What really pisses me off is when the Resource Based Economy crowd regurgitates Jacque Fresco’s statements word for word as if they’re their own thoughts, without really thinking it through. Worst of all, people follow these ideals while ignoring another of Jacque’s assertions: “Be critical of everything – even my ideas“.(*paraphrased) This is not a new phenomenon of course, I’ll bet Jesus is still banging his head over how people completely missed his point.
One concept that I hear time and time again is how “Machines will arrive at the decisions for us” as if Artificial Intelligence is a magical god that will solve all our problems. As a software developer, I’m intrigued by the details of this – and I really think people are just saying this without thinking it through.
AI still needs to be programmed, and how it is programmed will be first done by humans, based on human values and standards.Even when machines begin to program themselves, they will still have to base their decisions on something, and that something will depend on a lot of criteria, for example the machines will be influenced by their environment much as we are. They may also continue to base their decisions on the original values that we programmed into them – or they could completely reject these values – which could be devastating for us!
Maybe RBE advocates feel reassured that the machines will be programmed according to their own ideals of sharing and caring. This is an unfounded assumption. How the machines are programmed is not set in stone – it is us who will need to decide how decisions are arrived at. This is far more complex than just saying that decisions will be based on quantity or usage of resources and I don’t think enough people are thinking about this. There are no constants involved when dealing with many aspects of human behaviour.
Decision making processes could for example be based on a balance of cooperation and individualism, if that is possible. One would hope that the decision making process would avoid all forms of stratification, but even this may not be completely possible – if just for logistical reasons. For example, people in a certain area might not be able to get access to a certain resource because it could cost too much of another resource – or create other problems – to transport it.
So, any global governance system, no matter how many resource monitoring computers it involves, or how advanced their resource allocation algorithms are, will still need to be a democracy of sorts. People’s values, desires, beliefs, morals, feelings, and influences are still going to have an impact on the decision making process. Despite what TVP/TZM/RBE fans say about ‘nature being a dictatorship’ – it’s not as simple as that. There are many decisions that are not as black and white as this phrase would have people believe.
However – this doesn’t mean that developing a global decision making engine is impossible. It just means that we have to work out how we are going to manage the vast array of influential criteria.
It will probably never be perfect – most likely evolving over time. It’s possible that the decisions would be driven by at least some level of direct democracy. By this I don’t mean that people would necessarily have a say over every decision made, but more that over time they would help to shape the decision making processes. But again, how much influence the people would have over the main algorithm would itself be another factor to consider when building the system.
To create a decision making process that would allocate the world’s resources is a monumentally complex task. It may be possible, but the first step is to analyse the decision-making criteria. This alone would be a tremendous undertaking. So much would need to be taken into account and above all, several prioritisation standards would need to be set. It’s these prioritisation standards that we need to be thinking about – because a machine is not going to do this for us; indeed, we wouldn’t want it to.
So instead of going around saying that “Machines are going to make all the decisions for us”, I strongly suggest that advocates of a Resource Based Economy think long and hard about the details and exactly how the machines will make these decisions.