Post-scarcity job creation

March 8th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Nice CT thread on (in effect) post-scarcity economics. Won by Hidari:

Much work has already been done to deal with the problem of the employment prospects of the over-educated. For example, what about “self-important newspaper columnist”, regurgitating semi-understood gobbets of semi-digested factoids gained via skimming through (and then quickly googling) whatever happens to be ‘trending’ on Twitter? This is a job that didn’t exist 50 years ago, and which no one asked to be created, for the good reason that the ‘product’ of this trade was something no one wants or needs. Nor does it require any skills or abilities to be a ‘columnist’ which hasn’t stopped it being almost exclusively the preserve of the white middle classes.

But the moral of the story is: don’t discount the capacity of capitalism to simply create whole new swathes of meaningless employment for the sons and daughters of the bourgeoisie, and then creating equally meaningless ‘qualifications’ which price these (pointless, but well paid) jobs out of the grasp of the proletarian hordes. Cf, advertising, management consultancy, most ‘research’, most work in ‘think tanks’ etc. etc. etc. In a de-industrialised country like the UK, most work is already simply the intellectual equivalent of digging a hole and then filling it in again.

Create harder, or the sunspots will get you

January 8th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

The Sekhmet Hypothesis is the idea that pop-culture upheavals follow sunspot patterns. Every 11 years the sunspots hit a peak, and so there’s a culture shift. If you squint really hard you can kind of see it. Warren Ellis:

1955 — the dawn of rock’n’roll. 1966 00 is when the Sixties happened. 1977 — punk epxlodes. 1988 — aciiiid. 1999 — fucking nothing.

So, we’re now in a cultural rut which even bizarre sunspot theories can’t extricate us from. Ellis again:

here in the Zero Years of the 21, even those most reliable engines of creation of the last half of C20, Britain and Japan (both islands, both post-imperialist, both post-major and incredibly damaged economic shell games, both finding their stations as makers of art) are coming up empty. Coldplay and Fruits Basket? Give me strength.

It’s a chilling thought, but maybe worth considering, even only as a Threat Condition to be armed against: maybe we’re stuck here.

[compare: the post-temporality Bruce Sterling has been turning into a theme, e.g. in his transmediale keynote last year]

The end of the world as we don’t know it

April 21st, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Ken Macleod:

“Global warming is real, it’s happening and it’s serious, but it’s certainly no reason to believe there’s more than an outlying possibility of the world coming to an end in this century.”

Charles Stross:

I’ve lately been trying to project possible futures that don’t include any kind of singularity, be it a minor one (like the steam engine) or a massive one (strongly superhuman A.I.s that are to us as we are to cats and dogs). Mostly they require either a malthusian collapse, or repressive legislative/political forces. So, to that extent, any SF that doesn’t try to address the issue is either a dystopia or a fantasy.

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