Speculations about work, leisure, income and automation (very topical given Marshal Brain's recent talk at Singularity Summit). Future issues include ongoing technological and cultural globalization, along with the impact of robotics and expert systems and the potential for structural unemployment.
We have to plan for radical economic dislocation and take this scenario seriously. We need to have a renegotiation about leisure and work.
Couple of ways to deal with this:
- We could go on permanent vacation -- but many of us have defined our lives according to our labor. Hughes says this is a recent phenomenon.
- Redistribution of unemployment -- e.g. change career paths, distribute work, etc.
The cyborg Buddha part of this: to ensure that the life of leisure will lead people to a life of social and psychological flourishing, rather than the opposite. We will have a great wealth of time (an unprecedented opportunity), the question is what to do with it. Society should encourage people to use this time to work on individual growth.
Future technologies will allow people to descend into a dystopian horror. The challenge will be to convince people not to choose this path. The pending range of bliss states is not enlightenment. What we're living in now is a kind of virtual reality, it's not the truth -- and we need to see things the way they really are. Bliss states are a part of this virtual reality.
LaTorra argued that modern demands for material goods have prevented many from pursuing a more spiritual path. If economic pressure were off, people would be given the opportunity to spend more time and be less fearful of following the Buddhist path.
The Cyborg Buddha project is about laying the groundwork and helping people along the right path. Of importance is to help people deal with new technologies.
Blissing out: no growth, no stasis, no inner personal or spiritual life. It's a trap.
Today we have the opportunity to create a society in which people can pursue a more rigorous spiritual life, including more time to meditate.
Future society will allow more people to use this leisure time and not be dependent on others.
Neurotechnologies will also dissipate our sense of an autonomous, single self -- a notion that jives very well with Buddhist beliefs.
Is it unBuddhist to want to live forever, a form of attachment? Hughes says it's okay to have the opinion that you want to keep on living.