Social Question

HungryGuy's avatar

Question about hypothetical future utopia (see details)?

Asked by HungryGuy (16008points) July 17th, 2010

Suppose, hypothetically, it is 200 years in the future. Ignore for the moment that “utopia” rarely is, but assume for the sake of argument that “utopia” has arrived. For instance, home cold fusion (LENR / CANR) electric power generators are commonplace. Tritium, the “fuel” for cold fusion, can be easily extracted from tap water. So energy is plentiful and free, and your fuel is basically water. AI robots do all the menial labor like driving trains and buses, cleaning, yard work, etc. 3-D printers, a.k.a., matter replicators, are also commonplace. So you can manufacture anything you want, pretty much out of thin air (or, again, tap water which contains trace amounts of just about every element needed to make any consumer product). As a result of this, the economy has collapsed because nobody has to work for a living. Nothing is made or sold for profit by companies. There is no longer any such thing as advertising. Money is obsolete and worthless. Another plus of this is that crime will drop to nearly 0%. Sure, “crimes of passion” will still occur, but burglary, muggings, theft, robbery, will cease to have any motivation. Vice “crimes” like drugs and prostitution will also end simply because of the end of a profit motive. Very many social problems will cease to exist with the absence of money and profit motive. Politicians will no longer be influenced by corporate profit interests since corporations and private companies will cease to exist.

Now, those of you who presently write or create art for a living: If there’s no profit or income from it, would you still write/create for the satisfaction and pleasure of it? If not, what else would you do?

What about other professions that robots (even AI robots) probably won’t be able to do, like police, school teacher, surgeon, researcher, etc? Will people still volunteer their time to perform these professions gratis, if only a few hours a week? or do you think our “utopia” means that technological progress will effectively come to a screeching halt since there’s no longer a profit motive do to anything?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

26 Answers

rebbel's avatar

Thought i was going to find the question: “What is the difference between a hypothetical future utopia and a realistic future utopia?”.~

HungryGuy's avatar

Have any idea how to make my question clearer? I’ll ask the mods to let me edit it…

rebbel's avatar

No no, don’t do that.
I was referring to your most recent questions where you asked the differences between this and that.
I haven’t even read this question (i will do so now).

HungryGuy's avatar

Oh! I get it. LOL :-)

And I have lots more of those, but I don’t want to piss the mods off too much with a whole bunch of them in a row…

Your_Majesty's avatar

Robots can do anything we want they do for us,you just need to put specific program on them,so maybe we’ll live longer without have to wasting our energy to sustain our life.

After all,“Money is the root of all evil”. And I keep reminding myself why I read the whole detail.

TexasDude's avatar

Interesting question.

I would probably write and paint for enjoyment still, but I admit that my primary motivation for writing at the moment is the possibility that I could turn a profit, should my work be marketable enough, which is essentially my goal.

mrentropy's avatar

I thought about this while going over what the world would be like with a working Feynman/Drexler nano-based technology.

As near as I figure it, artists and, to a lesser extent, computer programmers will make out like bandits. If everyone can make, or grow, a toaster on demand then the only thing separating you from the Jones’ is the shape and extra functionality.

In much of the same way that all sunglasses are two colored pieces of plastic (or glass, rarely) by a frame and the cost differences are based more on who designed the frames, who designed your toaster will be the big thing. How unique your toaster is will be important. And for that most people will need an artist. And, if necessary, a computer programmer to make changes (if needed) to whatever device will do the actual assembling.

Paper money or credits may be gone, but there are still other ways of payment. Some sort of barter system.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

I don’t think that aesthetics, be they personal or otherwise, would vanish in a Utopia such as you’ve described. Removing some of the factors like greed, a need to steal or to wage war would be immensely desirous, but it wouldn’t completely remove personal desire altogether. Humans are curious creatures, always searching for something to fill the void and everyone would prefer their environment to be useful, stimulating, beautiful and relaxing. Because of that, and the fact that most people like to get involved on a personal level for their own benefit and enjoyment as much as for anyone else’s, I sincerely doubt that things like art, teaching, science and public service would cease to exist. We don’t like being bored.

ipso's avatar

With unlimited resources human population would grow profoundly. How would density be checked? A utopia model must somehow account for population growth.

I’m not sure if Star Trek ever addressed this issue in their vision of earth utopia.

HungryGuy's avatar

I don’t know. What mechanism do you think will check population?

Now, unlike consumer goods, land is the one thing that can’t be “replicated.” When the kids are grown and want to move out, but all the land is already owned. So even if robots could build new houses, there’s no unclaimed land to build them on, so they’re stuck. That could be a problem in this scenario.

ETpro's avatar

I would definitely continue to work. I like working. The fact I get paid to do it is just a nice side benefit. I’m like the baseball player who, when signing the multi-million dollar contract, quipped; “I sure hope they never find out I’d play for free.”

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

There can never be a true “Utopia”. There are too many points of views that differ. Even given 200 years, I don’t think that it will be enough time for racism, elitism, and religious intolerance to die out. The way politicians and their ilk play the race card no matter what the game is, seems we are degrading as a society.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I would volunteer my time as a nurse. I love being a nurse and caring for people and would gladly volunteer. What protection would I have from lawsuits though? Would there even be lawsuits? Would the facility I’m volunteering for cover me or would I need my own insurance? If I needed my own insurance, how would it be paid for if money is obsolete?

HungryGuy's avatar

@Russell_D_SpacePoet – There may well still be racism and hate. But the effects will be negligible since nobody would be dependent on anyone else for their prosperity in this scenario. I.e., there can’t be discrimination because there won’t be paid employment or paid services. Your electric power is free and you can make whatever consumer goods you want at home. How will racial hate manifest itself beyond the occasional bar fight and such?

Coloma's avatar

I’d be great with that system and would still write and garden and do all the things I love for the sheer joy of dong them.

But..I already live this way, I am very content with being over doing anyway, although I am an extroverted and energetic person by nature.

I think that our societies are far too workaholic in nature and people feel uncomfortable just basking in their beingness instead of constant rabid doingness. lol

Western culture especially loves to lable people lazy, unmotivated and unambitious if they are not in running, hyper-productivity mode the vast majority of the time.

I am grateful that I live in congruency to my own ’ call of the wild’ and not the mandates of screwed up priorities.

Keysha's avatar

I do not write for profit. I write because it is a NEED. And, just as a thought, if everyone can replicate anything they need or want, the only thing left that they could not do, is original art, poetry, song, or writings. There would always be a need for some kind of funds, just to purchase these type of things. A computer or robot can re-create, but cannot create on it’s own.

The problem with that utopia you describe is that you give no one any reason to do anything. Not to go out of their homes or anything else. And without that, how would we meet, become friends, lovers, partners? Would we live our lives in a solitary existence, while mechanical replicators artificially impregnate ova with sperm, then allow the fetus to grow in an artificial environment? Would we be forever alone?

Shadows dance on the wall.
Candlelight flickers.
No sound but my heartbeat.
The air is still and quiet.
My footsteps cover the sound of my heart.
My soul aches with loneliness.
I wander alone.
Am I waiting for something?
Or someone?
Come morning I won’t remember.
Right now I can’t forget.
Alone in the darkness.

HungryGuy's avatar

@Coloma – Yay! We agree on something :-)

@Keysha – I never said that such a scenario won’t have its problems. But my Q was what if it comes to pass? And why won’t you be able to go to the park, the beach, or walk around your neighbourhood to meet people? In a world with no money, why wouldn’t you just hop a train to go spend a week here and a week there to visit friends you’ve made online? Sign up for a cruise and go whenever you want—no worries about money, port fees, etc. Such a scenario will expand opportunities to spend time with friends and make new ones!

Coloma's avatar


Hey, I’m agreeable girl! lol ;-)

Everyone has multiple ‘parts’....complexity rules as long you’re not a complete ragman like some in these here parts! haha

Keysha's avatar

@HungryGuy I guess I am just in a cynical mood. To me, mankind is inherently lazy. They are, as a rule, willing to do as little as possible, as long as they get gratification from it. In the world you describe, I have no doubt that virtual reality is also well developed. If that is the case, why leave your comfortable home, when you can virtually be anywhere?

And I did give my view on what I would do, and that money would still be needed. Again, computers and robots can re-create, but cannot create. Because of that, money will be needed, to give people the only originality in their lives.

HungryGuy's avatar

@Keysha – Yes, mankind is inherently lazy. But if I don’t have to work for a living, I sure ain’t gonna. I’m going to spend my time writing, traveling, and yes, just plain goofing off playing video games. If most people are like me, who are you going to sell your writing to? Either you’ll write for the pleasure of it alone, or find some other way to occupy your time.

Now, maybe there will be enough trade that money will continue. My scenario doesn’t actually forbid people possessing money and trading with it. But for there to be a market economy, there has to be supply and demand—buyers and sellers. Buyers will, themselves, need a source of income so they’ll also have to be producers and sellers of their own art. So maybe there will be two “civilizations” co-existing. People like me living off my technology with no source of income. Artists and musicians creating for the joy of it without any financial compensation. And people like you selling your art and using your income to buy the art of others, while still getting your essential survival needs met for free from automation. That might work. But your art will be cut off from me because I won’t have the money to be able to buy it.

BTW, where’s Arisztid? I haven’t seen him around lately…

Keysha's avatar

@HungryGuy I did say that writing for me, is a NEED. I do not get paid for what I right, except in the pleasure of those I write for.

Aris is right here, beside me. You just have not seen him, because he is a sneaky Gypsy.

HungryGuy's avatar

@Keysha – That’s good to know you’ll continue doing what you love in a future moneyless society. Say “hi!” to Aris for me :-)

ipso's avatar

@HungryGuy“What mechanism do you think will check population?”

I don’t know. I don’t think you can in a free society.

Perhaps a better theoretical utopia would then have well managed resources – not unlimited resources. Maybe a true utopia should not require unlimited consumer goods and free power. To me that sounds more like a Faustian dystopia.

Actually, it sounds like what most people have now in America.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@HungryGuy Someone has to be in charge. That means that not everyone will be equal. Along the line somewhere there will be a person or group that resents not being in charge. Any true utopia will be a thousand years from now.(If we beat the odds and make it that long..). The human race has to evolve on a level that is more than physical. We have to evolve in our relationships with each other and also with our planet.
As it stands right now, we have destructive relationships with both. Seems to me anyway.

HungryGuy's avatar

@ipso – Right. It is what most people have now in America. At least until the economy improves, the unemployment benefits run out, and have have to go back to work :-/

And yes. I agree you can’t check population in a free society. But even with free matter replication, there are still physical limits. For instance, the amount of available land to build on will remain constant. If all the land is owned by someone, and you want to move out of your parent’s house into your own, without a monetary system to buy and sell land, or without a source of money, you’re SOL.

HungryGuy's avatar

@Russell_D_SpacePoet – Right. I never said that government will go away, or that everyone will be equal. There will still be decisions that have to be made regarding infrastructure, zoning, education priorities, and a gazillion other things that politicians love to be in charge of.

My vision is just that if you want to live comfortably, you can have your energy and material/consumer needs met without having to work for a living. Competitive people will always exist, and will probably keep a sub-economy going among themselves.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther