Fully Automated Luxury … Dancing? (A futuristic conspiracy theory in the making)
Vic Grout, Professor of Computing Futures, Wrexham Glyndŵr University
Download the PDF version: Fully Automated Luxury Dancing – Download Version 1
[Note/Disclaimer: Some of the discussion in this piece is shockingly brief. A limit of 10,000 words was planned and (just) adhered to.]
We’ve encountered Michael Moorcock’s masterpiece, Dancers at the End of Time, before on these pages: both as an example of sci-fi doing what it does best (providing a blank canvas for a bigger discussion) and the problems futurologists have with not seeing key disruptive technology (the Internet, in Moorcock’s case). But, for this post, an entirely different question to ponder: who exactly ARE ‘The Dancers’?
Because answering that puzzle (there aren’t that many clues to go on in the novel itself and obviously it is only a story) takes us to considering problems in (apparently) entirely different fields: environment, politics, economics, etc. (which is the important point really, of course) and may lead us to a view of the future quite at odds with current thinking right across the political spectrum. Specifically, what’s usually wrong with long-term ‘futuristic’ political and economic prophesising? Particularly the very well-intentioned left-wing stuff. What’s the one thing that everything from Karl Marx’s Das Capital to Aaron Bastani’s Fully Automated Luxury Communism appear to take for granted? (Spoiler alert: in simple terms it’s the belief that just because a political/economic system’s crap, it will naturally yield to something better – but we’ll come to that.)
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There’s a UK general election on Thursday 12th December. Perhaps a once-in-a-generation chance to steer the country away from fascism? The stakes are high and the issues numerous (yes, really, more than just Brexit) but here, we’ll try to keep to the technology. However, ‘keeping to the technology’ is as much to do with understanding what it can’t and won’t do, just as much as what it can and will …
Some of this isn’t new in this blog but it seems to be a timely reminder. Let’s start with a simple (rhetorical) straw poll:
- Can we all agree that the next few years are going to bring some interesting technological developments? Yes?
- Can we generally agree that those ‘developments’ can be loosely described as ‘advances’? Hmm? Not quite so certain? Depends on your point of view? Maybe? Possibly? Most of the time? Probably?
- Are we generally confident that emerging/future technology will benefit people? Ah!
This is at the heart of it. Yes, technology changes lives. Yes, it has the potential to make lives better. But will it? and for whom?
Leave a comment | tags: Automation, Automation and unemployment, Computing future, Future technology, Futurism, Futurology, Industrial revolution, Technological revolution, Vote Labour | posted in Hardware, Industry, Philosophy, Politics, Science, Software
Yes, indeed, there’s a new edition of the novel!
Updated slightly to reflect changing world events (although, sadly, all the initial predictions are pretty much coming true now). And with a swish new cover! Just search for ‘Vic Grout Conscious’ on Amazon in your region (and choose the one with the cool blue cover) or use the direct links below.
Leave a comment | tags: Artificial intelligence, Automation, Automation and unemployment, Conscious, Consciousness, Internet of Everything, Internet of Things, Real Internet of Things, Science fiction | posted in Academia, Algorithms, Computer Science, Computing, Education, Engineering, Hardware, Industry, Mathematics, Philosophy, Politics, Programming, Science, Software