KMO is packing up to fly to LA for Politicon 2018. It's likely to be the scene of street battles between Antifa and Proud Boys; a glorious spectacle of ideologically-induced insanity. And stuff about AI, UBI, and figuring out whether the purpose of civilization is to create the conditions for the virtuous to make a fortune or to help all humans live decent lives.
KMO and Charles Hugh Smith continue the discussion of Universal Basic Income that started in C-Realm Podcast 522. The "tax the robots to fund UBI" narrative takes for granted that current corporate profits, the things that would actually be taxed, are sustainable in the first place. This view doesn't take into account that corporations use all manner of unacceptable and unsustainable gimmicks to maintain their pricing power in an environment in which commoditized products and production processes continually erode profitability. The UBI fantasy doesn't take into account the tendency of the rate of profit to fall (as the Marxists say). Later, KMO askes Charles if it might be best to just accept UBI because it will accelerate the unraveling of the current economic order.
Charles Hugh Smith is a critic of the idea of UBI (universal basic income), but in order to understand his critique it is necessary to take a deep dive into the nature of work. Any simple formulation of what constitutes work will either over-generalize and capture too much, or it will leave out certain activities which are necessary for the functioning of a healthy society and which create benefits for people other than the one engaged in the activity but which do not generate a profit and so are often unpaid. KMO and Charles Hugh Smith talk about work, leisure, commodification and the effects of information technology and machine intelligence on how we all participate in the web of exchanges and interactions we call "the economy."
Facebook and other apps are designed to capture and hold our attention, but the experience it produces, while compelling, can be far from pleasant. Some people get paid to create content, but social media companies depend on users to create content for free, content which is essential to the platforms' business model. Users aren't paid for the content they create, but the prevailing wisdom is that the platform provides value to the content creators in the form of a means by which to create an audience and connect with like-minded users and stay in touch with friends and loved ones who live far away. But is this an equal trade? Is the value of the trade the only thing that keeps us coming back to social media? KMO reads from some insider marketing material which makes it all too clear that the app designers are using human evolutionary psychology to hack our neurology and trick us into giving away the goods for free at great personal cost to our quality of life. Later, KMO looks at the book Money and Work Unchained by Charles Hugh Smith to define the key characteristics that differentiate work from leisure. There's way more to it than getting paid.
After some listener feedback on the topic of UBI, KMO introduces listeners to Rob who just finished reading Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic. Rob provides some detailed highlights from the book which sets the stage for a conversation about the hows and the whys of the America's current drug dependence predicament. There's no easy fix, but the state of Ohio has learned a thing or two about shutting down pill mills and getting people into treatment programs. It's a start.