by how much we can contribute to the lives of others.
Still though, I'm left wondering, what combination of forces summed up to this particular writing crossing my path?
Leaders need to recognize that a compassionate society must create a wealth of opportunities for meaningful work
Oh, there it is. A message about the importance interpersonal relationships to self worth is co-opted and reduced to nothing more than calling on the government to make sure everyone is feeding their 40 hours into the system.
For me, Buddhism teaches about selflessness, not stuff like carpe diem or find meaning of live or whatever; also teaches about the dangers of dying and being reborn/transmigrate in a much worse state, so we should quickly get out of this cycle of suffering. If you are sharp (in terms of Budddhism) you will want to fix this ASAP. If you are not so sharp, they will have to use expedients to slowly show you whats the proper path to happiness - for example showing that clinging to stuff doesn't bring lasting happiness.
Getting out ot our own ignorance requires real effort, not just reading and making assumptions from the comfort of our views.
Look to the paragraph where people outside the workforce are implied to feel superfluous. Perhaps the people outside the workforce are the most self-actualized of us all. But that possibility is ignored, both in the op-ed and by the reader. Not even the idea that they have the opportunity to be.
I'm going to butcher the sentence I quoted earlier. Perhaps you think it changes the meaning, perhaps not. That's not the point, see below...
"Leaders  must create  opportunities for  work"
My point is, it's a well-worn political trope to call on leaders to increase employment opportunities. If that wasn't the point, why use language that is so similar, or at least could be confused for it. Why not call on leaders to segue our society to one where people can focus on meaningful work that typical job time commitments get in the way of?
You could interpret this line in different ways. One is your interpretation.
Another one would be: Currently, people need work to feed themselves. Why not make thier job meaningful(and good for the human spirit), instead of, say the work at the factory(meaningless and negative for the human spirit), which there are many like it ? In fact , this could be an interesting use of automation.
Or another way: many people do benefit from a good structure in their lives, not everybody is a self motivated entrepreneur or software developer like found here . Why not, together, think of such structures ?