I worked in startups and small companies for much of my career. In recent years, I've become increasingly concerned about how accelerating automation threatens to displace multitudes of workers. In my view, providing income AND meaning for these people is the greatest unmet need of our time.

From 2004 - 2008, I edited an international investment advisory about bleeding edge tech companies. I was exposed to a wide swath of technologies that are evolving and converging to transform the world. While most have the potential to do enormous good, they are also highly disruptive.

Many believe that accelerating automation will create more jobs than it destroys, as has happened before. However, for the first time, AIs and the robots they control are now learning the same way as do people: through observation, trial, error, and correction. This means that while new jobs will appear, there's a real risk that machines will learn them faster than people, then do them more reliably and cheaper.

The easiest and fastest way for management to improve profitability is to cut costs. Therefore, when cost/benefit analysis finds that a machine is cheaper than a person (including capital equipment v. training, maintenance v. healthcare, salary and benefits, etc.), they will jettison these "human resources".

Others, who agree with me about the threat, believe that a guaranteed income (UBI) will solve the problem. I have argued that conventional approaches won't suffice. (http://bit.ly/2tVqUAK). However, an ally has now developed a new approach that addresses those concerns. (http://bit.ly/2DV3Dkd).

But even a viable UBI leaves important deficiencies; notably meaning and sense of community.

For these reasons, we are proposing a new, systemic solution. It applies Silicon Valley's principles of industrial disruption on the level of society. It can be developed, debugged and refined as an online simulation. Then, it can be piloted in one small area. Private citizens can lead this project. A new model society can thus be created, using capitalist principles to evolve beyond capitalism into a new system.

All of the existing "isms" are rooted in scarcity thinking. For the first time in history, we have the technologies to create a society rooted in systems of sustainable abundance.

While we cannot eliminate the darker aspects of human nature, such a society will constantly nudge its residents in positive directions, while compelling only those behaviors which are necessary for adherence to its consensually derived Charter. Further, by embracing the adoption of best practices from all sources, and using the scientific method of experimentation to discover improvements not yet known, it will approach ever more closely, while never attaining, the perfection which utopias promise in an illusory manner.

Medium member since April 2021


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Jonathan Kolber

Jonathan Kolber


I think about how to create societies of sustainable, technological abundance. My book, A Celebration Society, offers one solution. It has been well received.