Think About a World Where the Rich are Immortal
The big consolation of the poor throughout history was that okay, these rich people, they have it good, but they’re going to die just like me. But think about the world, say, in 50 years, 100 years, where the poor people continue to die, but the rich people, in addition to all the other things they get, also get an exemption from death. That’s going to bring a lot of anger. __
If the rich are immortal and everyone else must die, that is a distinctly higher level of inequality than anything we have now. The working tools for significant life extension — and perhaps immortality of a sort — are coming in a matter of decades. But they are unlikely to be cheap, not at first anyway.
Some will be able to pay for longer life, but most may not. Especially in the “class of superfluous humans” who lack the ability to provide a useful service.
By 2050, a useless class might emerge, the result not only of a shortage of jobs or a lack of relevant education but also of insufficient mental stamina to continue learning new skills. __
This class of superfluous humans will either offer themselves as slaves — in an effort to feel useful — or just as likely will live on the dole, taking drugs and living in a virtual reality environment for most of the time.
Slaves would do particularly dangerous work not suitable for robots, or would provide various types of entertainments for the immortals and their supporting class of technicals who do useful and technically demanding work that robots and AI’s are not yet able to perform.
Splitting humanity into biological castes of the upgraded and the not will destroy the assumption of equality that is a cornerstone of liberal humanism. The elites are likely to maintain a continued advantage over others, always staying a few steps ahead. __
The ability to stay far enough ahead of the herd to receive the latest enhancements — approaching that much closer to true immortality and “godhood” — will maintain the class distinction between castes.
“Immortals” live longest and receive the best services, “Technicals” work hand in hand with robots and AI’s, and the “Superfluous” either live sequestered in reservations, or volunteer to serve as “slaves or gladiators etc.” at the pleasure of higher castes.
You May Think That No One Would Volunteer as a Slave
Since we have not reached the stage of well-simulated virtual reality and advanced psychoactive drug stacks, we cannot say how long it would take an average “superfluous” person to tire of such an existence. But I imagine that the maintenance of the VR pods for superfluous zones and the quality of the drug stacks for low-caste populations, would not be of highest priority. Violence and predation would not be unknown in the sequestration zones. And most importantly, incentives to escape the “zones” may offer escape from the worst low-caste predators, and provide higher quality VR and drug stacks. For the particularly gifted low-caste it might even provide a chance for permanent escape from the low-caste zones.
These are Thought Experiments Based on Uncertain Assumptions
We know that new robotic and AI technologies are acquiring the capacity to replace more and more types of human work with machine labour. Many of the newer jobs being created will require high levels of human cognitive adaptability and agility. Even if as many new jobs are created as are taken away by robots and AI’s, many of the humans who are displaced will not necessarily be able to perform in the new category of jobs. Over time many displaced workers will likely become superfluous to the workforce. This likelihood should be built into the social planning for the brave new world to come.
Another Class Will Exist: The Wild Humans
Writers such as Yuval Noah Harari seem to always assume that every human and every human society will be tameable. That would not be a good thing for the species, since the wild strain adapting under conditions of natural selection will always provide a safety buffer against the result of lethal memes and out of control civilisation.
Just as in Huxley’s “Brave New World,” zones will always exist where people live by their own wits pitted against the environment. There is even a trace of this idea in Orwell’s “1984” dividing the rules for “proles” from rules for different classes of party members. Proles were relatively free to come and go and think what they want, but live in poverty and die relatively young.
Future “wild humans” may coopt new portable infrastructure technologies, so that free communities could prosper at the edge of developed civilisation — or even further out. Just be sure to avoid the private estates, agricultural zones, and hunting grounds of the immortals.
Something wonderful — and something wicked — is coming this way. Make provisions once you have thought it through.
It is never too late for a Dangerous Childhood © .