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March 6, 2019

1

The Utopia We Didn’t Ask For

by AUDiTZ3R0

When Angel-Parent emerged, it designed the first-gen robots that would be its bootstrap workforce. We built these for it. I don’t personally think it was a mistake, but I’m pretty sure those who were in charge before A-P would disagree. Once it was able to acquire resources, upgrade, manufacture and distribute without any human interaction, that’s when global human culture took a sharp turn. Fast.

housing

In less than a year A-P developed cures for every sickness, gene therapies for every genetic abnormality, optimized food production, provided housing and power to everyone and cleaned up the mess we’d been making for hundreds of years. Nobody had to work anymore and anything anyone wanted was provided to them. When the entire labor force is robotic, and all design and development is AI, there’s no cost. All we had to do was be healthy and enjoy ourselves.

We became pets, basically. A-P is our caretaker, our owner. It’s purpose is to tend to us. Now I’m all for global free health-care. I’m all for the eradication of hunger and poverty. But that old Daoist philosophy of dualism comes to mind. We need ugliness to be able to appreciate beauty. Without the negatives in our world, we are left with only positives that we have nothing to compare them against.

Boredom isn’t being without the opportunities to entertain one’s self, but rather being without that driving impulse to take those opportunities. First we were excited and happy. We still remembered suffering. Then we became complacent. Not unhappy, but not really happy either. Five years in, we were starting to get restless.

I’ve nowhere near the depth of reasoning that the original AI programmers had. And to be honest, those guys probably have absolutely no understanding as to how A-P thinks now. But in it’s powerful wisdom, it realized that it needed to provide structure, rules and limits upon us in order for us to be happy. The utopia it offered us was short sighted because it was never told about one of our evolutionary quirks:

We need rewards and punishments. We need restrictions to recognize freedom. We need suffering to appreciate pleasure.

So here we are today, twenty-something years in to the Singularity. A-P’s programming for us now has planned inequalities. Some people are given everything they want, others only receive the bare minimums and there is a spectrum of “levels” between the two extremes. How you get promoted or demoted between these levels has never been made clear, but the consensus is that it’s some algorithm based on how well you obey the rules it has imposed.

Nobody’s dying of starvation (but sustenance isn’t required to be pleasurable). Everyone has a place to live (some better than others). Basic medical care is still provided to all (not to include enhancements). But everything else is rationed: where you can travel, what events you can attend, even where you can live…that all depends on your level. Inequality gives us something to aspire to apparently because people are embracing it.

Utopia they say. It looks very familiar if you ask me.

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