I don’t think I agree that societal structures follow capabilities and not wants. I’ll agree that certain advancements in capability (long term food storage, agriculture, gunpowder, steam engines, wireless communication, etc.) can have dramatic effects on society and how it can arrange itself, but all the changes are driven by people utilizing these new capabilities to further themselves and/or their community.
The idea of scarcity in the present is a great example of this. The world currently produces so much food that about a third of it is thrown away before even being sold, more than enough to feed all those who go hungry. There are orders of magnitude more empty houses in North America than there are homeless people, not even counting apartments or hotel rooms. We don’t live in a time of scarcity, we live in a time of overproduction. People don’t go hungry or homeless because we don’t have enough production capacity to feed or house them and maintain everyone else’s quality of life, but because it would be less profitable to do so. “To each according to their needs” is feasible right now without AI or even expanding production capacity, it’s simply not incentivized.
I agree with your point that aligning incentives with well-being rather than profit is possible when we produce enough, I just see that we disagree whether or not we do actually produce enough currently.
I’d love if you could point me to any resources indicating that scarcity of necessities is currently natural instead of manufactured, or if you could expand further upon your first point about capability being the primary force driving societal change. Thanks for your response.
I agree with your analysis of the current situation. However, the technological issues arise when trying to correct it without severe unintended consequences, and that is not related to profit. You can’t transplant a house easily. You cannot easily feed only those who go hungry without affecting the economy (food banks help to some degree). There are people in need of companionship that cannot find it, even though there is a companion that would match somewhere out there. There are potential technological solutions to all those that are way outside our abilities (teleportation! replication! telepathy!) that would solve these issues. You can also probably find a few examples where what looks like profit-based incentive is in fact a technological deficiency.
1/ evidence for these statements?
2/ in what sense is it profitable to throw away food or maintain empty dwellings that is distinct from “maintaining everyone else’s quality of life”?
3/ if the evil is that some people’s needs are not valued enough could that not be remedied by giving them money and making it profitable to meet their needs?