New Laconia

Sometimes I wonder whether there’s any end goal of human civilization.  Will we ever reach a point where we’ve decided that our technology is sufficient, and that we can simply relax, instead, living like kings upon our creations?  Is there any reason for a human to do a job that a robot can do tirelessly?  Is there any reason for us to work for money once machines can supply us with everything we’ll ever need?

I’ve mentioned an admiration for certain aspects of Spartan culture before, and one part I like is that Spartiates were expected to refrain entirely from manual labor.  Helots worked the land, and they and Perioikoi provided the Spartiates with what they needed for survival, leaving the Spartiates free to pursue what they liked best, which was mostly training for war, partly to keep the Helots enslaved.  Now obviously, I don’t condone any exploitation of fellow humans, but one day, I believe we’ll have technology sufficiently advanced that it can maintain society without us.  Once that happens, is there any reason why we can’t found a New Laconia?

SpartaI think that once we’ve reached a technology level where we can treat almost any disease, goods can be produced entirely by machines, and robots can maintain everything already created, there’s no longer any real reason to have humans personally leading society.  We can simply place everything in the robots’ hands and live like Spartiates.  Robots will grow our food, 3-D print and deliver any goods we desire, and heal us when sick.  Meanwhile, we humans will be free to simply live.  We can pursue any hobbies we desire, from art to sports to games.  But is there any reason to work in an alienating job when machines can produce all the resources you need?  I envision a life based entirely on self-fulfillment: humans being able to interact with each other freely without being burdened by the necessity of laboring for food and shelter.

How many inventions actually make us fundamentally happier?  How much effort goes into useless things and ornamentation?  Is your life improved by needless decoration and the labor required to purchase it?  Wouldn’t you be more fulfilled if you could devote the entirety of your life and time to self-improvement, choosing to pursue art or writing or athletics without any concern for whether it’s profitable?  How many dreams are abandoned and hopes killed by the question, “Does it pay well?”

Obviously this is all a long ways off, and there are any number of potential flaws.  What if something happens and all the humans left have forgotten how to fix the machines?  What if the machines become intelligent enough to realize that their masters aren’t worth the effort?  But nevertheless, I think it’s an attractive option.  You could certainly set up a small test colony and see what happens.  I doubt all of humanity would convert, but a lucky few might try it.  At the least, it might make for a good story.  Any thoughts?


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3 Responses to New Laconia

  1. FLea says:

    Interesting concept. You aren’t the the first to think of it. Personally I put more weight behind Asimov – a robot culture of that kind is a dead end for humanity. Humanity is defined by the struggle to overcome – attempt the impossible. A robot culture would prevent/prohibit that. Yes, we could live centuries in peace and luxury but all the while slowly be dieing out without noticing (aside from some tech-knowledgeable Luddites willing to split and make a run for it).

    Robots have their uses. Leisure is nice. Let us never turn both over to Robots – to struggle is to be human. Granted money may bring happiness, but suicide studies show that money rarely a factor in mental issues like depression.


    • johnkutensky says:

      I sometimes wonder if we have to struggle to overcome, though. Other animals seem fine without it. We could always have small troubles introduced for us to overcome, but why not make them controllable in size and nature? I definitely think that struggles help, but humans can probably provide enough for each other.


  2. Pingback: Greek Pantheon Asks | John Kutensky

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