Tuesday, 5 January 2016

The Solar Union: Unemployment III

In some works of speculative fiction, a representative of a future society explains that society to a time traveler or to a returned relativistic space traveler. In Poul Anderson's "Quixote and the Windmill," two drunks explain their society to each other. Their social positions differ so their perspectives are complementary:

"'Machines do all the routine work, all of it, they produce so much that the basic necessities of life are free.'
"'The hell. They want money for everything.'
"'Not much. And you get your citizen's allowance, which is just a convenient way of making your needs free.'"
-Poul Anderson, Cold Victory (New York, 1982), pp. 20-21.

So what is the role of money? The machines are not paid a wage or salary. However, human servotechnicians and their managers are. So who pays them? In an earlier post, I listed the human beings who still work:

highly skilled and trained engineers and technicians;
scientific geniuses;
tavern keepers.

Several of these groups might be self-employed? The Solar Union government might easily employ the rest. So no longer any private employers?

Brady was bored as a servotechnician but is not bright enough to be employed as a mathematician although he has studied that subject as hard as possible. But why should he be employed in order to continue the study and application of mathematics? To satisfy the needs, not just the physical needs, of its citizens, the Union should allocate resources to enable people like Brady to engage with their preferred areas of study as long as they live. If artificial intelligences are doing "'...independent research...[a]t a higher level than the human brain can operate...'" (p. 23), then human beings can spend life-times stretching their own abilities and discussing the AI's discoveries.

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