A society in which all basic human needs are provided at zero or very low cost without significant human work can be defined as basic post-scarcity.

Our civilization is getting close to the point where this is technically feasible.

To reach this milestone as soon as possible, we introduce here the Basic Post-scarcity Map project, an effort to map the current technological state of the art and to understand how far we are from a basic post-scarcity society. We are currently in alpha stage, and we are releasing early to gather feedback and collaborators.

This project is an attempt to provide unbiased answers to the following questions:

-What technological advancements are needed to reach basic post-scarcity?

-What is the state of the art, what resources are available to learn about it and who is currently working on improving it?

-How far are we from achieving basic post-scarcity and what are the bottlenecks?

To accomplish this, the basic idea is to build two maps: the first where we will deconstruct the basic needs needed to reach basic post-scarcity and the technical milestones needed to satisfy them with minimal human work at the minimum cost. The second in which we input and update the state of the art for each of the technical milestones.

References to the current state of the art and the resources needed to learn more about it are collected in separate pages forming a shared library.

This is an open source and collaborative project. All contributions are fact-based, with no projections, opinions, marketing or propaganda.

We believe that having a searchable and living assessment of the state of the art will enable people who want to work towards this goal to know what is needed, what is currently feasible and who is currently working on what.

We are aware of the many limitations of this approach and in particular we know that technical bottlenecks are not the only roadblocks to a basic post-scarcity civilization. However, we also think that it is not unreasonable to assume that reducing the cost and the manpower associated with fulfilling basic needs will make it easier for public and / or private actors to provide them as widely as possible.

Our goal is to make this project simple to contribute and update. At this stage we need help creating technical milestones. Domain experts are particularly welcome to shine light on the state of the art for the relevant milestones in their respective fields.
Additionally, anyone with reference materials and / or knowledge of people currently involved in solving these problems can contribute by sharing their resources in the library.

The project is currently live at: https://postscarcitymap.org/

You can make contributions directly to the library by editing the pages on our Gitlab repo: https://gitlab.com/postscarcity/library/. At the moment the process of updating the tree is still pretty manual, but we plan to automate it more.

If you want to join us as part of the team and contribute regularly, we also have a Discord server: https://discord.com/invite/vhc8EZkmEv

We welcome feedback and contributions of any size.

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6 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 12:28 PM

Just some random thoughts: It seems to me that human needs can be roughly divided into three groups, based on what is needed to fulfill them:

  • material -- physical things, such as house, food, clothes
  • informational -- education, news
  • human attention -- doctors, police

(This is not a clear division, because you also need people who repair broken houses, etc.)

The easiest category is the informational needs, because there the work can scale best. For example, if you produce a great textbook under a free license (that allows free distribution and translation), it's just a matter of translating it, and delivering to everyone (cheap if electronically, more expensive on paper).

Material needs are somewhere in the middle. If you can define a sufficiently cheap functional standard, it's just a question of finding money for its mass production. Problematic is housing, because it also requires land.

The hardest category is the one that requires qualified human work, such as doctors. In absence of a human-level AI, this scales worst. You need enough humans to do that, their time is limited, and not everyone can do that.

Very interesting division, thanks for your comment. 

Paraphrasing what you said,  in the informational domain we are very close to post scarcity already (minimal effort to distribute high level education and news globally), while in the material and human attention domain we likely still need advancements in robotics and AI to scale.

It would be great if someone created a project like this for AI alignment. Is there also a link to the code for creating the tech tree?

Yes, the code is open source: https://gitlab.com/postscarcity/map

Hmm, this is an interesting idea that had me very excited at first - but I became substantially less excited when I realized how hard it is to use the edit button, heh! perhaps something like gitbook?

You mean the edit functionality of Gitlab? 

Thanks for the gitbook tip, I will look into it.