Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

I feel strongly that the long term solution is to end our reliance on jobs for individual survival. If we automate the industries that produce what people need for survival, and we find some way of collectivizing those industries (I only support voluntary non governmental collectivization of industry via common share holding schemes), then we can make the marginal cost of living close to zero.

To me it seems perfectly reasonable that in 50-100 years people would no longer need to work to stay alive (as the norm). Productivity will continue to grow due to the high output (assisted by automation) of those who continue to work. The limits of a life supported by public infrastructure will still encourage anyone capable of doing useful work to do so, but no one would be cast away and suffering from lack of work.

I write about this at: http://tlalexander.com/machine

I only support voluntary non governmental collectivization of industry via common share holding schemes

There is such a thing as a Sovereign Wealth Fund:


"The fund is among the world's biggest investors in stocks, owning $667 billion worth of shares in over 9,000 companies globally. It owns on average 1.3% of all listed companies worldwide"

Your thoughts seem to have some similarity to the writings of Richard Wolff (WSDE, Worker self-directed enterprises, essentially cooperatives). AFAIU Noam Chomsky is also advocating similar stuff. Though not in the context of vast unemployment caused by AI/automation.

But yeah, if it turns out that the AI/automation revolution leaves vast numbers of people unemployed, we're in for some drastic social upheaval. Hopefully it will not result in a repeat of the bloodbaths of the 20th century communist revolutions.

You've correctly identified some of my heaviest influences. ;)

I've met Richard Wolff and have read his book Democracy at Work (which he signed). I'm also interested in what Gar Alperovitz talks about among others.

Chomsky has talked at length about automation. AI is a new one, but even back in the 1960's Martin Luther King Jr was talking about how to overcome the problems of automation. This Noam Chomsky interview [1] from 1976 talks about his belief in something like The Machine. He says that it makes sense for an advanced technological society to automate away the drudgery of survival. He goes further to elaborate how work that can't be automated could be shared amongst the people rather than relegating one class of society to do that work. In a way, deciding not to have class suddenly means you want to automate as much as possible, because in either case you don't want to do the hard work yourself. We can only maintain a class based society because we're satisfied making some people do work we don't want to do.

What I write about, is how you can make your society in to sort of a small closed system, where there becomes a fixed number of things needed to maintain a certain standard of living. People can then decide if that standard of living is better than life in the more traditional worker-based capitalist system, where most people end up being workers. And to reiterate - the system I'm describing still meets the definition of "capitalist" by most western libertarian standard, because it is still based on voluntarily agreed contracts and depends on the notion of private property (shares) to operate. It also necessarily requires economic (capitalist) exchange to the outside world to get things the society cannot itself produce. It's an engineering solution, in my mind, to what Chomsky and others talk about.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_x0Y3FqkEI

Karl Marx once imagined an idealized economy. He called it communism. These theories rarely work in practice. I can't say with confidence whether or not your theory will succeed, but speaking purely from a perspective of probability, what you propose will unlikely be what's ahead for us in the future.

Thanks for your comment! Sorry for the downvotes, I see you're actually trying to make good conversation.

I think Marx's analysis of capitalism is over emphasized as a cause of the murderous regimes we saw under the "Communist" label in the 20th century. Stalin wanted control of the people, and he knew that Marx was very popular among the people at the time. But while I'm not an expert on all of these things, I don't think Marx advocated for the violent methods we saw used by those brutal regimes who used his name. And remember, Capitalist nations like the US were violent too (millions killed in Vietnam, and for what exactly?), but we don't blame Adam Smith or David Ricardo for those horrors.

When I do mention communism, I mean an agreement between people where some good or service it shared amongst them without any individual or individuals laying specific claim to more than their fair share. Families operate this way with food for example, and employers like Google share food freely this way too. I'm advocating that we build robots that are owned by huge groups of people who then share the rewards of the machines freely.

So it's "communism" because certain things are shared by the community, but people can still have their own private property and make other choices about what they do. It's a libertarian, non-violent non-coercive way to achieve a sort of voluntary communism for only life's most important goods (as decided by the people who choose to participate in these sharing schemes).

I hope that clears it up somewhat!

Not 'rarely,' never. Every time "pure" communism has been tried, it has ended is misery, death, disease, and horror.

What do you think led to misery, death, disease, and horror? I do feel that Capitalist nations also continue to be responsible to misery, death, disease and horror (typically in far off places).

I'm doubtful that "Capitalist nations" exist in the sense of nations founded on an ideology called Capitalism. My impression is that "Capitalism" was originally a pejorative term created by opponents to the established order and came over time to be adopted as a reaction by some of those being criticized to mean what they wanted it to mean. So we have an ongoing struggle over the meaning of the word, and reasoning based on a pretense of shared understanding of the meaning is not productive.

It's not as though someone wrote a Capitalist manifesto that initiated the practice of Capitalism.

You're conflating capitalism with colonialism / imperialism.

Not a single communist thinks "pure" communism has ever been tried, do you think you're being intellectually dishonest and strawmaning "whatever Mao did" as communism instead of using the vast philosophical works of leftists to define it?

Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact