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It's learned helplessness. People have seen loved ones die and remember they could do nothing to stop it. Past longevity research has not panned out, and people have grown rightfully skeptical about a cure for what has up to this point just been the human condition. Though I suspect they'd gladly take such a cure if one existed.

We also think of death as a great equalizer that allows new (maybe better) people to succeed the old (bad) people (e.g. Supreme Court justices). There will arise tough questions about labor, retirement, marriages, population, and democracy currently solved by death, that our existing political institutions are not remotely ready to answer in its absence.


Very comprehensive. I can think of a few more:

Transcendant AI: AGI discovers exotic physics beyond human comprehension and ways to transcend physical reality, and largely leaves us alone in our plane of reality. Kind of magical thinking, but this is the canonical explanation for AI friendliness in Iain M. Banks' Culture series, with the Sublime.

Matrix AI: We're in a Simulation of "the peak of humanity" and the laws of the Simulation prevent AGI.

Pious AI: AGI adopts one of the major human religions and locks in its values. Vast amounts of superintelligent cognition is devoted to philosophy, apologetics, and rationalization. It could either proclaim itself to be some kind of Messiah, or merely God's most loyal and capable servant on Earth and beyond.

That last one's a little Reddit-atheist of me but faith is a very common but underappreciated human value around here. Perhaps to the dismay of atheists, a failed or naïve attempt at CEV converges on religion and we get Pious AI. I know enough otherwise-intelligent and competent adults who believe in young Earth creationism to suspect even superintelligences are not immune to the same confirmation bias and belief in belief.

If we don't have AGI at the level of diamondoid nanotech bacteria, it may be possible to reliably identify humans using some kind of physical smart card system requiring frequent or continuous re-authentication via biometric sensors, similar to breathalyzers / ignition interlock devices installed in the cars of DUI offenders.

Not the most practical or non-invasive method that could be deployed for online services, but it is fairly secure if you're in a lab trying to keep an AGI in a box.

As for online solutions not requiring new hardware, recently I had to take a "video selfie" on my phone matching a scan of my driver's license for as part of my unemployment benefits application. I'm fairly certain this could be fooled, but that's how our government is handling it now.

Oops, turns out I confused r > g with something else I heard. Going to retract, maybe I can salvage this and rewrite for the next open thread.

IRC and Study Hall lurker here, thought I'd post a Reddit-tier ramble not up to par with the rest of this site. Without further ado, my first post:

I've been all over the spectrum. I'm highly skeptical of big corporate capitalism these days, but I do believe in free markets. The rules of classical economics are logically sound, but they're not very humane.

The sad truth is that employees are expendable, and only paid as much as there are people able and willing to do the job. Today's job shortage and labor surplus means low wages and benefits for those lucky enough to land a position. If there were no minimum wage, as there isn't in much of the so-called "third world", McDonald's employees would be paid less than dirt - that is the true market value of unskilled labor in the 21st Century.

At UMass Amherst, I had the pleasure of attending a live seminar featuring economist Thomas Piketty, who popularized an important truth about wealth today: r > g. That is, returns on capital exceed economic growth.

At the time of its $1B acquisition by Facebook, Instagram had just 13 employees. Can you really blame firms and startups for trending toward minimalism? They're reaping megacorporate profits on their capital without any of the dehumanizing bureaucracy of a staff exceeding Dunbar's Number. HR lied to you, you're nowhere close to your company's "greatest asset". This is r > g in the real world: when employees go from being an asset, to a liability.

Today's wealth trends toward massive consolidation into the hands of monopolies or duopolies like Apple, Google, Walmart and Amazon. These companies are so lucrative, so productive that we should be living in an age of abundance, but we're not. Expendable employees work more hours than ever for less reward.

I believe we might actually be on the verge of realizing the dream of Marxist utopia, but not in the way you might expect. When Americans think of socialism or communism, they think of authoritarian interpretations like Bolshevism, Maoism, Nazism, or Juche. They don't think of more libertarian interpretations like prehistoric tribes, Nordic countries, The Venus Project, or Bernie Sanders.

I'm a proponent of "Fully Automated Luxury Communism" with relatively free markets. I wish for a society where people work not because they have to, but because they want to, whether for profit, or for self-actualization and fulfillment. Personally, I want more of the latter out of my work, because profit is often funneled directly into consumption.

I find society's overconsumption quite disgusting - obesity, environmental damage, conspicuous consumption, resource depletion, you name it. We slaughter 9.08 billion chickens every year in America alone to satisfy the population's craving for McNuggets, and that's not even getting into how wasteful beef is. I don't know if we'll ever see an end to such detritus, but I'm somewhat hopeful for virtual reality and lab-grown meat to be able to fulfill people's desires more sustainably.

We don't have the tech or resources to automate every unfulfilling, expendable "job" right now, but we probably will by midcentury. The question is, will society opt to adopt something like Basic Income, or will we continue to romanticize manufacturing and revert to the way "we've always done it"? Trump makes me unoptimistic.

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