Manna

Updated: August 16, 2022
Tags:sci-fi

Marshall Brain takes you on a step-by-step walk through the robotic transition, the resulting collapse of the human job market, and a surprising look at the future of humanity in a post-robotic world.

Favorite quotes from the book:

The basic idea was to break every job down into a series of steps that Manna could manage. No one had ever realized it before, but just about every job had parts that could be subdivided out.

The government had finally figured out that giving choices to people on welfare was not such a great idea, and it was also expensive. Instead of giving people a welfare check, they started putting welfare recipients directly into government housing and serving them meals in a cafeteria. If the government could drive the cost of that housing and food down, it minimized the amount of money they had to spend per welfare recipient.

"The robots won't let you walk away because, if they did, you would end up as a homeless person on some city street. Without a job, you are by default homeless in the American economy. None of the wealthy people want to look at homeless people, so you are warehoused here and forced to stay here."

"Eric realized that ownership, in the Western sense, is the problem."

Everyone is equal - Everything is reused - Nothing is anonymous - Nothing is owned - Tell the truth - Do no harm - Obey the rules - Live your life - Better and better

What am I passionate about? What do I most enjoy doing? What have I always wanted to try but had never gotten around to? How did I want to spend my time? In what sort of environment did I enjoy living? What kind of people did I like having around me? What kinds of hobbies did I enjoy? How far did I want to take them? Were there any that I would want to do constantly for a period of time?

For the first time in my life, in other words, I was told I had nearly total freedom to do anything I could imagine. All I had to do was figure out what to imagine.

In the U.S., everyone had to work, and in most cases "work" meant doing something that a rich person wanted so that the rich person could get richer.

In an economy like that, there were all sorts of musicians who wanted to do nothing but practice, write music and perform. There were programmers who wanted to do nothing but program their own creations. There were scientists who wanted to do cutting-edge research. These people did not care about money. They simply wanted to do what they do best. Getting paid for it was a necessary evil for these folks -- they had to have a day job to pay the bills, and then when they got home from work at night they would indulge their real talents and their passions.

Thousands of scientists, engineers and designers came together and worked 18-hours-a-day to make the moon shot happen. Did they do it for the money? No. None of them became millionaires. They did it because they loved it and believed in the idea. Einstein did not create the theory of relativity for the money. The Wright Brothers did not create the airplane for the money. Creative people create for the joy of it.

One of the more interesting features of the economy from a psychological standpoint was the fact that no one had more than you did, or less, and everyone knew it. That removed entire layers of negative emotions. The fact that you could have pretty much anything you wanted, anytime you wanted it, meant that you placed far less importance on material things. You would expect that, given essentially free access to everything, people would go nuts. Actually, the opposite happened. Suddenly there was no condition of "want" or "envy," so people had no need to show off.

This will sound surprising, but one of the bigger differences was the lack of advertising. The robots did not care whether you bought one style of clothing or another, ate in one restaurant or another, lived in one kind of housing or another... It was all the same to them. Therefore, there was no need for advertising. If a fad caught on -- whether it was a song, a book, a style, a pair of shoes, a restaurant -- it all happened by word of mouth. And everyone knew that. If you tried something and it was good, you told your friends about it.

In a profit-driven society, a huge range of innovative products never saw the light of day because they could not make a profit.