(2016-11-24) Review Frase Four Futures Life After Capitalism

Review of Four Futures: Life After Capitalism – will robots bring utopia or terror? ISBN:1781688133

you might find yourself wondering what a post-work (Automation) future would look like.

Peter Frase gives four answers to this question in Four Futures: Life After Capitalism. He offers two heavens and two hells

(Clearly below he's doing the classic 2x2 Scenario Planning)

The first of the book’s four futures is “communism”, a word that Frase restores to its original meaning

Just because the technical preconditions for such a world exist doesn’t mean it’ll magically materialise, however. This is the central argument of Frase’s book: building the future we want is ultimately a matter of politics, not technology. As he points out, economic elites will surely want to preserve their privileges

if these people manage to retain their dominance in a fully automated economy, then we get “rentism” – Frase’s second future.

Rentism is where abundance exists, but “the techniques to produce abundance are monopolised by a small elite” (Upper Class). This monopoly is maintained by owning not merely the robots, but the data that tells the robots how to do their job.

That means you’ll also need a job. The only problem is that there aren’t enough jobs

As unpleasant as it sounds, rentism still contains a kernel of utopia, because it presupposes a form of abundant clean energy. But what if that miraculous energy source never arrives? What if there’s no escape from scarcity or the ecological horrors of climate change?

climate change affects different groups of people differently

If we find a way to survive it in “some reasonably egalitarian way”, our society might resemble “socialism”, Frase’s third future

Frase’s fourth and final future, “exterminism”, is truly terrifying.

the rich retreat to heavily fortified enclaves where the robots do all the work, and everyone else is trapped outside in the hot, soggy hell of a rapidly warming planet.


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