Tag Archives: Universal Basic Income

What Will The Currency Of The Future Be?

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Most people don’t think about what gives their money value. There’s just a general understanding that it’s vital for basic economic activity. Whether it involves simple bartering or complex cryptocurrencies, the assumptions are the same. Money is a measure of value and exchanging it is how we ascribe value to basic goods and services.

There are all sorts of economic and financial complexities that determine how money works. Rather than bemoan the issue, knowing I am not the least bit qualified to do so, I’d like to focus on the nature of money in the future. Having already given plenty of thought to advanced artificial intelligence, human enhancement, and intimacy, I think it makes sense to contemplate how it all affects our ideas about money.

By that, I’m not referring to current trends in digital currency and older trends within modern banking systems. I’m talking about what money will be in a future where people, resources, and our entire understanding of economics has rendered the existing system obsolete. If you don’t think that’ll ever happen, then I only request that you give some added scrutiny to the concept of money.

I often find myself scrutinizing it whenever I watch a bit too much sci-fi. Some of my favorite sci-fi movies and TV shows of all time don’t give much thought to money. In “Back To The Future II,” a world of flying cars and cheap fusion power still had money. Things were just exceedingly expensive due to inflation. A Pepsi cost around $50.

While inflation is a real force that was certainly present in the non-movie version 2015, it’s somewhat strange that it would get that excessive in a world where fusion power plants could fit into cars made in the mid-1980s. In the real world, advanced technology tends to counter inflation. Logistically, better technology means more efficiency. More efficiency means cheaper goods. Cheaper goods mean lower prices.

We can certainly forgive movies like “Back To The Future II” for failing to understand the economics of money. In addition, the technology of that world wasn’t so advanced that it undercut the foundations of society. However, the money systems in galaxy-spanning space operas can’t make those excuses.

Star Wars” still used some form of currency. It was necessary for Han Solo to pay his debts and for Luke to enlist his services to Alderaan. Other space-faring epics like “Mass Effect” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” have a form of currency that allows characters to be greedy and ruthless. Whether they’re called credits or units, the principles are the same.

There’s this vague concept of money. Everyone agrees that it has value, but there’s little information about why it has value. That’s not entirely flawed. It’s just no different than traditional fiat money, which nearly every modern society utilizes to some extent in the real world. The money isn’t backed by anything. People just collectively agree it’s worth what it says its worth.

Now, I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists who claim this form of money is part of a global conspiracy theory run by lizard people who may or may not have murdered John F. Kennedy. I don’t know enough about economics or finance to make sense of our current monetary system. All I know is that we have a system of money that works within the constraints of our current society.

Whatever you think of that system, there’s still a larger question worth asking. What will money look like in the future when some of those constraints disappear? To some extent, our current system requires that people be frail, products be flawed, and resources be scarce. Through certain advances, some of which may occur in the next 50 years, those limits may disappear.

What happens to money when we perfect advanced energy generation that makes electricity cheap, abundant, and clean?

What happens to money when people begin upgrading their bodies with advanced biotechnology and cybernetic implants?

What happens to money when nanotechnology advances to a point where the production and assembly of every conceivable good is dirt cheap?

What happens to money when advanced artificial intelligence gets to a point where it gets so intelligent that it can solve every conceivable problem and manage every conceivable issue perfectly?

What happens to money when our civilization gets to a point where we can just upload our minds into a perfect simulation where all our wants and needs are met on a whim? Regardless of whether you think we’re already in a simulation, the question surrounding money and what form it takes remains.

While it’s impossible to predict the cumulative impact of technology, especially the kind that subverts modern economic forces, I believe there will be some sort of currency in the future. Even if we perfect nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and teleportation, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that we’ll need some system for exchanging goods, services, and overall value.

I also don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that our current fiat money would work. Just putting images on paper and using it as a token may not be practical in a society of advanced AI and immortal humans. These days, most of our money exists only as code in a computer and not as piles of paper or gold. I think for any form of money to work in a society of such technology, it needs to be backed by something.

Some sci-fi stories explore that concept. The movie, “In Time,” wasn’t that good, but the idea was intriguing. In that world, everybody is immortal and never ages past 25, but the system is such that the currency is measured in time. In a sense, a dollar is backed by a year of life as a healthy 25-year-old. For most people, that has plenty of value.

The rest of the movie is awful and I don’t recommend it, but it presents a novel, albeit dystopian concept. For that economic system to work, there has to be some sort of tyrannical power structure that has the ability to snuff someone’s life out the second they can’t pay. Even corrupt insurance companies aren’t that bad.

Then, there’s the Netflix series, “Altered Carbon,” which I highly recommend. That world also has a problem with massive wealth disparity, but not in the sense that rich people horde money in giant vaults. In this world, technology has advanced to the point where people can transfer their consciousness to different bodies the same way most people transfer files between computers.

In that world, the most precious assets are the best bodies. Being able to live in the body of Brad Pitt is inherently more valuable than living in the body of Danny DeVito. Much of society, from prisoners to billionaires, is divided by who has access to those bodies. In the story, the super-rich Bancroft family have that access and that’s what makes them so rich.

That kind of wealth may not show up as numbers on a balance sheet, but the value is there. Being able to produce, inhabit, and live within strong, beautiful bodies provides a powerful basis for any currency. Talk to anyone who has dealt with the effects of aging, which is pretty much everyone over the age of 25. Most would gladly pay a premium to live in a stronger, fitter body.

While “Altered Carbon” doesn’t get into the specifics of that system, the principle holds true. In a future where people aren’t bound by the limitations of biology or the human body, the greatest asset they can possess is a medium with which to experience life. A better medium means better experiences. Some companies today are already seeking to provide those experiences. Technology will simply change the methods.

Whether we end up in a simulated utopia or not, the experiences a currency affords us is what will give it value. Even though worlds like that of “Star Trek” present a world where money doesn’t exist, there is still plenty of value ascribed to life experiences. You may not be able to print that on a piece of paper or send that in a wire transfer, but that is still recognized as valuable.

I could still be wrong. Remember, I’m not an expert in money, nor can I predict the trends that future advances in technology will incur. Whatever form it takes, though, I expect that the overall goal will still be the same. We use money to pursue better, more rewarding life experiences. However we go about pursuing is, and always has been to some extent, the only true universal currency.

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A (Partially) Sexy Thought Experiment: Work Vs. Life

Here’s a question I’m sure everybody has asked themselves at some point in their lives, probably during a long day at work or during mid-terms at school. What if we didn’t have to work? What if our jobs was not critical to our survival?

That’s actually a question a lucky few don’t even have to answer because they live it. The trust fund babies of the rich elites, some of which go onto be the rich, arrogant shits on Instagram, already know that luxury. To them, it’s their perverse concept of normal. The idea of working to survive might as well be alien as having to cook their own meals. It just doesn’t resonate with them.

It’s because there are so few rich, arrogant fucks like that in this world that we can’t answer the question completely. Sure, we all fantasize about how we would live if we won the lottery. I sure have. That’s why I didn’t ask what you would do if you didn’t have to work. I asked what we would do so that means no elaborate fantasies about quitting your job.

By we, I mean us as a society. I mean us as a functioning, lawful, economically viable society and not some liberal utopia that exists only in Bernie Sanders’ dreams. I ask this question because I’ve been talking a lot about poverty recently. I’ve also talked about potential solutions, including the still-radical notion of a universal basic income. Now, I’d like to turn off the cold, harsh reality of politics and facts so we’re free to speculate.

I’m an erotica/romance writer so contemplating fantasies is easy for me. I kind of have to be good at it to write the stuff I write. That often means twisting and stretching my imagination in ways that even a team of Russian gymnast porn stars can’t match.

Every so often, I do try to think in extremes, like radical redesigns of the human body. Other times, I try to think of something a bit more feasible, like entirely eliminating all sexually transmitted diseases.

This experiment falls somewhere in the middle. It hasn’t been tried yet, but there are some places in the world that are conducting active experiments. The results of those experiments are a long ways off and it may be decades before a country has the balls to try it. Even so, like driverless cars and VR porn, it is conceivable that this will happen within my lifetime.

With that in mind, I want to create a scenario for people to imagine. It’s a scenario I think applies equally to men and women alike. The year is 2065. Society has progressed to a point where machines and AIs do pretty much all the work that humans used to do. This is an ongoing trend and one that will likely accelerate.

As a result, basic things like food, water, shelter, and utilities are pretty much free. No intensive labor is needed. To ensure that everyone has the means to live, every adult over the age of 18, although that age could be fluctuate depending on certain conditions, receives a regular basic income that’s today’s equivalent of $52,000 a year, which is the median income in 2013 for the United States.

Without getting into specifics about how the nuts and bolts of this system would operate, let’s just assume for the sake of the experiment that people receive this money the same way the elderly receive social security checks today. They can do with it what they please. They can still work. They can just sit home all day, smoke weed, and watch Netflix if they want. They have that freedom.

What would this do for our collective lives? What if working and surviving were no longer the same thing? This isn’t just a luxury for a bunch of rich fucks on instagram. This is an entire society where nobody has to worry about their next meal, their next rent check, or their utilities bill.

For some people, sitting at home all day, smoking weed and watching Netflix, is the first thing that comes to mind. However, not everybody is wired to do that and only that every day until they die.

People are diverse, eccentric, and erratic. They have all sorts of varying tastes, motivations, and aspirations. Many are stifled because they have to spend a good chunk of their time and energy working just to survive. How many more people would be inclined to pursue different passions if they didn’t have to work?

For someone like me, that passion involves writing erotica/romance. I know if I didn’t have to work, I would certainly spend more time writing more books. I may even find time to write about things I’ve never even contemplated. Not having to worry about money, food, or poor wi-fi would free me up to pursue entirely new ideas.

Beyond the lonely erotica/romance writers of the world, that extra time and energy could translate into more time focusing on family affairs. Parents could spend more time with their children. They would even have time to raise more children. As I’ve stated before, the birth-rate tends to decline when the economy tanks. Would a world like this lead to a never-ending baby boom?

How many families fall apart because the parents are too stressed to hold it together? How many children turn into assholes because their parents don’t have time to love them? How many families never even get started because the stress of work keeps them from having sex?

This is where the thought experiment takes on its sexier connotations. In this world, we don’t have to spend as much time worrying about work, money, or making the next rent payment. We actually have time to get out there, meet people, and form new social connections. Yes, some of these social connections would result in more sex.

Given the decline in sexual activity among millennials, who often enter a lousy job market with thousands of dollars in student debt, I can’t think of anything that would boost more libidos. When you’re less stressed and have more time, you can devote more energy into pursuing the relationships you want, sexual or otherwise.

Now for some uptight religious types, this is downright horrifying. There’s a reason why institutions like the Catholic Church and various protestant denominations revere the whole “protestant work ethic.” The impotent old men who run these institutions know that if young, sexy people are too busy working, they won’t be able to engage in large levels of fun and fornication. If they don’t know, it’s indirectly implied.

Maybe that ethic applied for an era where it took hundreds of people to farm land and hundreds more to protect that land from bandits, but in a future where technology and automation deliver our essentials, it’s kind of outdated. Like sacrificing a goat to ensure the rains come, it doesn’t need to be part of society anymore.

Being the optimist I am, I believe that a future like this will be a lot sexier than what we have now. I concede there will be those who use exploit this world and become fat, lazy slobs that would disgust Homer Simpson. However, I believe that the vast majority of people would use this world to forge new intimate connections.

Some of those connections will be simple fan clubs. Maybe more people will get together to share their fondness of baking dildo-shaped pottery. Who knows what gets certain people excited? Sure, some of those connections will lead to more sex, some of it of a kinky variety that will make every Catholic priest and mullah alive today faint in horror. I still think that, overall, it would be a net gain for the human race.

These are still the ramblings of an optimist who’s trying to make a living writing erotica/romance novels. This experiment may play out very differently in the minds of others, depending on how cynical they are about human nature or how many Nirvana songs they’ve listened to.

Whatever your outlook, I encourage you to do this experiment. I encourage you to contemplate a society where nobody has to work to meet their basic needs. What kind of society would it be? What kind of person would you be in that society? It’s an intriguing thought and, like so many of the others on this blog, one that has a lot of sex appeal.

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How Poverty Affects You (And Your Sex Life)

I concede that poverty is not a very sexy topic to discuss. It’s right up there with dead kittens, crying babies, and Paulie Shore movies in terms of unsexy issues. However, it is worth discussing because, like it or not, poverty profoundly affects people.

I’m not just talking about starving kids in Africa either. According to the World Bank, over half the global population lives on less than $2.50 a day. That’s right. Half the global population has to survive on the price of a mid-sized latte from Starbucks. Even though we are getting better compared to several decades ago, it’s still a big deal.

So why am I focusing on poverty? Why am I, an aspiring erotica/romance writer, making a big deal about this issue? Well, there is a sort of kinky pragmatism to it. I understand that sexy erotica/romance stories aren’t necessities. You can’t eat it or pay your rent with it. That means a world full of poverty is also a world where nobody has money to by my books. In that sense, my concern is somewhat self-serving.

That’s not to say I’m of the Ayan Rand branch of philosophy when it comes to poverty. That’s why I made such a big deal of the Universal Basic Income, which I believe will become more and more appealing as we enter an age when machines do more work. However, there’s another reason why poverty matters to me and should matter to everybody with functioning genitals.

It’s true. Poverty affects people in profound ways. So naturally, it would also affect your sex life as well. Believe it or not, people do get paid to study this stuff. Research has correlated poverty with risky sexual behavior that leads to very unsexy impacts. However, the data gets even unsexier than that.

According to census data, birth rates plummet during recessions. That makes sense. Poverty causes a lot of stress and nearly every bit of credible research shows that stress is right up there with bloody rectal warts in terms of things that kill the mood.

Stress makes it hard for a man to get an erection. It makes it hard for a woman to get moist. It makes it hard to set a nice, sexy mood. Stress is the equivalent of kryptonite to sex and what causes more stress than concerns over money?

That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. That’s a serious question that many people, who are much smarter than me, have asked and studied. According to the American Psychological Association, the biggest sources of stress involve money, work, and the economy. These are the top three and they’re all tied to poverty, both directly and indirectly.

The impact of stress and poverty on our sex lives is painfully obvious. However, the way in which that impact manifests in the modern world is changing. It’s still as big a mood-killer as it ever was, but it’s using an exceedingly flawed system to its advantage. If it were a super-villain in a comic book, it wouldn’t even need a master plan. It just needs to work smarter and not harder.

The current generation of young people, the Millennials as they’re often labeled, are at a severe disadvantage compared to previous generations and it has horrible implications for their sex lives. For one, they had the misfortune of becoming adults during the worst job market in a century. People are living longer, working longer, and not giving good-paying jobs to the generation that reveres selfies and Kim Kardashians ass.

Beyond fewer job prospects, there’s one other burden that’s crushing Millennials and their libidos. They are entering the adult world with crushing levels of student loan debt. At the moment, the average student loan debt it approximately $37,172. According to Pew, that’s a 352-percent increase since 1990. Other than stock in Apple, Netflix, and Amazon, few assets have increased that much over that span of time.

This is where it gets personal for me because this has impacted me directly. I went to college. I graduated from a major public university with honors after four years. I did have to go into debt and work a summer job to pay for college, but it was not $37,172. It actually came out to around $10,000. However, I worked my ass off, and lived at home for a few years, to pay that off. It’s as unglamorous as it sounds.

It’s also an option that not every student has when they graduate. Some students have parents who aren’t there to support them for whatever reasons, be they tragic or trivial. Even if they are, they may still end up getting a job at Starbucks to pay off that debt and that’s just not going to cut it.

When I was in college, I had classmates who had over $100,000 in debt, just to attend. That’s basically a mortgage and we still expect these young people to come out of college, get to work, and start making babies to keep the species going? Then, they have the audacity to wonder why some students end up doing porn on the side?

With all these burdens, is it really that surprising that Millennials are less sexually active than any previous generation before them? It has nothing to do with prudishness either. I’m sure many Millennials would like to have more sex, but how can they? Between the stress of a lousy job market and massive loads of student debt, how can they even get in the mood?

This is why poverty matters, both to starving kids in Africa and young people in America. These issues do have solutions. Europe already has policies that make college affordable, and even free, in many cases. There are also absurd legal practices like not allowing students to discharge loans in bankruptcy that can be changed.

Throw in other measures like a Universal Basic Income and maybe, just maybe, people will be less stressed and more inclined to get intimate with one another. More intimacy means even less stress. It also means stronger bonds, stronger families, and better lives in general. If it also means that people will be more inclined to read books by erotica/romance writers as well, then that’s just a nice bonus.

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Universal Basic Income: A Sexy Idea For The Future?

Whenever a bold, ambitious new ideas comes along, there are sure to be skeptics and critics. It’s an unfortunate part of human nature. Our caveman brains get too comfortable with a situation, even if that situation is terrible and involves us shitting in a ditch. We’ll resist change at every turn until it becomes exceedingly inconvenient.

While I imagine there was plenty of resistance to those who introduced ideas like democracy, gender equality, and circumcision, some ideas make so much sense that people have to go out of their way to make excuses. Granted, they’ll still find those excuses. People are tragically adept at clinging to outdated ideas, even when they’ve been thoroughly debunked. Just look at creationists.

There’s no question that our current situation in the world has room for improvement. It’s true, although you’d never know it by watching Fox News for more than five minutes, that the human race is getting better. It’s also true that there’s still a lot of suffering.

According to GlobalIssues.org, there are over one billion people living in poverty. I’m not just talking about the kind of poverty that makes a Big Mac seem like a luxury either. According to UNICEF, around 21,000 children die a day because of poverty-related issues. I think most of us can agree that when children are dying, it’s a big freaking issue.

Even rich countries, like the United States, can’t escape the effects of poverty. According to the most recent census data, about 13.5 percent of the population, which amounts to approximately 43.1 million people, are living in poverty. For a country where people get rich for making a pet rock, that’s just inexcusable.

Poverty is a very serious, very unsexy issue. I could spend multiple posts whining and lamenting about the breadth of this problem. However, if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know I find whining to be right up there with dry heaves, severe head trauma, and clown porn in terms of utterly unsexy wastes of time.

I’m not big on lamenting over problems. I like contemplating the solutions. The crazy creative side in me that comes up with sexy stories just loves to imagine bold new ways to solve overwhelming problems. Could there be such a solution to a problem as big as poverty? Well, there might be and it’s not just some crazy musing of an aspiring erotica/romance writer.

Ladies, gentlemen, and those of unspecified gender, I give you the Universal Basic Income. Like assless chaps, it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s the idea that the state shouldn’t waste time trying to distribute resources based on need, requiring a bureaucracy that makes the DMV look like a goddamn day spa. Instead, it should just provide a bare minimum cash payment to every citizen, regardless of wealth or need.

If that sounds too simple, then don’t bother bracing yourself. For once, it really is that simple. If you’re a legal citizen, you get a monthly cash payment. It’s not enough to help you afford a golden toilet seat, but it is enough to keep you from starving to death.

If it sounds familiar, it should. The United States has had something similar, but it’s reserved for those lucky enough to live beyond a certain age. It’s called Social Security and, by and large, it’s one of the most popular social programs the United States has ever created. Yes, it’s even more popular than programs that study the economic structures of World of Warcraft.

A Universal Basic Income, or UBI for those who hate excessive syllables, just takes social security a step further. It ditches the whole age requirement, exotic math formulas, and bureaucracy components and just gives a simple, flat payment to everyone. It could come in the mail. It could be sent via PayPal. Even the government can’t screw that up too much.

If it sounds like the kind of radical idea that emerged from one of Bernie Sanders’ fever dreams, then settle down and drink some tea. This idea is actually older than 99 percent of all the nations that currently exist today. Like so many other crazy ideas, it emerged in different times under a different label.

Way back in 483 BC, a time when Bernie Sanders was still fighting for the rights of serfs and peasants, the ancient Athenians came up with something called a Citizens Dividend. It’s basically the same concept, saying that the state should pay its citizens for its use of communal property and various resources.

Sure, the Athenians didn’t adopt the idea and went back to warring with the Persians, but the concept didn’t end there. It re-emerged again through the works of an influential Founding Father by the name of Thomas Paine, a man Glen Beck goes out of his way to admire.

In his essay, “Agrarian Justice,” Paine argues for a citizens dividend wherein the wealth of some obscenely rich landowners would go to some of the poorer citizens to alleviate poverty. It wasn’t a universal income, but it was a method for raising the floor, so to speak, on the poorest citizens.

Again, it wasn’t adopted and for good reason. Rich landowners generally don’t like the idea of having the government take their money and give it to poor people. That has never sat well with super rich folk who need these poor people toiling in the fields so they can bathe in gold and concubines.

However, that might be changing because, unlike the days of Ancient Athens and Thomas Paine, technology is making it so we don’t need a massive underclass of peasants toiling in factories or in fields. Machines are rapidly becoming advanced to a point where even jobs such as trucking, mining, and ordering a Big Mac is destined to become automated.

Last year, the White House issued a report that stated that approximately 47 percent of the existing jobs will become automated in the next decade or so. That’s a lot of jobs that will leave a lot of people out of work with no money and nothing to do. That’s a recipe for disaster, as those enduring Greece’s recent economic troubles can attest.

The UBI could be a way to effectively bridge the gap between the era of making poor people work their asses off to prop up the rich and the era where machines do all the work so people can do more productive things with their time. That means more time for aspiring erotica/romance writers to write sexy stories. Isn’t that a future worth fighting for?

This isn’t just a matter of technology. This is basic economics. Machines don’t get tired, don’t take sick days, and until Skynet becomes active, they don’t unionize. Why else would Amazon be investing so heavily in using robots to operate its warehouses? At some point, you won’t be able to blame immigrants or minorities for taking your job. It’ll be a robot and you’re not going to win a fight with a robot.

So long as automation increases profits and efficiency, it’ll keep happening. Along the way, more and more people will struggle to find work. Sure, those who are well-educated and well-connected will find something to do, even if it means just getting grossly overpaid for speaking gigs. For everyone else, though, the options are limited.

The UBI could be the key to truly alleviating poverty on a mass scale while providing even more incentives to get machines to do the work that crushes one too many souls. It will require a rough transition. A UBI doesn’t exactly fit with the old “Protestant Work Ethic” that some people still go by, but like the Catholic Church’s position on masturbation, it might be one of those concepts we just shrug off.

A world where people don’t have to work to survive is a very different world, one that’s hard to imagine in an America that glorifies working yourself to death while those lazy Europeans enjoy things like paid vacation, maternity leave, and unlimited sick time. However, that image will eventually clash with trends in technology and our need to alleviate poverty to keep society from strangling itself.

This is a world I do hope to see in my lifetime. I may be old, gray, and shitting in bags by then, but I’d like to see what this world would inspire. Would not having to work as much or as hard mean more meaningful relationships? Would it mean more time for sex and intimacy? We can only hope. As always, though, an aspiring erotica/romance can come up with some pretty kinky fantasies.

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