Three kinds of work: Necessary, Useful, Optional

AlignAlign Remain CalmForum Moderators, Constellation Join Date: 2002-11-02 Member: 5216Posts: 8,207 mod
edited March 2014 in Discussions
Personal worry that I wanted to get off my chest. Basically...

Necessary work is what you can't live without - the production or transport of food, water, and so on.
Useful work is such that provides opportunities - the production of cars which let you get to opportunities farther away, networks that allow you to find out about them, and such.
Optional work is things like culture, entertainment - good for the mind or soul, but not necessary.

Consider a customer in search for entertainment. He finds a provider, and likes the look of what they've got, but not the price it's being offered at, so he moves on. Again he finds something, but isn't willing to pay for it, so he moves on. This continues, and in the end he doesn't find anything. Oh well - that's not so bad, just leaves him a bit bored.

Now if you substitute entertainment for food in that sequence, there's no "oh well" at the end - he has to buy something, even if he doesn't like the price. That's what markets are based on, buyer and seller both being forced to agree on a price. But it doesn't inherently hold for entertainment...

So what happens once most of the Necessary and Useful work is automated?
Post edited by Align on

Comments

  • TerranigmaTerranigma Members Join Date: 2010-04-03 Member: 71158Posts: 67
    I would disagree that culture, entertainment, etc. is merely optional. You might be able to exist without these but as I'd say that man is a highly social being, living without any sort of culture seems rather harmful in the long way. Water, food and a warm shelter is what keeps your body alive but if that's all that is to live I think your psych will perish quite steadily. Harm that's done to your psych can eventually turn into physical illness; a lot of people suffering from stress of work know exactly what that can mean - psychosomatic illness. Thus I would by no means say that leisure, entertainment, culture, sociality, etc. is merely optional. It's not only a healthy mind in a healthy body but also a healthy body in a healthy mind.

    Then again I'd say the fact that the market are based on buyer and seller agreeing on a price is neither a natural constant nor necessarily good. If you turn products which are essential for reproduction into merchandise which is meant to be sold, then you get to the problem you pointed out. I mean, that what we call market is after all a man-made system to distribute merchandise. Of course it could be turned into something else, i.e. a system which is focused on distributing products to those who need it instead of distributing merchandise to those who can afford it. I mean, we're after all living in a time of high productivity. I cannot understand why goods which are essential to make a living (food, drink, shelter, healthcare, etc.) are meant to be traded as merchandise to those who can pay. Everyone needs access to these products / services whether he can pay it or not. If the market doesn't ensure that, he heeds to be substituted or supplemented by another means of distribution which isn't based on buyer and seller agreeing on a price.

    Once most of the necessary and useful work is automated, one might find even less arguments why we can observe high productivity and consumption going hand in hand with poverty and starvation. You don't have necessarily to take a look to Africa, South America or parts of Asia but even within large economies and wealthy countries you can see a growing number of people who don't benefit at all from economic growth and its fruits; the USA as an obvious example but even within European countries that spend a lot of money into welfare you can see that the overall productivity and wealth is rising while poverty is increasing at the very same time. Thus I think that automation doesn't mean anything at all if the way we distribute the fruits of labor is first of all meant to be sold as merchandise instead of being distributed as product.
  • SquishpokePOOPFACESquishpokePOOPFACE -21,248 posts (ignore below)Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2012-10-31 Member: 165262Posts: 1,669 Advanced user
    Align wrote: »
    Now if you substitute entertainment for food in that sequence, there's no "oh well" at the end - he has to buy something, even if he doesn't like the price.

    Not sure I follow. If price for food is too high, consumers can haggle to an acceptable price. If the seller cannot haggle their price any lower, then consumers will get their food elsewhere (farming, hunting, cheaper seller).

    The price consumers are willing to pay for an item (and the price sellers are willing to sell at) is the correct market value for that item. Otherwise the demand will be satisfied elsewhere.

    To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to play Natural Selection 2. The gameplay is extremely subtle, and without a solid grasp of military strategy and advanced mathematics you won't even win a single game. Theres also the game's nihilistic outlook, which is deftly woven into the game. The maps and artwork draw heavily from Riddley Scott's Alien franchise, for instance. The players understand this stuff, they have the intellectual capacity to truly appreciate the depth of the game, to realise that it's not just great, that it also says something about LIFE. As a consequence people who dislike Natural Selection 2 truly ARE idiots. of course they wouldn't appreciate, for instance, the humour in the Marines' existential catchphrase "how do I get to be so good", which itself is a cryptic reference to the high degree of intelligence required to play the game as intended. I'm smirking right now just imagining one of those addlepated simpletons scratching their heads in confusion when spectating a game. What fools... how I pity them. And, yes, by the way, i DO have a Fade tatoo. And no, you cannot see it. it's for the ladies' eyes only, and even then they have to demonstrate that they are within 50 hive skill points of my own (preferable lower) beforehand. Nothin personnel kid.
  • CCTEECCTEE Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2013-06-20 Member: 185634Posts: 772 Advanced user
    Align wrote: »
    So what happens once most of the Necessary and Useful work is automated?

    Awesome writer Iain M. Banks (r.i.p.) has written alot of books about a society where this is the case.
    Highly recommended if you enjoy sci-fi.

    They stood on a half-constructed starship, on what would eventually be the
    middle of the engines, watching a huge field-unit swing through the air, out
    of the engineering space behind the bay proper and up towards the skeletal
    body of the General Contact Unit. Little lifter tugs manoeuvred the field unit
    down towards them.


    (...)

    They walked across the black expanse of thoroughly featureless material
    ('Ah,' the woman had said, when he'd mentioned this, 'you take a look at it
    under a microscope; it's beautiful! What did you expect, anyway? Cranks?
    Gears? Tanks full of chemicals?')

    'Can't machines build these faster?' he asked the woman, looking around
    the starship shell.

    'Why, of course!' she laughed.
    'Then why do you do it?'
    'It's fun. You see one of these big mothers sail out those doors for the first
    time, heading for deep space, three hundred people on board, everything
    working, the Mind quite happy, and you think; I helped build that. The fact
    a machine could have done it faster doesn't alter the fact that it was you who
    actually did it.'

    'Hmm,' he said.

    'Well, you may "hmm" as you wish,' the woman said, approaching a
    translucent hologram of the half-completed ship, where a few other
    construction workers were standing, pointing inside the model and talking.
    'But have you ever been gliding, or swum underwater?'

    'Yes,' he agreed.

    The woman shrugged. 'Yet birds fly better than we do, and fish swim better.
    Do we stop gliding or swimming because of this?'

    He smiled. 'I suppose not.'

    'You suppose correctly,' the woman said. 'And why?' she looked at him,
    grinning. 'Because it's fun.' She looked at the holo model of the ship to one
    side. One of the other workers called to her, pointing at something in the
    model. She looked at him. 'Excuse me, will you?'

    He nodded, as he backed off. 'Build well.'
    'Thank you. I trust we shall.'
    'Oh,' he asked. 'What's this ship to be called?'

    'Its Mind wishes it to be called the Sweet and Full of Grace,' the woman
    laughed. Then she was deep in discussion with the others.


    USE OF WEAPONS
    IAIN M. BANKS
    Published: 1990. ISBN: 1 85723 135 X
    grrrr im beast
  • AlignAlign Remain Calm Forum Moderators, Constellation Join Date: 2002-11-02 Member: 5216Posts: 8,207 mod
    edited March 2014
    Squishpoke wrote: »
    Not sure I follow. If price for food is too high, consumers can haggle to an acceptable price. If the seller cannot haggle their price any lower, then consumers will get their food elsewhere (farming, hunting, cheaper seller).

    The price consumers are willing to pay for an item (and the price sellers are willing to sell at) is the correct market value for that item. Otherwise the demand will be satisfied elsewhere.
    Right - the idea was that the seller has some degree of influence over the buyer, if the buyer needs the good, whereas for less critical goods the buyer has all the power.
  • HamletHamlet Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2008-08-17 Member: 64837Posts: 373 Advanced user
    edited March 2014
    Automation sounds splendid and wouldn't change anything about the current economic model where only a tiny group profits from the ever-growing surplus while the rest can wither and die for all they care.
    Hell, we already have ever-increasing automation in all economic sectors since the introduction of the computer and the internet to the workplace.
    Funnily the wage levels are practically frozen and although a worker is so much more productive than his/her counterpart from the 1960ies, they even work longer hours and receive even less benefits like paid vacation or health care than they would have in the 60ies.
    Who decides what happens with those automation profits?
    Do workers have to work less? Nope.
    Do they maybe receive higher wages? Nope.
    Well, where does all this "automation efficiency gain money" end up?

    Start at 1:28:41
    http://youtu.be/xF2g26mTV7w

    Having understood how capitalism works, 100% automation wouldn't change a thing compared to what we have today.
    It would only turn the growing inequality gap into an insurmountable canyon.
    Post edited by Hamlet on
  • CCTEECCTEE Members, Reinforced - Shadow Join Date: 2013-06-20 Member: 185634Posts: 772 Advanced user
    My god @hamlet, and i was worried my wall of text might be a little to long for the attention span of these forums lol.
    I get working on it, no skipping here!
    grrrr im beast
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