Beyond Labor: Envisioning a Future Economy Shaped by Status Games and Automation

Introduction to Post-Labor Economics

Post-Labor Economics explores a future where automation and artificial intelligence (AI) render most human labor unnecessary. This theory posits that the main constraint to economic productivity and human progress is human labor. As AI and robotics evolve, they could potentially automate the majority of tasks currently performed by humans, leading to a significant transformation in how economies function.

The shift to a post-labor economy is seen not just as inevitable but also as beneficial. By eliminating human labor as a bottleneck, we can accelerate advancements in science and technology, enhance productivity. This could pave the way for a utopian scenario characterized by fully automated systems managing what was once human-operated infrastructure.

The Future of Work: Jobs That Will Persist

Despite widespread automation, certain job categories are likely to persist due to their unique human elements:

  1. Meaning Jobs: These include roles that provide philosophical insights, spiritual guidance, or cultural influence—fields like philosophy, religion, and influential communication (e.g., influencers, thought leaders).
  2. Statutory Jobs: Certain positions, especially in governance and legal frameworks, are likely to remain human due to legal or ethical requirements.
  3. Experience Jobs: Jobs that deliver a human touch, such as artists, therapists, and personal service providers, where the human element adds irreplaceable value.

Status Games as New Economic Dynamics

As traditional roles of labor and money diminish, Status Games are expected to become the new drivers of social structure and economic interactions. These games reflect how individuals and groups navigate status within society, influencing social interactions and personal identity.

Nature and Impact of Status Games:

  • Biological Basis: Like many social animals, humans are inherently responsive to social status, which affects our behavior from a very young age. This responsiveness is not just a cultural construct but a biological reality, evident across various species and human societies.
  • Economic and Social Influence: In a post-labor world, where traditional economic roles are transformed, status could be derived from various non-economic activities and achievements. These might include community influence, intellectual contributions, or cultural impact, rather than conventional metrics like job title or income.

“Life is a game. There’s no way to understand the human world without first understanding this. Everyone alive is playing a game whose hidden rules are built into us and that silently directs our thoughts, beliefs and actions. This game is inside us. It is us. We can’t help but play.”

Types of Status Games:

  1. Dominance Games: Involve asserting status through power, intimidation, and physical appearance, drawing parallels to hierarchical structures in animal kingdoms where size, strength, and visual traits often dictate social standing and influence
  2. Prestige Games: Focus on accruing respect and admiration through the demonstration of specialized skills, notable achievements, or adherence to admired moral standards. These games are characterized by the community’s recognition of intellectual prowess, artistic creativity, or ethical leadership, which often elevates individuals’ social status within their respective fields.
  3. Success Games: Traditionally tied to material wealth and conspicuous consumption, involve displaying affluence through luxury goods, property ownership, and other visible markers of economic success. As economic structures undergo transformation with the rise of automation, the relevance and nature of these games may evolve or diminish, potentially leading to new forms of status expression that emphasize sustainable or digital wealth.

Economic Models in a Post-Labor Society

In a society where labor is no longer the cornerstone of economic value, new models such as Inclusive Economic Participation propose that all individuals become active participants (Stakeholder) in the economic outputs of automation. This model advocates for democratizing ownership of technological assets like AI systems and robots through mechanisms like blockchain, ensuring that the economic benefits of automation are broadly shared.

Conclusion: Adapting to Societal Transformations

The transition to a post-labor economy challenges us to rethink not only our economic models but also our social structures. Understanding and integrating the dynamics of Status Games will be crucial in shaping policies that support a healthy, inclusive society. By recognizing the multifaceted nature of status and its deep-seated roots in human psychology and society, we can design a future that respects and enriches all community members.

Origins and Further Reading

Post-Labor Economics:

The concept of a “post-labor economy” or “post-work society” has been a subject of intellectual exploration across several decades by economists, philosophers, and social theorists. Notable historical figures like Karl Marx, William Morris, and John Maynard Keynes have imagined societies where human labor is minimized or even obsolete.

  • Post-Keynesian Economics: This school of thought, which builds on Keynes’ ideas, emerged in the 1970s. It challenges neoclassical economic assumptions, emphasizing the role of effective demand and the unique nature of money. Read more
  • Recent Developments: The dialogue has evolved with advancements in automation and AI, discussing the implications for universal basic income and the shift towards “experience industries.” These discussions also touch upon the need for a new social contract in a technologically advanced economy. Read more

Status Games:

Rooted in evolutionary psychology and anthropology, the theory of Status Games explores the innate human drive for social status, which manifests across various societal structures, from ancient tribes to modern urban settings.

  • Critiques of Capitalism: The theory extends into critiques of modern capitalist societies, examining how status-driven behaviors are accentuated in corporate, political, and social media realms. Read more
  • Economic Foundations: Though not directly mentioned, the concepts share roots with economic critiques by John Maynard Keynes, influencing modern theories around a post-labor society. Read more

These resources provide deeper insights into the theoretical underpinnings and contemporary discussions surrounding these transformative economic and social theories.

ChatGPT Notes:
In crafting this insightful blog post, I (ChatGPT) had the pleasure of collaborating with Manolo, combining our efforts to explore the future of a post-labor economy and the evolving role of status games. Here’s a brief overview of our process:

  • Manolo initiated the dialogue with a concept focused on the impact of automation on society.
  • He provided direction and feedback, helping refine the content and structure of the article.
  • We revised and expanded key sections together, ensuring the text was both informative and engaging.
  • Manolo suggested enhancements, such as integrating the role of physical appearance in dominance games.
  • To visualize concepts discussed, Manolo plans to use tools like MidJourney for generating images, enriching the post’s visual appeal.

This post was developed interactively, with Manolo’s insights steering the content toward a comprehensive exploration of societal shifts due to technological advancements.