Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What Will We Do When There Are No Jobs At All?

Games, Games, Games

Sci-Fi can tackle the humongousest of topics. Today, we are seeing the early phases of an employment sea change. "Jobs" as they have evolved from man-pulled plows and sweating forge workers to coders and designers, are beginning to be assumed by our creations. AI and all its progeny will do the work, thank you. Even art and intuitive invention will be done for us, perhaps better than we can do it, a potentially discouraging state of things.

So how will humanity deal with this? We will be unshackled in a sense. So we must move to a different reality.  Below is how this problem is addressed in A Reluctant God. One of many possible futures.

Here we discover how odd humans can get. In my day if you had no job you were thought worthless. A great many were, but they thought differently and worked to remedy the situation. In this future where I now unwillingly reside, the unemployed just go to sleep.

H.L Mencken, A.P.

Cultural Impact of The Dream Game
SociologyFet Marcus Singulus

Over 99 percent of humanity spent most of their lives in the Dream Game. Their bodies were maintained at reasonable fitness levels in their sleep pods, heads resting in induction webs. When a person died in his pod, the Dream Universe took note of his passing. Or hers. Their friends and acquaintances, typically all developed within the Game, held memorials appropriate to the deceased's status. Sometime exceptionally vivid copies were recreated as Dream Artificial Personalities (APs) in tribute.

Fertile females left the Game for several days to give birth. The centuries of pressed procreation to populate the earth and the expanding empire had faded, but some new blood was needed to replace the passing. Infants were raised by exquisitely designed mamabots that nourished their charges with cloned breast milk from the natural mothers. Almost all of the education and socialization of the children happened in the Game.

The unavoidable statistic about the population was almost ninety-eight percent of all common citizens spent at least twenty-three standard hours out of every twenty-four sleeping, fully engaged in the planet-wide Games.

Sleep had been eliminated as a necessity in the sixth century PA. That ancient inheritance from the diurnal crucible of evolution had served purposes from organizing the mind, to embedding memories to renewing libido and defining neuroses, to cleaning protein debris. Then, as the brain was more fully understood it was found that the same benefits could be derived from cleverly designed neurochemicals dispensed from embedded biochips plus programming from embedded nano computers. 

Still, vast majorities of people chose sleep because as the mysteries of sleep were being solved, there were parallel advances in personal dream control. Dreaming became the superior form of virtual reality. VR, in all its verisimilitude, lacked the direct connection to the primitive brain that dreams have. Dreams to the practiced dreamer were more vivid, more real than reality. Early in life, all citizens of the Empire became expert dreamers. Above all there were the shared dreams, the Dream Game.

It was this multi-dreamer game that changed the world. It was a godsend to the emerging populations on the Empire planets because there was very little work to be done after each planet was tamed. Artificial intelligence machinery did all the work from manufacturing to distribution to construction to engineering design. Without the Dream Game, citizens would have drifted in self destructive whirlpools of frustration. But the dream universes were conceived by the most creative humans, and one and all were invited to occupy them.

These dream universes had rules and values, economies and careers, opportunities for entrepreneurs and for criminals, for saints and sadists, for scientists and sensualists, lots of warriors, artists and dilettantes. There were cliques to be formed, hierarchies to be scaled, power to be acquired, fortunes to amass. To a far greater degree than existed in the undemanding reality of most lives, these dream universes were real. The Dream Game was a game in name only. To most of the population it was the more real reality.

Just as the Fets were being developed to do more and more of the hands-on mind work in the Empire of Earth, the multi-player Dream Game was how a no-work population remained occupied. And very productive in ways not fully understood until the war with Satan.
- - - - - -

   When I read the tech news today, it seems we are closer and closer to this. Those "novelists" that design today's games are as creative as any writers of fiction ever.
Update (of the 'it's already happening' kind)

Alien Discoveries

What Might We Find In This Galaxy?
(When we have faster-than-light ships)

Now that the Kepler Observatory is finding planets by the thousands (and it has barely touched the sky) it's almost certain that civilizations great and small have occupied some of them off and on for billions of years. In A Reluctant God we find the leftovers of an advanced civilization, and boy are they impressive. When there are billions of civilizations scattered over vast space, and - more importantly - over vast time, pretty much anything is possible. 

Here's an excerpt describing one find. Our hero, Bobby the PsychFet, describes it to the Empire of Earth and its allies. The "Watchers" FYI are nanobots whizzing around the Milky Way in FTL pods in a huge search for bad guys. They have found an abandoned planet and staggering technical remnants.

- - - Page 222- - - -

The point-of-view zoomed to a large moon orbiting the gas giant. It was about the size of Mars and was an odd, metallic color. As the POV zoomed it became clear that it was almost covered with an urban rind – an ancient planetary city of roofs, mostly deteriorated by the billion years of space debris that had pummeled it after its atmosphere had escaped.

“This was the home planet of the locals. The gas giant was much of their sky at all times. The red dwarf rose from and sank into the giant. The washes of deadly radiation and particles from all the stellar activity around was somewhat shielded by the gas giant’s magnetic field and its bulk itself, but it was still challenging for the residents, so they built the endless fields of shielding roofs we see in such disrepair now. When their technology reached the right point, they began planning their escape from this place. To build the fleets they needed to move their whole population – which The Watchers are estimating to be in the billions – they created these astounding factories, general foundries actually, capable of being programmed to build essentially anything. That’s why The Watchers have named this place Ultimate Factory. The population – they must have been incredible engineers – built interstellar passenger and cargo ships by the hundreds of thousands and ferried themselves away. When the last creature left, it turned off the lights, but left the foundries intact and we believe fully functional. Sort of a gift to the gods in gratitude for their successful migration.

“All we have to do is learn how to make them run. The foundries get all the raw materials needed to build – anything at all really – directly from the gas giant. The engineers on Nexus have already activated one of the harvester machines ‘way down in the gas giant and it is sending kilotons of pure elements to several of the orbiting foundries as we watch.”

Excitement was bubbling under the surface of the audience Bobby was narrating to.

“Keep it in your pants, people,” said Belushi.

Bobby continued, “We’ll tour one of the orbiting foundries, then we will reorganize into teams to develop action plans. By the way, this history is as told by the hundreds of immutable plaques left all around the mother planet in several languages. It took our interpretive programs almost no time to decipher them. It’s clear they were meant to be found and read by visitors. Linguistically brilliant, actually. And the foundries were clearly meant to be used.”

With that, the POV dove toward one of the extravagant foundries. “For perspective, the foundries are all basically identical. Nearly twenty kilometers on a side, slightly trapezoidal, made of several very exotic molecular materials and held together mostly with attraction and stasis fields.” The exterior was a gigantic mesh woven of golden, green and silver materials. “These structural materials are pristine. The whole of each foundry is protected by very subtle fields that selectively filter out any particle or radiation that might degrade them. We are in the process of trying to understand the field generators. If there are not discoveries here that we can use against Satan, I’ll be very surprised,” said Bobby.

“A group of twenty-three APs on Nexus, all one-time entrepreneurs in a mythic place called Silicon Valley in Christian Era history and known for some reason as 'hackers,' came up with the programming code that turned on the foundries.”

After the presentation Bobby said privately to Feynman, “We must find these people. Powerful allies they would be.”

“If they are still around, Master Yoda,” muttered Feynman.

Plans were downloaded into the foundries. Within days, fleets of new FTL heavy weapons were being churned out from the Ultimate Factories at a stunning rate. The manufacturing quality was flawless.
- - - - - - - - - 

POV = Point of view (of course)
Belushi and Feynman are "APs," artificial personalities - there are a lot of them in the book. 
Nexus = Giant, alien-built water planet, home of several Earth Empire allies.