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joined 05 Sep 2022


User ID: 342



0 followers   follows 0 users   joined 05 Sep 2022


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User ID: 342

The most common response to "AI took my job" is "don't worry, soon the AI will take everyone's jobs, then we'll all have UBI and we won't have to work anymore." The basic thesis is that after the advent of AGI, we will enter a post-scarcity era. But, we still have to deal with the fact that we live on a planet with a finite amount of space and a finite number of physical resources, so it's hard to see how we could ever get to true post-scarcity. Why don't more people bring this up? Has anyone written about this before?

Let's say we're living in the post-scarcity era and I want a Playstation 5. Machines do all the work now, so it should be a simple matter of going to the nearest AI terminal and asking it to whip me up a Playstation 5, right? But what if I ask for BB(15) Playstation 5's? That's going to be a problem, because the machine could work until the heat death of the universe and still not complete the request. I don't even have to ask for an impossibly large number - I could just ask for a smaller but still very large number, one that is in principle achievable but will tie up most of the earth's manufacturing capacity for several decades. Obviously, if there are no limits on what a person can ask for, then the system will be highly vulnerable to abuse from bad actors who just want to watch the world burn. Even disregarding malicious attacks, the abundance of free goods will encourage people to reproduce more, which will put more and more strain on the planet's ability to provide.

This leads us into the idea that a sort of command economy will be required - post-scarcity with an asterisk. Yes, you don't have to work anymore, but in exchange, there will have to be a centralized authority that will set rules on what you can get, and in what amounts, and when. Historically, command economies haven't worked out too well. They're ripe for political abuse and tend to serve the interests of the people who actually get to issue the commands.

I suppose the response to this is that the AI will decide how to allocate resources to everyone. Its decisions will be final and non-negotiable, and we will have to trust that it is wise and ethical. I'm not actually sure if such a thing is possible, though. Global resource distribution may simply remain a computationally intractable problem into the far future, in which case we would end up with a hybrid system where we would still have humans at the top, distributing the spoils of AI labor to the unwashed masses. I'm not sure if this is better or worse than a system where the AI was the sole arbiter of all decisions. I would prefer not to live in either world.

I don't put much stock in the idea that a superhuman AI will figure out how to permanently solve all problems of resource scarcity. No matter how smart it is, there are still physical limitations that can't be ignored.

TL;DR the singularity is more likely to produce the WEF vision of living in ze pod and eating ze bugs, rather than whatever prosaic Garden of Eden you're imagining.


Internet addiction is something that I've struggled with for well over a decade now. Innumerable days, weeks, probably years, lost to aimless scrolling with no goal in particular. My interests are more "intellectual" than the average social media addict who only looks at TikTok and Instagram, so perhaps my habits are more defensible in that regard, but I think it's still had a significant negative impact on my life and has prevented me from spending more time on things that I actually care about.

I wanted to see if anyone struggles with the same issues, and also share some of my recent thoughts on the nature of internet addiction.

  • First, it has to be recognized that the internet can be both a force for great good and a force for great evil. Unlike hard drugs, total abstinence is neither possible nor desirable. The internet made me the person I am today, and gave me so many wonderful, unforgettable experiences. I can't just repudiate it entirely - rather I have to learn to live with it, and take better control of my relationship with it.

  • I don't support the use of strategies like apps that automatically cut off your access during certain times of the day. Nietzsche once said something to the effect of, "only the weak man wants to pluck out his eyes to avoid looking at lustful things". It's a sentiment I agree with. Any solution that "forces" you to reduce browsing time is just putting a band-aid over the problem. The goal is to fundamentally reconfigure your desires and dispositions so they're more naturally aligned with your actual goals.

  • A key factor in understanding internet addiction is understanding the need to accept boredom. Before smartphones, people used to get bored way more often. Sometimes you'd just have to sit there with literally nothing to do, not even anything to think - you won't always want to read a book, or entertain yourself with your own thoughts. Smartphones permanently cured boredom - scrolling the web is infinitely entertaining, and takes zero effort. It's like a liquid that seeps in through the cracks furnished by boredom and gradually fills up all available space, taking over every second of time that you have. I think that one of the biggest keys to reconfiguring my relationship with the internet, for me anyway, is accepting and embracing that there will simply be times where I am bored and I just sit there doing literally, absolutely nothing. But that's not an excuse to resort to web browsing in those cases.

  • I'm currently trying to take an organic approach where I accept that the internet is extremely fun and beneficial, and I will browse it multiple times a day, but I try to consciously remind myself to limit it and make time for other things as well. For example, making short-term plans like "I won't look at my phone until I'm back from my morning walk, at which points I will check websites X Y and Z, and then I won't look at my phone again until after lunch". We'll see how it goes. The unfortunate thing about addiction isn't that any one mitigation strategy is difficult to implement and stick to, but rather that I seem to have little control over exactly what person I'm going to be next week. I always seem to wind up back in a place where, on a meta-level, I simply no longer have a desire to control my web browsing at all and I no longer see it as a problem, so I ditch any prevention strategy and I just go back to unrestricted scrolling. I'd really like to fundamentally reconfigure myself so that doesn't happen anymore. But I don't know how to do that.

I view this as a societal problem, not just an individual problem with me. I saw a family of three at a restaurant the other day, mom and dad and a young boy, and all three of them were glued to their phones, ignoring each other. That made me very sad. I hope that more will be done in the future to raise consciousness of internet addiction, and smartphone addiction in particular.