During a brain-storming session reflecting on the ontological nature of scarcity I stumbled on something.
For the record I'm a computer scientist. I've worked for Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and in general am about as level-headed / skeptical as they
come. I previously held objectivism was the only reasonable philosophy a scientist could use in day-to-day life without otherwise sacrificing clarity
of thought. Furthermore as a rational individual I believed the idea of a God, or gods, was an unknowable thing making me agnostic.
Now what if I were to tell you that through philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre's view of scarcity (the idea that a class system is embedded in the very
nature of reality - IE/ life as an exigency, life as a value to be produced and reproduced, and life as a good to be consumed
) it's possible to see that all things
driven by the notion that the "lack of something causes its pursuit?" Or worded more strongly, "the lack of something necessitates its
You might ask, "Why is this worth my time and why should I care?" Simply because this provides us a roadmap not just for humanities future, but any
sentience's beginning and end.
In mathematical terms "life as a value to be produced and reproduced" is a ratio of "life as exigency" (or basic survival) and "life as a good to
be consumed." Put another way Life as exigency is represented by Cosine, Life as a good is Sine, and Life as a value is the Tangent function. How do
I know these functions map to a sinusoidal period?
Consider if we're to take the long view of what will happen to humanity, assuming we don't kill ourselves, eventually we'll hit the point where
we'll expand out and control our solar system (Kardashev's type 2 civilization
that we'll work towards gaining control over our entire galaxy (type 3 civilization). Then finally when we've mastered our entire universe,
converting matter to energy and energy to matter, perfectly recycling all transitions, we'll hit a type 4 civilization.
It's at this point humans will become omnipotent. A form of a god if you will. What comes after that? Following that is the notion of psychological
Since nature won't have the ability to impose itself on us humans will primarily be interested in the creation of beauty, exploration, and learning.
So the only scarcity that will exist, will come in the form of "lack of knowledge" and "lack of being able to be in all locations." I'm more than
happy to speculate how I think this will occur, but for the moment consider what happens at the end of "lack of knowledge" and "lack of being able
to be in all locations?"
At that point we'll be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. So the only thing that will be scarce is "the lack of something."
If you can know all things, be everywhere, and control all things, what then? I see several possibilities but the most obvious ones are either a)
start over - hit the reset button or b) become the vessel of a new sentience / universe.
Which is to say the cycle starts all over again. Even if the circle isn't the idealized version of the periodic function we're at the very least
looking at something as represented in a logarithmic spiral.
Now I've said all this because it exposes something very important. It shows key points in any sentience's existence through trigonometric
We are approaching point (d) on the graph (0 exigency, infinite value, -1 good). Which is to say we're very close to becoming a Type 1 civilization.
If this idea is correct, it shows what we need to do to move in to the next epoch.
The most fundamental component right now is getting all people to understand we need to drive down all physical exigency, removing any nature imposed
harshness (lack of food, water, and shelter). To do this however implies that humanity must somehow create something or become itself
of creating infinite value (sacrifice, receiving less than what is produced) to achieve the greatest possible good for the group (-1). This might come
about through robotics, fusion, an idealized government, a global change in conscious-awareness, or perhaps something stranger like a singularity,
off-world life or deity-intervention.
But whatever this thing is that causes the change will not only be world altering - it will very likely affect our very nature.
Now I'm writing this here on ATS because this community is very vocal and open to new concepts. This idea represents a road map not just for us now,
but for all of time and space. It needs people like ATS'ers to scream as loud as possible that we need to "reduce nature imposed physical
This is so extremely important because I suspect if we attain the capability of fundamentally controlling the nature of our planet (type 1
civilization) and we don't provide certain social minimums, despite having a near-perfect understanding of how to provide sustainable living for all
people, it will likely result in catastrophic wars. It doesn't take a crystal ball to see these military actions will be much worse than anything
we've ever experienced in the past. If only because it gets easier every day for governments & fundamentalists to attain biological weaponry.
The debate in the here and now is still very much focused on, "is capitalism better than socialism / marxism / barter / etc?" Basically this theory
shows no economic system is better than any other, but rather that they each have their time and place. It seems the economic motivator that will get
us through this hump will very likely be capitalistic, but this greed based incentive must be accompanied by socialistic institutions. I've tried to
explain to others that humans engage in 3 types of economic behavior. (1) Personal gain, (2) working towards societal goals stipulated by the group
(things like NASA, etc), & (3) providing a social minimum (ie/ food-stamps, etc).
Large institutions like NASA (which no private investor could afford) provides humanity hidden rewards that are soft-sells because they don't result
in immediate economic return. Pure capitalism would kill these sorts of organizations.
Likewise if technology is available to provide all people a basic improved social minimum why not be our brothers keeper and provide the service free
of charge? Or to express this idea in a more easy to grasp manner, "What sort of economy would we have if robots ran things?"
We're getting closer to this goal every day as robotic work-forces are increasingly used in assembly. When we eventually come up with a way to
reliably and sustainably provide food (vertical farms / hydroponics / etc), water (atmospheric water generators), & shelter to all people for little
to no effort an economic change fundamentally needs to occur because why should anyone have to pay towards something that is freely, sustainably, and
Now perhaps you don't agree with this idea and some might even say it's crazy, but I'm writing this here on ATS because I've found most of the
people here are willing to reflect deeply on an idea before coming to a knee-jerk conclusion. Truly grasping this idea requires a small leap of faith
and a large amount of vision. I suspect ATS'ers have the capability of seeing the big picture because the people who frequent this site aren't
blinded by the issues and dogmas of the here and now.
[edit on 26-3-2010 by asala]