digging ditches: the ultimate human achievement?

How many Potential Einsteins, Hawkings, or Nabokovs or Woolfs or Monets or O’Keeffes are out there stuck digging ditches or scrubbing floors in order to survive? How much art and literature and scientific discoveries are the rest of us missing out on in favor of that floor being cleaned by a person rather than a machine?

We have the means to eliminate huge swaths of labor via robotics and AI. But with the current structure of our society focused so hard on earning money via labor, the elimination of those jobs would harm people rather than help them. But it doesn’t need to be this way.

Imagine you and your family live in a big house, and the only thing required of you to live there is to keep it clean and repaired. You wash the windows, wax the floors, fix any electronic problems, repaint the walls, vacuum, dust, sweep, mop, etc, and in exchange for all this work, you can live in some rooms in the house.

Now imagine you and your family invent a robot that can do all this cleaning for you. Cool! Now all the required labor is being done, and you can relax and use your time for other more meaningful, human activities.

Except that’s not what would happen in our society. The member of the family that just happened to have his name on the deed of the house would buy their own robot, and kick everyone else onto the streets and have their big empty house with no one living in it. Then they’d take the money they save from not having to feed so many people, and buy another house, also with no one to live in it except the robot that cleans it.

Our society is that family. We, most of the members of that family, work hard to keep the infrastructure running, to keep things clean and functional. We, the family that is our society, are also on the verge of inventing a tool to do all this work for us, to keep up the maintenance for us. But instead of celebrating this, we’re worried. All because our rich uncle feels we have to be working on the house in order to live in it.

When the robot workforce comes–and it will–huge numbers of people will be functionally forced out of society because there are no more floors to scrub. If we want to avoid this, we need to change the way we think about work and money.

We need socialism if we are going to survive our own technology. We need to change the mindset toward labor as a means of survival, and instead look at it as crude necessity that we are about to eliminate. We should enjoy the results of that elimination, not punish ourselves for it.

Advertisements

Not writing is depressing

Fingers gotta type words, and mine haven’t been.

My blog has been stagnating, oops! And I’m wondering if this is having an effect on my current project not moving forward. My gears are rusting perhaps…

I find that whenever I go too long without making progress on whatever I’m writing, I get really down. I feel the world is terrible and life is a crock and everything is pointless. Then I break through whatever wall I was stuck at and suddenly everything is great again… so transparent, but somehow I can never see it in the moment and realize ‘hey, I’m not feeling good. I must really need to write something…’

Type the words, Jonas, type the words!

 

Story number 4: JUPITER

I’ve completed story number 4 out of 6 for my resolution goal this year, and number 2 out of 7 for my planned collection of stories: The Planets.

This one was a real pain, and I had a hard time finding the spirit. But it came out okay in the end! Even though it went in a different direction than I’d planned.

It’s more personal proof that the ‘idea’ of the story is only one of many ingredients. It’s the seed that grows into who knows what. The end result might not have any evidence of what the seed looked like… let the story go where it wants, and don’t try to force it in your original direction!

 

Little islands of life

I like to take breaks at work to walk around and think, but it was raining so I walked around in the parking garage. With springtime arriving, the spiders are out in force, and I noticed that nearly every overhead light I walked under was surrounded and covered in spiderwebs, with multiple spiders clearly visible–a few I even saw in the process of building. These were not dead webs piled up over time, but new arrivals, and all of them centered on light sources that would draw insects into those webs.

How could these spiders know to build their webs around the lights? Light sources other than the sun like that are a new invention that the spiders could not have yet adapted to…

But of course, it’s not the light attracting the spiders. Instead it’s the same thing that draws them into your house in the winter: the heat.  Each light fixture is a hospitable planet in the cold emptiness of space.

Temperature differences are often a focal point of life. Life on earth is thought to have started at thermal vents in the deep ocean, those cracks of heat in the icy depths…

I wonder, if life capable of interstellar travel exists in the universe, whether it would even bother dealing with planets. Would they not go straight for the greatest temperature difference of all, that of stars and space? Maybe the alien life we’re looking for is orbiting our sun, and soaking up endless energy, instead of bothering with little, cold, rocky us.

 

 

 

If on a winter’s night a traveler, by Italo Calvino

Maybe you’ve been watching my videos on this book, or maybe not! I have gotten tired of making them. I think writing is more my style than talking. But this book is definitely my style, and is one of the best things I’ve read, ever! I think it might be in my top 10 favorite books ever.

Why do we write? What is story? Why do we read? What are we after in each story as a reader or as a writer? All of these questions are a focus in this book.

This is a book made of beginnings, and interruptions. In short, it is a series of shorts that are framed as various books that you, the reader, keep getting interrupted from reading. But really it is a question about what makes a story a story. Does a story need to have an end?

Every page of this book was gold and I wanted to highlight all of it. I bought the kindle version even though I was listening to it, so I could do just that.

Read it if you have an interest in strange story structure, prose over plot, or just like things that make you think!

Mirrors, everywhere

Strange writing styles

I’ve started reading ‘Out’ by Christine Brooke-Rose. This one is described as an ‘experimental’ novel, and it certainly reads that way. The writing style is very strange so far, with repetitive descriptions of the surrounding environment, with characters left in a sort of confusing fog. I’m finding it very interesting, and enjoying how I have to sort of think and puzzle out what the heck is going on.

The focus often falls on the very small, while things that are probably important are ignored by the character. In the opening for example, he watches two flies ‘making love’ on his knee, while people are talking around him. Later he’s watching a square of light on the table, or thinking about how the way people are standing form different chemical bonds with their feet.

Some of it is so beautiful, and I feel that the writing is more important than the story for me these days, so I’m liking it a lot so far.

Ideas on how I want to write a future story are appearing…