It goes by several names, and has no doubt been trialed several times, but there are definitely some concerns that come up whenever someone I hear says that this concept would be a good idea. A post scarcity scenario, of which we’ve discussed before, that I call “Genie World”, is a truly frightening concept to me, but then again, maybe it’s just me. However, putting practical use of my knowledge to this problem, I’m sure seeing that, by the time that this articles done, you too won’t want everything that you’ve ever wanted.
G’ Day Mates! After a hiatus form this series, I’m finally coming back to once again, talk about some scary scenarios with you, and today, it’s going to be the aforementioned “Genie World”. First brought to my attention during a high school economics class, I didn’t think much of it at the time, but coming back to the thought, I am a bit surprised that he would actually think that this was a good idea. So, what exactly is this Genie World? Good question, because I’ve mentioned it several times without explanation, so allow me to do so.
The entire purpose of the study of economics is to find a balance with the concepts of limited resources, and unlimited wants. Basically, there’s not enough of everything for everyone to get whatever they want. If the world went post scarcity, as we discussed last time, than the entire concept of economics would most likely be irrelevant, because there is no more scarcity, the concept that arises from meeting unlimited wants with limited resources. So, finally, what is Genie World? My teacher proposed it to us in this way: What if everyone could have a personal Genie?
Right off the bat, something is wrong with this, but he continued. If you could make whatever you want, he said, then there would be no reason to be taking this class (obviously), but then he pushed it to far by saying that this idea can’t not be a good idea. There is no way to make it out to be a bad thing. The only reason you think it’s a bad idea is because you’ve been brainwashed into thinking hard work is a good thing. You would be stupid to say otherwise.
Well, I must be pretty dumb then, because I definitely say otherwise. Now before we go on and shoot this idea out the water, let’s go over quickly what we just described here: a world where everyone can get anything they want, no cost, no charge. Could you spot the problems? Let me highlight them for you: anything you want, no cost, no charge. In a world where you can get anything at no cost is... reasonable, as we discussed in the post scarcity article, but one where you can get everything at no charge, that is truly terrifying. When I say no charge, I mean no cost of delivery, no time to wait for your products, no energy wasted by you or anyone else, and absolutely no work necessary. You ask for something and it’s there.
When I made this connection for the first time, I’m surprised my teacher didn’t also. A world where you can get anything at no cost or charge, and where there is still unlimited wants? I bet you all forgot about that, but no, this would not actually get rid of unlimited wants, as infinity minus infinity is still infinity. No matter how much you subtract, it still keeps going, you’re only catalyzing the evolution of humanity at a rapid, and dangerous pace.
Ok, but what happens over limited resources? “But, but Cam, I thought you could get whatever you wanted?” Oh yeah? What about land? People? The Planet? What do I mean? Sure, at first it will all probably be trivial, with people wishing for trivial things: I want a cupcake, a baseball bat, a diamond ring, but you know humanity does when it gets whatever it wants? It wants more. You think the Europeans stopped colonizing after a few square miles? No! They took the whole thing, and moved all the natives out of the way to do it! Pretty soon, it’ll be: I want a gun, I want a sword, I want a missile... I want Africa. Then what happens? I mean, this kid’s genie wished hip up a nuclear arsenal for God’s sake! Pretty soon, “Genie World” is going to have to get renamed to “War World”.
Anything else that could go wrong? Sure thing. What other huge sin is humanity known for besides greed? Sloth, or in other words, excessive laziness. Think about it: would you ever need to leave your house you don’t have to go shopping for groceries, go to work, or entertain yourself? Can you really call humanity a race on earth if none of its members interact with each other, because I guarantee you that if everyone could live in absolute comfort without having to leave their homes, then no one would. In fact, since her on the subject of sins, are there any more we can cross off the list? Even though nothing can technically be “wasted” in society where everything is free and costless, I’d say we can definitely mark Gluttony off the list, but I can guarantee you that some ass hat somewhere is going to be wishing up a bunch of crap he doesn’t need, then destroying it and throwing it away for no reason, just because he didn’t want it or need it anymore. How about Wrath? Do I need to talk about this one? I think we’ve already covered it with the whole “nuclear missiles”, and “conquering Africa” thing. It sure as hell won’t be long before some guy gets pissed and calls in an airstrike on his worst enemy.
So maybe those are all extreme scenarios, but since I am the “voice of reason” after all, are there any good parts to this world? I mean, with unlimited wants, and unlimited resources, the sky truly is the limit. You can forget about all that singularity crap, because who needs a robot to design everything for us when we all can just wish everything we want into existence? Cancer? No problem, I wish for a cure. Broken leg? No problem, I wish for a new one. Better yet, I wish for a robot leg. Or if you’re a intactivist: circumcised penis? No problem, just wish your foreskin back on. I could go on, and on, and on here, but I think you get the point. Even if I could only wish for things that currently exist, it still wouldn’t be very long before any innovation start popping up left and right, and the things I mentioned to you above, suddenly become possible. Have cancer? No problem, just wish for a computer with, I don’t know, about a trillion gigs of memory, and have it work night and day (probably not for very long) to analyze the crap out of all the data in the world, and make the cure for you. I can go on and on with the other two, as well. The point is there definitely are some benefits, I’ll say that much.
So, what did we learn today? Let’s go over some pros and cons:
Positive Side Effects:
Negative Side Effects:
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