Manna Two Visions Of Humanitys Future

Two Visions of Humanity's Future by Marshall Brain


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=== Excerpts ===

it was simply a PC sitting in the back corner of the restaurant running a piece of software. The software was called "Manna", version 1.0.

Manna was connected to the cash registers, so it knew how many people were flowing through the restaurant.

Manna also had "help buttons" throughout the restaurant. Small signs on the buttons told customers to push them if they needed help or saw a problem.

Manna kept track of the hundreds of tasks that needed to get done, and assigned each task to an employee one at a time.

Manna told employees what to do simply by talking to them. Employees each put on a headset when they punched in.

software told them precisely what to do step by step.

You could go through the whole day on autopilot,

The first few minutes off the headset were always disorienting -- there had been this voice in your head telling you exactly what to do in minute detail for six or eight hours. You had to turn your brain back on

"Good Lord, you are nothing but a piece of a Robot.

robots did not replace all of the burger flipping employees as everyone had expected. The robots replaced Middle Management

It was when all of these new Manna systems began talking to each other that things started to get uncomfortable. (Monopoly)

I never see another employee the entire day. The way it makes me walk, I never run into anyone else.

In version 3.0, the software gained the ability to fire employees as well.

By version 4.0, Manna gained the ability to outsource.

When Manna made the decision to repaint the stripes in the parking lot, it would call several companies and get bids. Manna did not do this on the phone, obviously. It did it electronically through the Internet. By this time, most companies were hooked into the Manna network,

When an employee left a store and tried to get a new job somewhere else, any other Manna system could request the employee's performance record. If an employee had "issues" -- late, slow, disorganized, unkempt -- it became nearly impossible for that employee to get another job. (UnEmployment)

For example, Manna could call in reinforcements as it needed them. You would get a call from Manna and it would say, "Your Burger-G restaurant is experiencing unexpected customer volume. Can you help?" The word "help" meant, "Can you be here in less than 10 minutes?" You could say yes or no. The problem was that if you said "no" too many times, you got fired. And when you got fired, it meant you were blacklisted in the system.

printed schedules started to become pretty much irrelevant.

Then it started calling you to other restaurants.

When you started to work for Manna, it paid you Minimum Wage.

And then there was everyone else -- the doctors, lawyers, accountants, office workers, executives, politicians. The executives and politicians made a ton of money and they were never going to be wearing headsets.

And Manna was starting to move in on some of the White Collar work force. The basic idea was to break every job down into a series of steps that Manna could manage. No one had ever realized it before, but just about every job had parts that could be subdivided out. HMOs and hospitals, for example, were starting to put headsets on the doctors and surgeons.

A decade later I was getting out of school. I had a BA in education and a master's degree in educational administration.

The thing that held robots back was vision.

As it turned out, the transition to robotic planes was remarkably easy.

An airplane did not need a vision system -- its "vision" was radar, and radar had been around for more than half a century.

The first breakthrough in true computer vision came from a university.

Within a year they had two demonstration projects that got a lot of media attention. The first was an autonomous humanoid robot

The second was a car that could drive itself (Driverless Car)

By combining the walking robot and the self-driving car, the researchers demonstrated a completely robotic delivery system for a pizza restaurant. (Pizza Delivery)

Within two years, Burger-G was demonstrating and debugging a completely robotic Burger-G restaurant at the same location where they had first deployed Manna. Instead of telling human employees what to do, Manna told the robots what to do.

The effect that the robotic explosion had on the employment landscape was startling.

Terrafoam was a super-low-cost building material, and all of the Welfare dorms were made out of it.

The government had finally figured out that giving choices

to people on welfare was not such a great idea, and it was also expensive. Instead of giving people a welfare check, they started putting welfare recipients directly into government housing and serving them meals in a cafeteria.

There were no windows anywhere in the building.

At that density, they could house every welfare recipient in the entire country in less than 1,500 of these buildings.

That was how you ended up in Terrafoam. The system knew you had no means of support, so it "gave" you one.

You could leave terrafoam once you regained a means of support, but there really was no way to do that unless Manna gave it to you.

You could walk outside wherever and whenever you wanted to. But there was an invisible edge. When you walked too far away from your building and approached that edge, two robots would approach you.

There were a hundred reasons the robots gave for making you turn around.

If you made any move in any direction other than the one suggested, you were immediately injected and woke up back in your room.

If society had been designed for it somehow, we could all be on vacation instead of on welfare.

On the cover it said, "Australia Project Catalog", with a picture of a happy group of people on the beach,

The terrafoam robots won't let us bring anything metal or electronic into the terrafoam system, so this is the best thing we have to show you what the Australia Project is about."

"The Australia Project is what we call a fourth generation civilization.

In your case, in America, robots created a massive concentration of wealth (Wealth Inequality) that, eventually, imprisoned millions of people."

"The Australia Project was born specifically to solve these problems and create a new form of human civilization. It is a fourth generation civilization conceived of by Eric Renson.

He could envision what Manna, combined with the coming robots, would mean to America and Western Civilization as a whole." "He at first tried to fight it, but realized that was impossible. Instead, he eventually came up with a completely new way to think about human societies.

He took the Open Source model of free software, added the robots and brought the model to the material world.

As long as you have smart robots, along with energy and free resources, everything is free."

Eric used the corporate ownership model to create a civilization that accomplishes his goals." "Eric formed a corporation called 4GC, Inc. He sold shares in this corporation for $1,000 each to one billion people.

"With that money, he started to build his new civilization. The first thing he needed was land -- resources. He approached several governments, and eventually formed a partnership with the government of Australia.

the citizens of Australia decided to merge with the project.

"Eric also started with several core principles that govern life for people living in the Australia Project. One of those principles, as I mentioned, is that everyone is equal.

Another is complete recyclability.

"Another one of Eric's core principles is that no one owns anything.

"Another core principle is that nothing is anonymous.

"There is minimal crime,"

The legal system is set up to detect and correct harm automatically. Re-education is usually all the discipline

You get a thousand credits every week and you can spend them in any way you like. (Basic Income)

The Australia Project is powered mostly by the sun and the wind,

Robots take recycled resources, add energy and robotic labor and make new robots.

"Many people don't spend a thousand credits." she said. "If you are working on a project you might, but that's about it."

What's the other catch?" "You have to agree to the core principles."

  • Everyone is equal
  • Everything is reused
  • Nothing is anonymous
  • Nothing is owned
  • Tell the truth
  • Do no harm
  • Obey the rules
  • Live your life
  • Better and better

"Those are the space elevators,"

There's even an orbiting hotel

I learned that we would be living here for six weeks during the orientation process. I learned that currently about 400,000 new residents were arriving in Australia every day.

Heaven was different for different people, so your task was to define heaven for yourself and make it happen. As long as your view of heaven did not unduly impinge on anyone else's view, or require that you consume massive amounts of resources at the expense of someone else, you could bring your version of heaven to reality for yourself.

He was the best motivational speaker I had ever heard. He asked us to think about a set of basic, personal questions.

Some people on a cruise ship like this would want to spend their time lying by the pool tanning and sipping margaritas. They are free to do that.

Anyone with creativity would start creating.

Millions of people had said that they would gladly take a trip to a weightless hotel in orbit, and they were willing to contribute their credits up front to make it possible. With the credits available, the robots allocated the resources for research and design. (Crowd Funding)

"The Vertebrane system lets me access the entire information network here in the Australia project. (Cyborg)

What's the biggest problem with screens?" Linda asked. "I don't know. What, they are never big enough?"

what if you painted the image right onto the retina?"

What if you tapped right into the optic nerves?

But we actually put shunts into every nerve pathway heading to the brain. And we do that whether it is a sensory nerve fiber heading toward the brain or a muscle control fiber heading out." She explained.

"For the spinal cord, what they do is they replace three of the upper cervical vertebrae in your spine.

To call her, I just think through it to connect. Then it is just like we are talking to each other normally. I hear her voice as though it is in my ear. What's happening is that when she thinks about talking, the Vertebrane system intercepts the signals and sends them to the network wirelessly.

"Another thing that Vertebrane can do is translate for you.

"Right. I simply ask the system where I am supposed to be for the flight, and when. In my interface, the way the system tells me where to go is by painting big arrows on the walls. No one else can see them,

"Yes I do. Let me be very clear on this -- this is not Manna, or anything close to it. There is a huge difference between Vertebrane and Manna.

But all the new movies are immersive now. You not only see the scenes, but you also taste, touch and feel them. You are completely immersed in the movie. Many of these movies are interactive,

Basically your entire sensory feed, along with all your muscle actions, get recorded every minute of every day. Then if you want to go back and relive something, you can.

"The refs are robots. They watch your sensory feed as it is coming in and look for rule violations.

The ref would shut down the person with the bat."

What you do is disconnect your brain from sensory input and watch a movie or talk to people or handle mail or read a book or whatever for an hour. During that time, the Vertebrane system exercises your body for you.

So your body is essentially a robot. Is that right?" I asked. "Yes, that's right. Your Vertebrane system is driving your body. Meanwhile your brain is off doing whatever."

It's against the rules to have Vertebrane drive your body like that when you are with someone else.

"What's to stop someone from taking over the system and turning us into an army of zombies?"

This will sound surprising, but one of the bigger differences was the lack of advertising.

I had never really thought of innovation as a part of society.

One of the more surprising divisions in the society was the difference between the Vites and the Peas.

The big news in the Vite community was "Vite racks". For a Vite, the human body was a distraction more than anything else. Vite racks gave Vites the chance to discard their bodies. The brain was all that remained, and it consumed just 2.5 liters of space on a rack.

I settled on a lifestyle that surprised me. There was a community set up to mimic many of the features of the original town of Williamsburg. *

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