Life would be better if we didnt need to work

  • October 5, 2013 · 3:00 PM

We are hoping this will be more of a debate type of meeting , with 2 opposing points of view - that work is best the less there is of it, or that work is ennobling and the best we can do. please come ready to defend one or other position.

Is the Labour theory of value (Marxist economics) relevant? Perhaps anything on what makes life meaningful (if anything?) But try to stick reasonably closely to work.

I think two Utopia stories give us some interesting imaginative pictures: the Ian M Banks "Culture", which features in many novels and is first introduced in "Consider Phlebas", where there is no money because resources and energy are effectively unlimited in a galactic future civilization, or Ursula Le Guin's "The Dispossessed" about a planet Anares where there is also no money, the economy just keeps them alive, but everyone just gets on with working for the common good because they believe that their planet has a better way than Urras, the mother planet, an exploitative class-based but rich society. Ecotopia is also worth looking at - the western US States break away and adopt of ecologically sound society - they have money but they also have strong comunitarian values.

But maybe we don't need to consider whole societies. Does one person who chooses to work as little as possible need to justify him/herself? Is this therefore just a "life-style choice"? If it is, the answer is "Ok, it's up to you." If it's intended to apply to everyone, then maybe its a philosophical issue.

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  • Rizwan

    Totally related to our discussion is this podcast by philosophers on work and how we can implement new modes of thinking and doing to progress beyond our current jobs model http://www.partiallyexaminedlife.com/2013/10/10/ep83-frithjof-bergmann/

    October 14, 2013

  • Rizwan

    Warning that by 2020 the impact of labor reduction "will cause social unrest" and a quest for new economic models in several mature economies. "It's definitely easy to see a dystopian future," said Nick Hansen, senior analyst for Discipline Growth Investors, but he is more optimistic. "The thing I keep coming back to is, there is always something humans want from other humans."

    http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9243138/Gartner_s_dark_vision_for_tech_jobs?pageNumber=1

    1 · October 12, 2013

  • Raymond H.

    in 1940s when the first computer was invented, it spurred exponential growth of calculation automation in a short span of time (30 years) to have mainframe computer handling complex calculation task. To have human intelligence automated (meaning with judgmental and ability to interpret and understanding new concepts), we need 3 key technologies. (1) the ability to automate senses (2) the ability to conceptualize senses (3) able to integrate concepts from senses with our existing knowledge or concepts to form new concepts. Like the invention of our first computer, once the method is found, it can easily proliferate and advance in short span of time (30 to 40 years). Prior to the first computer invention, mankind has spent thousands of years at wits end searching for the method to invent the first computer.

    October 7, 2013

    • Raymond H.

      The same would applies to the 3 key technologies. Currently, we have no clue on how to do it, mainly due to the lack of understanding of how our brain works. Each of these technologies are independent and requires sheer creativity and effort just to achieve the first step of knowing how to feasibly achieving it. Only when techniques for all 3 key areas are established, then, there is a chance for the noble goal of human intelligence automation. That's why, it is not pessimistic, but just being prudent to say that human intelligence automation can only be achieved at least 100 years from now

      October 7, 2013

  • yyt

    My 2 cents below, in 2 parts, 1 cents each, thanks for reading.

    1. Utopia = automation?

    Our image of utopia relied heavily on automation. Automation contrasts with manual effort and implies the ability to act without manual inputs (i.e. machines that act by themselves). But machines are essentially tools, an example being the first rock hammers. Calculators originated as mechanical tools (e.g. abacus), and computers are enhanced calculators (they do a higher form of calculation, such that they compute). But they are man-made tools nonetheless.

    Even the latest "behaviour predicting" technology are man-made algorithms, and work by applying rules on a sea of data. "Smart" as they are, I don't think that anything man-made will be sufficiently intelligent to "out-smart" ourselves necessarily to achieve the level of automation that our utopia requires.

    If so, an utopia where humans' survival needs will be automatically fulfilled by automation does not exist.

    October 6, 2013

    • Jonathan

      Sure, development of these systems and some form of maintenance will likely be required, but it'll likely be limited to a small core group of suppliers to get this done. So in this example, it is not necessary to develop systems to 'out-smart' ourselves, but to just do the stuff we are already good at doing, but better and faster, which our current technology has already achieved.

      October 6, 2013

    • Jonathan

      As for the argument of whether it is possible to create intelligent systems that can outsmart ourselves, we have developed technology today in our computers that can perform calculations many times faster than we can. I would think it is possible similarly to develop technology in the future that can think better than we do. We just have to have better understanding of how our brain functions, so as to be able to simulate the thought processes in software and silicon or whatever material we will be using in the future. We have barely scratched the surface of how our brain really works at this stage, besides the firings of the neurons in its complex network. Thanks for reading my 2c too..!

      1 · October 6, 2013

  • Jennifer Chua Poh N.

    Oh dear, so sorry - can't attend after all. U guessed it - need to work.

    October 3, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    So sorry I have to cancel. Something in my apartment broke down and the repair man can only come on Saturday afternoon. Have a good discussion and I hope to join one of the sessions one day!

    October 3, 2013

  • Quan J.

    I want to ask a question, yet i couldnt find a board to ask, using my mobile. I have always been thinking and yet come up with or receive a satisfying answer to this question, which might be relevant to this event's topic: "what do all men and women seek in life?" What is it that we are truly seeking? This is a burning question i have and i hope someone would hold the answer, that will satisfy me.

    1 · September 28, 2013

    • Quan J.

      So, let me attempt to put it all into words. The things we seek in living is the act of living itself. However, living is vastly different from one individual to another. Is there a way to generalize it? Also, if this is so, the things we seek would be very different from one another? Then, what about the common things like: "Love" and etc? If what we seek is simply "to live", then the majority of us wouldn't bother in seeking to "justify" our lives, by giving ourselves a purpose in life. This reminds me of something, it is true that people do not seek the answer to such things when they are worried about survival, but when life becomes secure, we can't stop ourselves in thinking such questions that are irrelevant to folks who spend their entire time to secure resources to ensure survival. Haha, when put it in that way, it might seem that we have nothing better to do when our stomach are full.

      October 1, 2013

    • Quan J.

      Though, I am not saying it is a bad thing to engross our thoughts in such philosophical issues, as it enriches our lives further. Where would we end up at the end of all this (if there is an end), I wonder? Returning back to your reply: Your answer is a great one, the only issue is that there are a greater number of questions with each answer. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      I have always think: "The greatest answer in the universe is question itself. For only with the question, would the answer forms. And so, the question is the mother of all answers, the greatest of all answers."

      October 1, 2013

  • yyt

    Perhaps an intuition pump handy here will be to imagine, as practically as possible, how a life without work is like.

    September 17, 2013

    • Jairus

      Ah! I see the dilemma of using the term. Although if we can't use terms like employment, or work. What do we call the activities that we would do?

      September 18, 2013

    • yyt

      I think the basic connotation of "work" is "sustenance". It is a channel through which one's labour is traded for one's survival. A life without "work" may differ from one with by merely its outlook.

      September 30, 2013

  • Raymond H.

    We work to provide services or products to others. In return, we get monetary rewards to buy services and products. We enjoy standard of living that we would never be enjoying if we were to live alone, with no support to these services and products. Through these services and products, we can live safely, comfortably, and fend off danger and enemy, we get healthcare, knowledge, and be able to learn and upgrade ourselves, and in return we contribute by working. So the concept of everyone works is indeed beneficial to all of us. Looking at animals who dont work, you will understand why they are on their own, to fight for misfortune and adversity and intrusion and bully. And only the strongest survives.

    September 17, 2013

    • Raymond H.

      Because money is used as a medium for all services and products, the loophole of the concept of work lies in that, (1) we can work on things we are very good at, and enjoying the work (2) we can inherit wealth, such that we need not work to buy services and products (3) we can define what is our basic decent "services and products" such that we can live happily with it, and just earn enough money for it (4) depending on which country you are in, you can live off the welfare system for basic survival and need not to work (5) you need not work if you have saved enough for your basic needs and your commitments (6) you can exploit others to work for you to rake in big bucks.
      To think that technology can automate more than 20% of the products and services we require is still a remote dream, not a realistic assumption, we still need manpower to provide goods and services for the next 100 years at least

      September 17, 2013

  • Mary

    Can this be scheduled in the morning, I have signed up for a hike 1 month ago which coincides with the time(3 pm)?

    September 10, 2013

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

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