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.)
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.
The , er …, somewhat ‘unexpected political events’ of 2016 have meant that a few points of detail in the book have had to be rewritten! But there’s good news too …
Some, shall we say, not-entirely-predicted elections and other votes have produced a second edition rather earlier than expected! The storyline’s entirely unaltered and the changes in detail aren’t huge either but were necessary for global consistency. However, this has now also allowed Amazon’s direct publishing service to be used, resulting in significantly lower costs for both the paperback and Kindle edition. These cheaper, more up-to-date options can now be downloaded/ordered from:
Full details of all editions and formats can still be seen in The Book.
If our privacy is going out of the window anyway, let’s go the whole hog! Why let the Big Data/Internet of Things future be a plethora of individual apps/processes when it could be just a simple ‘global identity’ for each of us? [‘tongue-in-cheek mode’ enabled]
Let’s concoct a future scenario (extended from a passage in the book) to work with … You’re out for an urban stroll. You buy a bottle of orange juice along your way, and drink it as you’re walking. Half a mile down the road, you throw the empty bottle in a bin. Not that inspiring? OK, let’s IoT/big data it up a bit …
Your exercise is being monitored as you walk. When you buy the bottle, the cost is automatically debited from your bank account. Also the juice’s nutritional information is fed into your fitness tracker along with your steps. At the same time, the juice/bottle’s carbon penalty is added to your personal carbon footprint. If you dispose of the empty bottle in an approved recycling bin, some of that carbon penalty is credited back to you. The balance is your carbon tax to pay, although this is mitigated by an adjustment against your health tax: calculated from your fitness tracker’s juice and steps data. The net cost is also taken directly from your bank.
So, how might that all work?