Background Reading (optional for the discussion)
A post-scarcity society can be defined as a society in which all the basic needs of the population are met and provided for free. A common belief is that moving to such a desirable state, if possible at all, will require futuristic technologies to eliminate the scarcity of material resources. In this writeup I emphasise how what’s actually stopping us from being post-scarcity is not lack of resources, but the forced reliance on human labour. Given these premises, I lay out an actionable roadmap to post-scarcity and I highlight the role of automation and Universal Basic Income in the process. This analysis suggests that post-scarcity is within reach well inside the current century with current technologies, assuming a sustained progress in the field of artificial intelligence.
Do you agree with automation being the real missing piece to post-(basic)scarcity? And what is the smoothest roadmap to such an economy, which minimise the trauma for the displaced jobs?
I find myself wondering whether we have even hit the scarcity threshold. Define post-class society where everybodys basic needs are met at comparable costs (as contrast to post-scarcity would be without cost). However even if you are full-time employed it seems that in part of first world countries your healthcare, food and shelter might still be lacking. Having economic traps that keep you down, obstacles to education makes it so that there are positions where having your basic needs met is not possible or disproportionally costly.
If you have an economy that allows for the kind of transactions that will give one person a yacth and deprive 4 persons of shelter, this is unlikely to be constructive for universal progress. Income inequality will keep post-scarcity at arms length if the wealth allows for better entrenchment of class boundaries. That everybody gets more won't directly touch on the mechanic that you could get more if you create jobs that exploit the blight of others. The real tipping point is where looking out for your society is more practical than for your personal/your companies outlook.
No. I believe automation is a component towards post-scarcity - but one that's already largely in place.
The median can stagnate (or even asymptote to zero) even as the mean diverges to infinity. Any attempt to transition to post-scarcity needs to address this, as does any attempt to state we are on the path towards a post-scarcity society based on mean-value estimates.
I would state (without much backup, so take this with a grain of salt) that this is the main missing piece.
US Meats Poultry, and Fish CPI / US median family income was less in 2014 than it was in 1992. (Alternatively: a median US family could buy the CPI MPF basket in 1992 using a lower percentage of their income than in 2014.) (Source is https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEFAINUSA672N, but there's no way to deeplink an advanced graph that I can find. So: edit graph -> edit line 1 -> customize data -> "Producer Price Index by Commodity: Processed Foods and Feeds: Meats, Poultry, and Fish" -> Add -> formula -> b/a -> Apply. Series in question are WPS022 and MEFAINUSA646N.)
(Admittedly, this is comparing a peak with a trough.)
(If anyone could find (unadjusted) total-income info for the bottom, say, 1% of people in the US, over a long timescale, that would be interesting.)