The Anti-Work Phenomenon: Can you explain it? (plus, a new perspective on Work)

There’s an anti-work phenomenon or movement going on, which says that “work is bad”, giving various reasons like:

  • negative experiences at work, bad workplace culture…
  • being underpaid and overworked…
  • feeling under-employed - not making the best use of their talents and passion
  • or reacting to the new possibilities offered by accelerating AI which people may think of as “this is going to take up all our jobs anyways, so just give us that universal basic income and freedom from work”

How do you explain all this from a Humane Tech perspective?

Also, I have a different perspective about Work and Anti-Work
How can work be bad? I feel we are getting our definitions of work wrong.

Work is a set of actions that creates Value. From a Systems perspective, we need to look at who is creating this Value, for whom, and whether in doing this, they are destroying Value for others.

In case they are destroying Value only for equivalent competitors, this is simply competition.

But if they are destroying Value for sub-systems under them (employees / users/ consumers / citizens) and/or Super-Systems above them (national politics, natural ecosystems), they are in fact creating externalities or negative effects for others who depend on them or who they depend on, and might be ignoring this completely in their race for growth. And this kind of work which is destroying Value for non-competitors should rightly be called “Bad Work”, or “Anti-Work”.

Sure I can explain it. Work is bad. The proof is that people don’t go to work unless they are paid.

The strange phenomenon is when people say work is good. They say things like we need full employment. Or more typically people lie by saying how much they love work just so they can get ahead in their jobs (or to prevent them from losing their jobs).

Regarding technology and work, technology hasn’t changed the basics of things very much. The biggest change with tech and work are that people are telecommuting or not commuting at all, which is great for the environment and for saving time. Another great change is that tech has allowed jobs to move to those who need it most is the world – people in countries which are not rich. Yet technology has created new forms of exploitation such as Uber taxis and food delivery slaves, and new ways to scam workers. For example many of these services do not transfer tips to workers and instead steal worker’s tips through complex schemes. However overall tech may have invented new ways of working, but the same principles apply as before. Just now we have a global paying field instead of national or local ones. Certainly employment has remained.

The negative externalities that you mention – negative externalities should be taxed. For example fossil fuels should be taxed. Companies that disrupt housing or underpay should be taxed. And so on. Note that I say taxed, not restricted. Banning or limiting things doesn’t work. Taxing things has many benefits and the same effects only better.

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Can you try to shake off all pre-conceptions about work for a moment? Like the whiteboard with all the complex formulae has been cleared off, and it is spic and span now. Full of possibilities…

Let’s think about this: If all work is bad, we should all stop right now (and perish eventually due to food shortage.)
Oh, but dying is worse! So let’s choose the lesser evil. Let’s work and put food on the table.
Work isn’t that bad now… But yes, it is quite bleak if we had to compare it with death to make it look good :-(. But what if we compared it to “feeling alive and inspired” instead? :slight_smile:

Can’t you think of anything that will make you say “work is good”? Is there no activity that you would enjoy doing (so that you would be happy to do it even if you don’t get paid) AND that creates benefits for the world, while not causing greater harms (such that it is creating a net positive value for the world, and you get back your rightful share of this value, helping you to sustain yourself and your dependents)?

I think there is a misunderstanding. I think in general the preconception is that work is good, and critical thinking says work is bad.

Yes I understand it’s simplistic to simply say something is either bad or good. All that I meant was from the perspective that people wouldn’t do work unless they get paid for it, therefore that work in this case is bad.

By work of course I meant paid work. Yes there are other kinds of work, like brushing my teeth, writing this post and volunteer work. But when people say work is bad, they mean that it is paid work that is unpleasant and time-consuming.

Just because (paid) work is bad doesn’t mean we should stop doing it of course. We need to drop idealism and realise that money is the greatest contributor to quality of life, even while it is one of many things that makes or lives better. To doubt the importance of money, compare the average person from Switzerland to the average one in Burundi.

Yes of course. However once something no longer becomes paid work it becomes volunteer work. But this post is all about paid work.

The problem with the ideal that people can do unpaid volunteer work is that they must give up getting paid for that work. For example if a startup decides to create some idealistic safe tech they might find that it doesn’t make any money. They do the same amount of work as other people, but earn much less or even nothing. The financial loss has serious consequences not just on that person’s quality of life, but also the quality of life of anybody they support.

There is no such thing as getting back your rightful share of value for doing good things in the world. The only benefits one gets are intrinsic. Intrinsic value might be more valuable and more important that say spending the same time doing some other activity. So logically we see many retired and rich people spend more time doing volunteer work, while all other people spend more time working for money.

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Thank you very much for clarifying! :slight_smile:

To rephrase my original question with the help of your descriptions/worldview: Why is our jobs market so screwed up, so that usually it is observed that any good work has to be done for free or less money, and any paid roles tend to have less intrinsic value?

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Great that clears things up!

The job market like any market is based on supply and demand. There is a high supply of people wanting to do work with high intrinsic satisfaction. So according to supply and demand pay is lower or even zero.

Welcome @learner2020 :wave:

Work is good because it causes unused property to bear fruit and leads to positive life changes and greater independence. This applies even to jobs we don’t enjoy or like to do (which actually includes all jobs).

If no one had to work, then there would be no reason to till the soil, manufacture goods, learn valuable skills, or anything productive at all. Life would just grind to a halt.

The idea that work is “bad” because it’s not enjoyable is a hedonistic way of thinking that over-values the present moment at the expense of the future.

I do believe some companies exploit their workers and manipulate them in cruel ways, and that’s very unfortunate. For example, there has been a gradual erosion of work-life balance due to employers entering into people’s private lives with social media. It’s time for workers to have the right to control the communications technology they are required to use in the workplace so we can easily separate our work life from our social life. I also think there needs to be a revolution in ergonomic equipment manufacturing. Most of the ergonomic guidance of the past 50+ years has been thrown totally out the window with these new touch-screen based devices, and the standing-desk and pomodoro fads. This is a very dangerous situation we are heading into where people’s bodies are becoming damaged unnecessarily and desk / administrative work is becoming seen as something that has to cause physical pain/damage.

But in general I don’t think work is bad at all. There just needs to be some more power given to workers to choose our workplace technology.

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@Free Let’s think: if the demand was different, then the job market would look different. @penmanship hello!! I’ve read your answer, follow along please!

Demand is created out of causality (whatever happened before). This includes bad/wrong influences (lies, misconceptions or bad arguments spread to the masses through propaganda and/or advertising; plus there’s previous bad habits/culture of individuals/groups that get carried on subconsciously & reinforce this demand). Such bad influences may not justify the demand rationally or ethically, but our job markets continue to blindly, amorally and sometimes immorally provide the supply to such demand.

Working conditions are bound to suck sooner or later, if it’s going to be ONLY about monetary profts, cost-cutting measures, KPIs & other metrics, Quarterly Reports and answering to the shareholders; and NOT about humanity, ethics, answering to the future generations… considering the externalities, using better metrics… basically, ensuring that our work results in a net positive Value (benefits getting created are MORE than harms being caused).

Could you please go back to my original post, and look again at the second part where I’m saying something about taking a Systems perspective, looking at the actions being done and considering the net benefits created - net harms caused (at least to the non-competitors who depend on you or who you depend on – since causing harm only to your equivalent competitors could simply be called fair competition), and using this to determine if those actions are Work or Anti-Work…

I think the anti-work phenomenon exists and is growing due to the fact that more of our jobs have become about less net benefits being created (and usually mostly for the owners of the company and a few sycophant employees) and more net harms being caused (for the ecosystem, for most employees, for consumers, for our social fabric). Of course most people will feel terrible about this!

Even in the case of “happy” users/consumers, they may be feeling positive because they tend to see the benefits and are blind to the harms caused (including being addicted to the product, so of course they’re gonna be biased), thus only stating “hey this is an amazing product, I love it! Give me more!”. Or, is it case that most users of social media today are being very rational and alert and saying, “extractive attention economy is bad, please change the design, it is causing more harms than good to our lives, and tearing apart our social fabric?”

In short, the “anti-work movement” exists because more of our jobs are Anti-Work rather than Work, because the fundamental “Demand-Supply” running this world has been, both adversely affected by Human Downgrading and also causing it, in a vicious cycle that only accelerates if kept unchecked. This also means that the “Invisible Hand” of the Supply-Demand cycle needs to be made to consider & determine whether the actions being done/planned are Work or Anti-Work, if we want to ensure better jobs, better outcomes and better lives for more and more. In short, the Greater Good.

I have a hunch that we need to be competing fairly and/or collaborating more and across the systems in order to ensure the Greater Good: more Work, less Anti-Work.

I’m not proposing this as a miracle/panacea. This will be about changing our perspectives and conversations, changing the metrics and the incentives, changing how different parts of the systems are interacting.

Ethics and Empathy can help guide us in this. Aren’t these two of the most important factors that distinguish us from both animals and machines? In other words, aren’t they what make humans Humane?

In short, I’m feeling that only Humanity can save mankind, along with the rest of the Planet Earth, our Mother.

Thanks for the insight. This sounds a bit like ancient Greek philosophy. :slight_smile:

As I said before, it doesn’t make sense just to say that paid work is good of bad. Paid work can only be good or bad in context of something. If the context is changed then that will change whether work is good or bad in regards to that context. I was referring to the context that paid work is bad in the sense that it is a negative price to pay for the positive reward of getting money. You can look at work from another context like maybe hypothetically you really enjoy commuting to work and also hate getting a healthy amount of sleep therefore work is good for you.

I couldn’t agree more.

I hate office work. But it’s almost the only thing that pays. I feel sorry for people who work for corporations. Especially office workers in their many flavors, but in the end each is an office worker.

Sure. I wish I could change the system for the better. But we’re in the system and so we each are bound by it. To change the system would be to change the world, and that is a big task.

Perhaps it would even require changing humans, to make us smarter. However we’re not getting any smarter, we humans stay the same as we’ve always been. We’re a species where most people are poor and do not live in freedom. We’re a species that is ruled by “kings” (Thailand, UK etc), dictators (Russia, China, Saudi Arabia etc) and oligarchs (USA, Russia, etc). It has pretty much always been like this. So don’t overestimate humanity.

There has been a discussion of benefit corporations and other forms of entities which serve humanity in addition to earning profits. But the problem is motivation, as people are motivated by money. Google has to be evil to grow its EBITDA by 20% a year.

This is quite profound thank you. I personally prefer to do “work” and not “anti-work”. But many people can’t tell the difference.

I am a supporter of the idea of the government taxing negatives. However this idea doesn’t get the support of either the right (anti-tax) of the left (against anything that will raise prices for the middle class). The fact of the matter is that taxing negatives - to make the world a better place - would be taxing the middle class and poor people. Because it is ordinary people who are consuming these bad things. So to make bad things go away, we need to tax ordinary people so that they stop consuming bad things. For example what if each person were taxed 10 cents per social media post. Just imagine the money it would raise for the government, and the positive reduction in social media use. I would support such an idea.

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"With great power comes great responsibility"

Who has more power? Consumers or Creators/Owners? And even among the consumers, don’t we have the “influencers/celebs” with lots of followers and views, and the “common users”? Who has more power?

How about this: you can have up to 1000 followers for free, but then you have to pay: a tiered pricing scheme is common with other digital commodities like cloud storage and broadband, so why not social media?

More power is at the top: Understand that the design and strategy happens at the corporations and governments. Controlling/guiding them is a direct way of shifting the unhealthy “Supply-Demand” towards a healthier one.

If you tax the poor and the middle class for using a particular app, they will simply shift to another app which isn’t taxed yet. If the entire ecosystem of social media apps is causing bad things (see 1. extractive attention economy and 2. Tristan Harris’ 2017 TED Talk), then this entire sector needs to be taxed/controlled/regulated, from the top.

When prices rise or unlimited posting on social media is controlled, consumers will simply change their tastes, and the “Supply-Demand” cycle’s health will improve sooner.

I expanded on just this point, because the same can be true for our jobs and the anti-work phenomenon: We can have better, fulfilling jobs that make the world a better place and get great intrinsic as well as extrinsic value from doing them! This includes the good working conditions and a fair pay that you have mentioned earlier @Free and @penmanship. The changes need to happen at the top for a more sure, sooner result.

What we can do is propose good ideas, designs and strategies, conduct experiments and tests, spread awareness among 1.the common people and 2.those at the Top, and get the citizens/consumers to support the good design and strategies by collectively voicing and demanding to the Top for such changes! Isn’t that how the “power of the people” is supposed to work in democratic systems anyways?

I have something more to say about cost-cutting, metrics, money and “Anti-Work”, conveyed by this question: in our economy, we are all competing: BUT, are we competing for fame/power or for innovation/problem-solving? I’ll expand on this later. :slight_smile:

Nice conversation here. I don’t think we live in a democratic world as I mentioned before.

Who is at the top, and how much power do those at the top have?

Corporate leaders of public companies can’t do anything which will reduce profits. So negative external harms are created for profit. So do corporations really have any power to change themselves? Not really.

So again who is at the top?

As public corporations are ruled by profit, then the power at the top is either in government which might be hopefully controlled by the people, or in rich philanthropists.

Government is at the top with the power is to ban or tax negatives, and also to break up illegal monopolies such as Google. However it will usually be people who pay the tax for consuming / creating negatives, because in order to change consumer behavior the tax has to be on people themselves and not on the companies. So my crazy idea is that one way to change companies doing bad work is to change consumer behavior by the taxation of online behavior.

With paid work we’re simply competing to take resources, usually away from others. For example if someone is a citizen of a rich country such as Canada, then that person is taking more than a fair share of pay compared to the amount of work that that person does. Meanwhile most people in the world live in non-rich countries and work hard but get very little. You ask who is at the top? The top are citizens of rich countries and the rest of the world suffers because of their selfish greed. A first step is to know that we are at the top, and to admit to our own greed for having more than our share of money and our refusal to give it up.

People in the grand scheme of things care about money and the safety and living standards that buys themselves and their families. Yes typical people also care about other things, such as health, community, hedonism and so on.
But competing for fame or power isn’t so important for most people, despite the narcissistic and insecure outliers that dominate social media. Neither is competing to be innovative or to solve problems so important for the typical person.

Wisdom from rap music, cash rules everything. I have seen people lining up to desperately sell things for literally pennies. I have seen starving children steal food. I have seen the spirit of people in rich socialist countries broken to the point where they do nothing at all except complain. I have seen how in the richest country in the world, a large share of people are denied any medical coverage unless they pay for it. These are the people of earth. We do not do unpleasant work for free. And we also know that if the work has a high level of intrinsic value then we won’t get paid for it at all. This is the way it is and always has always been, it’s immutable.

I’m with you on that idea. But as I said, the government should tax the entire sector. This will percolate as prices to pay for consumers (prices!! not taxes!! as most people don’t pay taxes in developing/underdeveloped countries) - and not remain completely free like it is now (freemium model: free up to a limit, then pay as per a tiered pricing model based on say how many posts you are making, and how many followers/viewers you have - currently the cheap data storage and network bandwidth, plus ad-supported and “selling-user-data” revenue models have kept this free unlimited). Same thing as you were saying, but ensures it is done across the board for a problematic sector, not on an app-by-app basis. If it’s done slowly, then people will just find loopholes and migrate to other apps. Here’s what I’d said:

As for:

Again, the government (of the people or at least well-intentioned rich people) can redefine what profits mean for companies, by making large corporations and/or entire sectors accountable for the currently “external” negative effects. If it’s on your books, you will start taking care of it. Out of sight, out of mind (often conveniently - “let’s exploit the nature and the poor, no one is questioning us - it is free!”). Again, this will percolate as higher prices to pay and consumer behavior will change.

Not necessarily, we need to use purchasing power parity to compare the salaries practically: e.g. using something like http://salaryconverter.nigelb.me/ What I’m saying is: salaries will be lower in poorer countries compared to richer countries in absolute values, but compared by PPP, they can be equivalent and hence fair. You can buy same things in different markets for different prices. Yeah, what this doesn’t help is the overall standard of living in these countries: you need development across the board to raise these levels, not just higher salaries.

In fact, this PPP is being exploited when corporations fire their employees and outsource their operations. It only helps the corporations. The local markets suffer. “Anti-Work”!! Yes, at times, you can see the price drop for consumers as good, but if the product is having bad effects like those described by extractive attention economy and human downgrading, then you are just making those bad things affordable!! So still, “Anti-Work”. I’m not saying outsourcing always need be overall bad. But it often has been.

Oh wait, this made me think: what if UN or the government of some developed country said “Don’t use PPP for paying comparative salaries as per local markets of employees. Pay equally to all your employees in absolute values everywhere.” Hmm, firstly corporations will stop outsourcing - no point in getting a possibly less-skilled labor for same price. They’ll always go for the highest-skilled labor possible for their budget. (of course, there will also be lots of scams by getting labor under different company’s name - so this will require to be put under scanner) Secondly, this will require additional steps for the poor countries, because without foreign investments, the job market can suddenly look barren and just put their economy in a shock: so more efforts and funding for social entrepreneurship programs and local startup incubators in those countries will be very very crucial.

Sigh! I know how this all sounds though, too much control is required for this. But it is like parenting right? You can’t just leave your young impressionable teenage children off the hook to do anything they please, need to have some kind of discipline and guidance over what’s right, what’s wrong. And if more parents in the society are acting responsibly, the burden on an individual parent is reduced. Or take the example of user-reputation-systems on discourse or github or reddit or wikipedia, ensuring mostly good behavior by design, and keeping the community overall healthy and safe for everyone.

An example of the good and the bad of top-down strategies is the Rwanda Plastic Ban example:



I appreciate you describing the ground-reality. I’m aware of it and have been living in it like most of the people. It’s good to keep this in front of our eyes while we are dreaming up solutions.

Things are not immutable, systems are not immutable. While not perfectly, but things have been changing. Yes, we also do get the old bad things in new forms. You’ve described some of them already. But we can also agree that progress has been made in bonded slave labor, women disenfranchisement, colonialism, even democracy.

This has to do with the “fixed mindset vs growth mindset” concept used in education. While there is no panacea or utopia, there are good and bad ideas, weak and powerful ones as well. I’m delighted to see how its narrative has changed over time as it interacts with our complex systems. We all need to become aware about complex systems and their properties, if we are interested in making positive changes to the ground-reality.





Let’s jump to a 10, 20 or 100 years in the future. A SuperIntelligent AI entity, more intelligent that the collective human population, is ruling us. Shouldn’t this entity understand the humane aspects like empathy and ethics IF we want it to be good and fair to us? Sure, we couldn’t imagine the possibilities “IT” might and there can be so many other ways “greater good” can be done, but at least right now in our limited human brains, we can agree about the importance of those things?? Also, in their absence, if such a super entity is shaped by the current unhealthy “Anti-Work Demand-Supply” culture, then wouldn’t it learn to define good and bad according to those metrics and patterns? In that case, we’ll just be making the current trends of destruction of nature and degradation of humanity much more efficient and effective - optimizing destruction of humanity!

Thus, we need to start taking our idealistic ideas about greater good and ethics, law and order more seriously than ever. And we need to understand the importance of developing empathy - every conversation might require starting from scratch in this process of “developing empathy”. Without such understanding, we can’t co-operate or co-ordinate properly. And on a scale, I think we call it consensus.

(My aforementioned notes about money and Anti-Work are still pending to be posted, revising them a bit every time I look through them.)

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Yes you are right that progress happens and we should try to improve ourselves and our world. And that we need to develop our empathy. But we also need to follow economics.

However “outsourcing” that in my view is a word I haven’t heard in a long time, perhaps because there is a possible undertone of discrimination. I think in the past when that word was commonly used the idea was that somehow people in other locations deserve less opportunity than local people. Obviously that’s plain discrimination and is silly, but many people actually still think that way today.

Nowadays people just speak of opening another office, and all these “we’re better than them”, “they’re so poor, not rich like us”, “don’t share with poor countries” and so on ideas don’t even come up anymore.

In fact I know some office locations where cost-adjusted and after-tax salary is 50% higher than in the rich world, even though workers are paid 1/4 of the rich world salary. And so actually the workers in these low-cost locations are sometimes actually richer when adjusted for costs than those ones in the rich world.

The ethical thing to do is to move work to poorer countries and away from rich countries.

Work is not virtuous. Yet it seems most people today erroneously associate doing paid work with virtue!

“Today, being a hard-worker is seen as commendable, almost virtuous. ‘Get a job’ is an insult intended to insinuate that someone is lazy and contributing little to society, while ‘hard-working folk’ are considered morally decent citizens.”

According to Aristotle, a life dedicated to work isn’t a life dedicated to virtue. Virtue doesn’t come from work, it comes from leisure.

“…in the most nobly constituted state, and the one that possesses men that are absolutely just, not merely just relatively to the principle that is the basis of the constitution, the citizens must not live a mechanic or a mercantile life (for such a life is ignoble and inimical to virtue), nor yet must those who are to be citizens in the best state be tillers of the soil (for leisure is needed both for the development of virtue and for active participation in politics).”

In my own words freedom from work allows us to develop virtue.

I think this is the correct assessment. Virtue does not come form work at all. That is the massive mistake of the world today. Virtue comes from the freedom of not having work.

In the name of virtue, I support the idea of 6 months of unpaid holidays per year for anyone who want them. I also support the idea of a 20 hour work week for anyone who wants it. In my opinion the way we force people to labor and into hard education is barbaric.

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As the next sentence in that article summarizes Aristotle: “In other words, people who are too busy working don’t have the time to perform their civic duty or develop sophisticated morals.”

Look at another recent (mini) discussion here triggered by the NYtimes op-ed video about the myths of recycling: The Great Recycling Con

As @LaurenceHerbert wrote there: “‘But somehow, despite being so busy, we’ve all been sleeping’ … I believe it’s because we’ve been so busy that we’ve been sleeping. The endless and enormous level of distraction out there is the real culprit, locking all of us into anywhere but this moment. Present moment awareness sees right through the distractions. It sees them as the illusions that they are as opposed to the reality that they pass themselves off as being. Present moment mindful awareness has done and can continue to work absolute wonders in this world. Pass it on, as they say!”

Interesting right?? Looks like we are getting on the same page now. (or have been, but it’s been “revealed”… :-P). Yet, as I’ve written above, I’m going to be an advocate of the “Work–Anti-Work” Duality Principle (just coined the term, not sure if it is accurate), which I’ve described to some extent in my earlier comments [1] [2], and then alluded to in [3] [4] [5]

Basically, I’m trying to re-define “Work” as the good virtuous activities - it can include hard, strenuous but unpaid or underpaid volunteer work, as well as leisurely learning or playing, among other things. And the opposite of it becomes “Anti-Work”. The problem with our world is, there’s more Anti-Work than Work, hence all the other problems. It seems to me that this is because of “Bad or Weak Governance”. My wish is that our job market changes so that all labor becomes “Work”. And all leisure leading to virtuous outcomes is also “Work”. Are you getting the overall picture (that I’ve been trying to draw) better now @Free?

As you’d said…

Yes, we should follow economics! Rather, we should follow “Economics”, I would say. See, “Economics” and economics are different. Your economics is the real-world phenomena shaped over time, including the currently unhealthy “Demand-Supply” cycle. Sure, I like the free-market economy and the invisible hand, but without “Good Governance”, it becomes extractive, exploitative like we see in our world now. So what is “Good Governance”?? I’d written earlier

This could be the “Good Governance” right? “the “Invisible Hand” of the Supply-Demand cycle needs to be made to consider & determine whether the actions being done/planned are Work or Anti-Work, if we want to ensure better jobs, better outcomes and better lives for more and more. In short, the Greater Good.”

The above sentence can be shortened by folding (to keep only the bolded words) to read:
The “Invisible Hand” of the Supply-Demand needs to be made to consider & determine the Greater Good.

Now please read the second part of [6] starting from “Let’s jump to a 10, 20 or 100 years in the future…” till the end.

I have opened a new topic, where I’ve posted the earlier mentioned pending draft of my ideas regarding work, money etc. I realized I was actually trying to define “Humane” all this while (by talking about humane work, humane systems etc.)

To philosophize a bit, let’s conceptualize 3 phases of human history.

Phase 1. People lived in tribes. There was no money. Work just meant doing whatever was needed to be done so the tribe could survive and thrive. Work wasn’t good or bad, it was just necessary. While there was no strict accounting of individual contributions, the stronger contributors did gain stature and reputation within the tribe.

Phase 2. Money is created as an artificial tool to account for the contributions of individuals. Many of the assumptions from Phase 1 were carried over, including that the work to be done should be that which is beneficial to society. Hence, work is considered virtuous.

Phase 3. Smart and powerful people figure out how to game the system in such a way that they can make a lot of money doing things that have a net negative effect on society. Because these games had not been fully exploited in prior phases, the profits of full exploitation of this new approach are enormous. And the masses go along with it because they get paid more when they take jobs that support these schemes.

The suggestion here is that these 3 phases incorporate different kinds of logic. What makes sense in one phase might not make sense in another. So the assertions one makes about how things work and why, and the nature of people, might work within the context of one phase while not being applicable across phases.

I think what’s bugging people is that the logic of Phase 3 doesn’t include the requirement that people care about people. Phase 3 is an experiment in seeing what’s possible when we relax that requirement. The 21st century is where this has become the dominant paradigm (even though the same experiment was being carried out on a smaller scale for centuries).

This isn’t to say that Phase 1 and 2 were a bed of roses. In Phase 1, if your tribe didn’t have a competent medicine man and you got a severe illness, you were basically out of luck. No health care for you. In Phase 2, we had some happy accidents, like Henry Ford deciding to pay his workers a decent wage (so they could afford to buy cars), and America emerging from WW2 relatively unscathed, unleashing a productivity boom in which middle-class workers were treated better than in earlier (think “Dickensian”) periods of this phase.

I will continue at the “defining Humane” thread.

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“Work” is a set of actions to create “Value”. Who creates the “Value”, for whom, and in doing so, is “Value” destroyed for someone? --This question can be fairly applied to all 3 phases.

If we were to time-travel and talk about this to people, yes they would present differing attitudes and conceptions. For ideas on good and bad, Phase 1 would appeal to Nature - sun, rain, animals, plants etc., Phase 2 to human-defined ideas of God & religions and Phase 3 to money, utilitarianism, free-market economy etc. But basically, we can decide “Work or Anti-Work” by considering the “Value” created and destroyed, in all phases.

It seems we have created structures that reduce (or seem to, anyways) our dependency on other people. Engineering point of view is, people are unreliable, machines/computers are precise, so let’s optimize for reliability by automating as much as possible. But when tech applications enter the space of judgement, ethics, values, “reliability” of machine logic seems to take a backseat: it is hard to teach machines emotions, conscience, but this is present in people, yet we are saying “keep automating as much as possible” - revealing that the optimization was primarily for low costs, higher profits - reliability was a convenient side-effect, good for advertising the idea that the logical world of engineering can solve all of humanity’s problems.

We need humanity in order to solve humanity’s problems.


Link where Hans continues: On the problem of defining "Humane"