Todd William

A Brief Thought Experiment ~ The Island


What would you do to Survive?
If you found yourself on a deserted island, with no hope of being found, what might be your biggest priorities. If you chose to live, it would no doubt be water and food, followed by some sort of shelter.

Once you've established these, ensuring your safety and health would soon follow. And should those needs be met, you could then get to work on improving the quality of your life, for starters, making all the prior efforts as minimal as possible.

The less time you have to waste gathering food, repairing your shelter, or running from danger, the more time you have to spend doing whatever you would like to do.

Reality

But this is considerably different than ordinary life. For one, we have different objectives. We don't merely eat food to live, we live to eat good foods. We don't just care about shelter, we care about curb appeal

Our everyday needs are so easily met that almost all our focus and concerns are directed toward things that are not essential to life, they are just creature comforts. We are very fortunate to live in a time period when we can concern ourselves mostly with how we want to improve our lives, not with merely maintaining that life.

We have no reason to apologize for this. We don't live on a deserted island, and improving our quality of life has value. That we've reached a point where most of our daily efforts are put towards creature comforts rather than necessities is a fine tribute to human ingenuity. Yet the implications of this are easily overlooked.

Jobs

Most jobs are about the icing on the cake. Once you move beyond things that involve food, water, housing, safety, and health, the necessity of any job begins to quickly fall into the that grey area where usefulness is purely subjective.

The point isn't that these jobs aren't worthwhile, its that we're addicted to the icing, and we should be. Why not improve our lives. But this addiction keeps us blind to the possibilities. 

Technology

We've reached a point when we can realistically discus the possibility that technology may be able to replace most jobs. This is a scary notion. Yet maybe it shouldn't be. 

If the use of technology permits us to produce all of life's essentials with negligible manual effort, then all jobs would be related to icing. Any job losses related to technology would merely determine the amount of icing any of us would share.

There would no doubt be disparity, but in exchange, the notion of working to "get by" would be gone. Life would suddenly be merely a matter of how you decide to use your time - and that has more to do with imagination than circumstance.

This is a hard concept to fathom because we're so accustomed to assessing the value of our lives by comparing what we possess relative to those around us.

But isn't more appealing to judge the value of life by the amount of quality time we have as our disposal? That is the great equalizer. No matter how much power, wealth, or influence you have, you're still getting the same 24 hours a day that we all get.

The Island

We don't live on an isolated island, but we do live on an isolated planet. Maybe its not so different after all, we just need to get over our addiction.


Consider for a moment what it would mean if you no longer felt compelled to always have more . If food, water, shelter, health, and safety we're all guaranteed to you, might you look at your job differently? Would you feel a bit more selective on how you use your time?




Todd William

About Todd William -

My name is Todd William and I’m an indie author. I like to focus on the positives in life. I’m like kryptonite for cynics. I’m a dedicated father and husband, a science and tech buff, a psychology enthusiast, chess and MMA fanatic, and noble introvert. My biggest fault might just be that I’m annoyingly happy all the time.

I’m addicted to books. I read constantly on a variety of topics, the result being that I tend to know a little about a lot of things yet not a whole lot about any one thing. I lay no claim to superior wisdom. I merely have an unyielding appetite for knowledge coupled with a strong desire to contemplate intriguing thoughts.

2 comments

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Steve
AUTHOR
December 15, 2017 at 12:36 PM delete

Humans as a species only really thrive when there are intellectual and practical challenges. If automation dealt with all the work and other active processes then humans would rapidly become decadent. They would end up as the Eloi in "The Time Machine" by H. G. Wells, merely parasitic on the efforts of automated Morlocks and would ultimately pay the price - not a pleasing thought.

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Keith
AUTHOR
December 15, 2017 at 12:54 PM delete

I appreciate this is a thought experiment. Even now many young people choose to work less and do more of what is of value to them. But this is only an option in developed westernised societies. In many areas of the world people do work to survive and survival may hang on the vagaries of, for example, the weather or crop-destroying pests. It may be a long time before automated systems can cope with these and when they can, would the want to?

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2 comments:

  1. Humans as a species only really thrive when there are intellectual and practical challenges. If automation dealt with all the work and other active processes then humans would rapidly become decadent. They would end up as the Eloi in "The Time Machine" by H. G. Wells, merely parasitic on the efforts of automated Morlocks and would ultimately pay the price - not a pleasing thought.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I appreciate this is a thought experiment. Even now many young people choose to work less and do more of what is of value to them. But this is only an option in developed westernised societies. In many areas of the world people do work to survive and survival may hang on the vagaries of, for example, the weather or crop-destroying pests. It may be a long time before automated systems can cope with these and when they can, would the want to?

    ReplyDelete