Sunday, December 22, 2013

Being truly free [with the help of Robots?]: 'Whatever You Wish' by Isaac Asimov

What the future holds: Plotting new systems of living in Vilcabamba, Ecuador
One of the interesting things about my time in South America is seeing people adopt realities that suit them. Travelers in general live lifestyles outside the norm but often times this is only a temporary endeavour. Because of its relatively low cost of living and the culture of lucha and revolution in South America, people all over the World come here to forge new lives.

A reality above the clouds
Hippies trade their wares and perform their craft. Entrepreneurs and free spirits open Hostels and eateries. Dreamers start Eco Farms and assemble intentional communities. Retirees swarm to stretch their lifesavings or get a headstart in spending it. A few people are even escaping governments they feel are on a downward slide.

You can't help but ponder what it would be like if everyone had the means to create their ideal future. If everyone had the time, money and access to pursue their longheld dreams. Whilst in Quito, Ecuador crashing with a lovely couple and their newborn I read 'Robot Visions' by Isaac Asimov. A collection of short stories and essays envisioning our possible future with Robots. It provided an insight into what that utopia might look like:

Will future generations live in a Utopia made possible by Robots?
'Whatever You Wish' by Isaac Asimov
What about the majority of the human species in this automated future? What about those who don't have the ability or the desire to work at the professions of the future—or for whom there is no room in those professions? It may be that most people will have nothing to do of what we think of as work nowadays.

This could be a frightening thought. What will people do without work? Won't they sit around and be bored; or worse, become unstable or even vicious? The saying is that Satan finds mischief still for idle hands to do.

But we judge from the situation that has existed till now, a situation in which people are left to themselves to rot.

Consider that there have been times in history when an aristocracy lived in idleness off the backs of flesh-and-blood machines called slaves or serfs or peasants. When such a situation was combined with a high culture, however, aristocrats used their leisure to become educated in literature, the arts, and philosophy. Such studies were not useful for work, but they occupied the mind, made for interesting conversation and an enjoyable life.