A Luddite’s Guide to the Future

We were disappointed to see the pedestal…naked…forlorn…its statue gone…its purpose defunct.

For more than a century, the bronze statue of Supreme Court Justice Roger B Taney — gravely pondering the weighty issues of the mid-19th Century — graced the park.

Now he is gone.

Justice Taney Statue Baltimore 16-11-2017

Justice Taney’s statue in Baltimore has been hauled off
[Click to enlarge]

No decision necessary

Now we are much better people.

Because now we have so many rules, regulations, and protocols, we have no choice in the matter. We no longer have to be wise, clever, or good. No pondering necessary. We just have to obey!

For example, you have thousands of choices about which drugs to take.

Many of them will kill you, but you don’t want to go to the grave after taking an ‘illegal’ drug. Better to take a doctor’s prescription; then your grieving spouse can sue somebody.

No fanny pinching without prior consent! If your wife tells you it’s OK, tell her to put it in writing. And consult a lawyer.

Unless, of course, you are famous or powerful; then, the President of the United States of America says you can do whatever you want.

And no tax avoidance…unless it is specifically authorised in one of the 71,689 pages of the US tax code. Or perhaps in the 459-page Senate tax reform proposal.

That is progress! Everything is carefully laid out for us.

‘Take off your shoes…take out your laptops…’ The SEC gives us 80 years of rulings to guide our investment morality.

And if the impulse to say something hateful to your neighbour comes over you, you’re saved: It’s against the law. Discrimination is unlawful, too.

And according to a full-page warning in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, it is against the law even to ‘steer’ people to neighbourhoods where you think they will be more at home (that is, where other people like them live).

And now, there is no longer any need to separate the deserving poor from the layabouts; the feds are in charge of charity. Old people? Cripples? Half-wits? The feds will take care of them, too.

That’s the great advantage of living in a degenerate civilisation; the authorities will make the decisions for you.

Robot butlers

If only Roger Taney had had access to the internet. Surely, he would have come down on the right side of that Dred Scott decision, and he’d still have his place in the park.

And now that we have electronic brains in abundance, there will be no more errors. No more moral failures. No more accidents. And no more ‘Oh, I didn’t know that’ replies when you are caught breaking one of the 10,000 commandments that govern our lives.

Our cars will be self-driving. And robot butlers will bring us our clothes in the morning. (No more mixing plaids…no more clashing colours.)

Yes, dear reader, here is where it starts to get interesting.

Back in the summer, Morgan Stanley predicted that quantum computing would soon lead to ‘exponential acceleration’ in the ability of computers to think.

Pretty soon, computers will be smarter than we are. They can decide what pants we wear.

Speaking for ourselves, we are neither surprised nor impressed.

Computers have been getting smarter all the time; humans, on the other hand, have been getting dumber. They were bound to meet somewhere.

Now, according to the experts, these smarter computers will do all the work that used to be done by bipeds.

This thought has delighted both central planners and cabbage people.

Zombie paradise

The former are busy figuring out how to keep control over the machines…and use them to create the perfect societies they’ve always wanted.

The latter are planning full-time retirement.

Where the two come together is in a Guaranteed Basic Income. From a post at Medium:

As long as we force each other to work for money in order to live, automation will work against us instead of for us. It is a civilizational imperative that we decouple income from work so as to create economic freedom for all.

Without an unconditional basic income, the future is a very dark place. With unconditional basic income, especially one that rises as productivity rises as a rightful share of an increasingly automating economy, the future is finally a place for humanity.

We don’t know where humanity has been all these years! But finally, the future we’ve all be waiting for. A zombie paradise. No work. No thinking.

Which just illustrates why it will be so easy for machine intelligence to overtake the organic kind.

More to come…


Bill Bonner,

For Markets & Money

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

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