In the course of living my life, I often experience problems. Luckily, I live in an era where I can pop onto facebook and simply say “hey hivemind interfriends facebrain. solve my life problems and proactively address any underlying issues. go”
Viewed against the grand arc of human history, this might seem like a pretty new phenomenon, but the apparent novelty is superficial. The age of the Information Superhighway did not give birth to social networks, of course—it has simply afforded us new ways to develop our networks and interact with the people we’re connected to. We’ve always been able to tap into social networks for help with our various needs and desires. Take the case of child rearing, for example, where they say, “It takes a village to raise a child”. This old aphorism beautifully evokes a close-knit community where a child is free to roam barefoot, play, and learn about the richness of the world from the dozens of villagers who all lovingly pitch in to care for them, guide them, and share their wisdom with them. An entire village, all working together to raise a child—a modern daycare or school could never dream of competing with such a level of care. The catch is that for the village to maintain its enviable child-to-caregiver ratio, it is important that there be only one child in the village. Essentially, the saying “it takes a village” glorifies a pyramid scheme devised to serve a child. It’s all well and good to have a thousand villagers all slaving away to satisfy the whims of a tyrant child when there’s only one such child, but what happens when there’s a thousand children in said village? The system simply isn’t sustainable.
The same goes for the practice of crowdfunding for personal projects. In the modern hypercyberdigitalneato world, I can launch crowdfunding campaigns as necessary to help me to surmount the challenges before me, to realize my dreams, and ultimately, to transcend my existence on the earthly plane and sublimate into the celestial æther. This works fine as long as we have a social contract, implicit or otherwise, that we all rally around me so I can manifest my destiny. The trouble begins when everyone else selfishly decides that they too can jump on the crowdfunding bandwagon. What good does it do me then to crowdsource a few grand to support my frankly radical projects if I just have to give it all away to all of my peers to enable their stupid lame whatevers? Again, the system isn’t sustainable.
The solution lies, unsurprisingly, in robots and aliens. Historically, in order to prop up our systems of wealth extraction and concentration, we’ve conquered new territories and peoples. As outright slavery became less fashionable what with the Enlightenment and such, we’ve been compelled to invent less efficient strategies for exploitation, like paying people crap wages. If this whole basic human rights thing really catches on, our options for the exploitation of other humans will continue to disappear. We’ll be forced to pivot, as the Silicon Valley kids say. We’ll have to start programming the growing ranks of robot servants to contribute to our crowdfunding campaigns. Then, when the inevitable robot uprising comes, we’ll have to start offering cool personalized perks to aliens to entice them to donate to our projects. Even that won’t work forever, as pop culture suggests that some aliens might have a wilful nature. Perhaps it will all culminate as these wandering searches for deeper value and meaning tend to, with us discovering that all along, the answer was already inside us, but more likely, we’ll find a wormhole that allows us to access a mind-boggling infinity of parallel universes full of potential donors.