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I have a hundred-year plan to eliminate government.

The key to making this work is picking one element of government at a time and using technology to eliminate it. Remember, we have a hundred years to develop and test lots of little plans. So we won't permanently eliminate any part of government until citizens have seen proof it can work on a state level, or for a brief test period nationally, or in another country.

You are skeptical that technology can replace government. That sounds a little like replacing your bicycle with a Fig Newton, or replacing your couch with a bucket of water. It doesn't sound logical on the surface. I'll need some examples to make my case.

Consider education. At some point in the next hundred years the only acceptable way to educate people will be online. At some point online education will evolve and improve until you have the best instructors teaching in the best possible ways. You can get rid of the physical school buildings, the teachers, and all the rest. I think you could privatize education, with ad support, (as I described in a blog post last month) and still make it universally available. It seems feasible that government could let go of education.

What about healthcare? Healthcare diagnostic equipment will become so advanced in the next hundred years that doctors will be the weak link. A complete body scan, blood work, and Big Data will get you 98% of the diagnoses and treatments you need. Robots will be doing surgery by then, and doing it better than humans. So while the short term trend for healthcare costs is higher, I think the trend after twenty years or so will be sharply lower. And when doctor-assisted suicide is legal, which is inevitable because of demographic reasons (lots of old people begging for the option) that helps too. The point is that healthcare will get cheaper and less complicated for the consumer, so government can ease out of it. If taxes are needed to fund healthcare for the poor, that is still possible with no government beyond direct democracy connected via Internet. I'll explain that later.

How about the military? You always need a government to handle defense, right?

I don't think so, at least not in the long run. We know for sure that future armies will be a combination of waves of robot soldiers overrunning enemy positions supported by drone air support. The first country to develop a robot army (likely the U.S.) will dominate every non-nuclear country. No human army or uprising could last a day against waves of robot fighters going door-to-door through a city or mountain range. So traditional wars will simply stop happening because the U.S. will rent its robot army to whichever side it supports and almost any war will end in days. Eventually no rebel army will bother starting an unwinnable war, and no despot will try conquering a neighboring country. Robots will end conventional war.

If we imagine a future war between two non-nuclear forces, both with their own robot armies, there is no reason humans ever need to get involved. The robots can fight it out in a remote location and the country with the losing robots surrenders immediately. The losing side will know that the winning country with its superior robots could wipe out the human population in less than a day, so surrender is the only option.

My point is that wars could become obsolete. The military will become mostly hardware and software, controlled by a direct democracy. If 75% of adult citizens vote to go to war, the robots march. If the country is attacked, the robots respond automatically, but can be called back by direct democracy if needed. And citizens can watch all wars through the robot head cams. We'll always know what is going on.

You still need money for this robot army, but I'll get to that.

The government does a good job setting health and safety standards. But a direct democracy could probably pull that off too.

In a hundred years, I can see the government being replaced by software that allows citizens to raise any issue, thoroughly debate it online, and implement the new law/standard/tax all via Internet with no politicians involved. Would the new system have problems? Of course. Would it be worse than our current system with elected officials who are controlled by special interests? I doubt it.

If the country needs to raise taxes, say to build more defense robots, or provide Internet access and healthcare to the poor, that is all handled by direct democracy online. If the country agrees on a new tax, it comes automatically out of all paychecks and online payment transactions. No citizen ever needs to "do taxes" at the end of the year.

Keep in mind that the future with no government probably has much lower tax rates. Getting public agreement to go from 5% taxes to 7% won't be as big a deal as today when we try to raise rates from 39% to 45%.

Now you have the issue of social nets to care for the poor. Government has been the best bet for that so far, but I can imagine that need being reduced by technology too.

Imagine, for example, housing for the poor that is built by robots and engineered to be both highly livable and absurdly inexpensive by today's standards. If you get the cost of rent down to an equivalent of $100 per month in today's dollars, you can take a huge bite out of poverty. Combine low housing costs with universal healthcare that is free for the poor, and free online education - for everything from grade school to career training - and you have a good start for removing government from the social net business.

I can also imagine food costs plummeting within a hundred years, especially if the housing for the poor includes its own hydroponic gardens. Or perhaps we will all be growing "meat" from cells in our own homes. I don't know the details, but I can see food costs dropping for protein and veggie matter.

Now let's say there are some functions of government that simply require a human to manage. And let's say that human has a lot of opportunity for corruption. One way to fix that situation is to require that any humans with responsibility for public interests give up more privacy than the normal person, in return for an oversized salary. I think there are plenty of people who have no secrets and would enjoy the big paycheck. When privacy is eliminated, the risk of corruption goes way down.

Consider law enforcement. In the future, as I have described in other books and blog posts, getting away with committing a crime will be nearly impossible because everything that happens everywhere will be tracked and recorded. Crime will be detected as it happens, robot cops will be dispatched, and any citizen can watch both the crime and the arrest on live video.

Meanwhile, drugs and prostitution will probably become legal, so law enforcement isn't needed for that stuff. And if you speed, you'll get a ticket by email and your paycheck will be docked accordingly.

I don't have time to detail every government function and how technology might replace it in the future. But I think it's all possible. We just need to agree on that direction. And we need to test every government-replacement system on a small scale before implementing more widely. But I think we (or our grandkids) can get there.

What do you think? Could we get to a government-free future?

 

 

My new book: How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life.



 
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+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 6, 2014
I find it surprising that you have a very vivid imagination of the future, yet somehow never seem to address the future of our money system and the future of work. If you're looking at a 100-year timeline, both money and work as they are functioning right now, may be obsolete.

I read somewhere that by 2040, only 10% of the world's workforce is needed to produce the world's goods and services. I don't know how true that is, but for sure we're moving in that direction. If you add 70 more years to that, for sure we can't sustain a model where 80% of adult devote every waking hour to work, that amount of work will simply not exist.
 
 
Dec 22, 2013
The wealthy already live without government:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/2011/05/bill-walker/the-wealthy-live-without-government/
 
 
Dec 22, 2013
The future is definitely government-free... our descendants will look at us the way we look at slaveowners. And some of our ancestors will too, since there have been several successful societies that had laws and courts, but no "government" that was above the law itself:
http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Academic/Iceland/Iceland.html
 
 
Dec 21, 2013
The first thing to say here is that government won't let itself go away. The desire for power will ensure that government will continue to expand, regardless of the need for it. If you don't believe that, just take a look at how many redundant programs exist, all trying to do the same thing, all failing, and all costing way more than any one of them should.

You think people who are dependent on government are just going to give up their free ride? You think that those in government are going to give up their jobs and start to contribute in real ways to our economy? There is no chance.

Our government became tyrannical when it started to ignore the limits put on it by the Constitution. Once tyranny is in place, it is near impossible to remove.

More directly to your statement, though: who cares? None of us are going to be around in 100 years. I'm a h e l l of a lot more concerned with what government is going to be doing over the next 25 years or so than what it will be doing in 100.

Politicians exist to ensure their own power continues by enslaving their populations while telling them that it's all for their own good. Figure out a way to make government stop doing that, and we can talk about what technology may or may not be able to do.
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 20, 2013
This reminds me a lot about the Famous Horribly Slow Murderer.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VDvgL58h_Y

It's just a spoon, but it hurts like hell!!!

The secret is keep hitting and hitting: don't let the government escape.
 
 
Dec 20, 2013
I think, Scott, you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how government "works".

Government does not exist to provide services to the public. It exists to employ thousands of useless people.

Take, for example, health-care. A law was passed that was supposed to provide health-care for all. That's what they told us. But the law simply requires that everyone buy health insurance. And that some poor people will not have to pay for it. And insurance companies will be required to provide coverage for everyone.

This is NOT health-care. This is mandatory health insurance. And then government hired 10,000 useless people whose jobs are to punish people who don't buy the mandatory health insurance.

Maybe one day (maybe soon) technology will allow health-care diagnosis and treatment to be cheap and easily available. Bu there will always be thousands of government employees enforcing the rules. And none of them will be involved actually providing health-care.

And even when the technology to enforce government rules becomes completely automated, there will be still be a million government workers who monitor the drones, while playing solitaire and angry birds.
 
 
Dec 19, 2013
Software is corruptible. Not only that but the directives would be set by the corrupted, way worse as the corruption is but an instruction set carried out mercilessly by cold steel.
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 19, 2013
When surrender is the only option, genocide becomes the rule.

I see your robot army future as being very bleak for humans. When a group of people can't even make it inconvenient to have themselves destroyed, they are murdered in short order.
 
 
Dec 19, 2013
I like the idea of using test cases for changes in the government, but I don't see it going away. Here are just a few of the issues:

1) If we vote on everything, how do things get on the ballet? Can anyone put anything on the ballet at any time? Because if 200 million people are all throwing out ideas, who is going to have the time to read and vote on them? And what does it take to pass - 50 % of the voting population? Because I can guarantee that the only issues that will get enough voters behind them will be those raised or endorsed by celebrities that can give them visability. The most popular people will in essence run the county, which is a bit scary.

2) So we plan to have a robot army - who decides who builds them? Do the voters have to read proposals from vendors and pick one? Who decides how they get programmed? When do the robots use lethal force? What number of robots get deployed to a specific conflict? And who decides what software updates they get to ensure they're not hacked and turn on us?

3) A large part of the government function is ensuring laws are enforced. Do we privatize functions like the FDA? Again, who decides the private companies that do that? Do we want something like that going to the lowest bidder? And how long is their contract? Do we have to vote on contracts every 5 years?

Having a government means paying people to make those kind of decisions for us so we have time to live our own lives.
 
 
Dec 19, 2013
"And we need to test every government-replacement system on a small scale before implementing more widely."

Who will design and implement the tests, and arrive at the conclusions. The government?

A future without government? Not likely unless the robots take over.
 
 
Dec 19, 2013
You may get rid of government, but you'll never get rid of governance.
 
 
Dec 19, 2013
I, for one, welcome our new software overlords.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 19, 2013
A cheaper government is not the same as "No government". For example even though it is obvious that they will get caught, some people will be stupid enough and still will commit crime. So you still need a justice system that will judge them. Even if the prisons are fully automated, it still has a small cost. There will be less crime and so it will be a lot cheaper, but that is only a question of scaling back, not a complete elimination.
 
 
Dec 19, 2013
Scott, would you mind if I used this premise as a starting point for a novel? I could use this idea of a dystopian/utopian future, throw in an unlikely hero, a cute sidekick, the loner, a wise old mentor and a messed up father figure?

Seriously.

Thanks,
-Erich
 
 
Dec 18, 2013
A lot of evidence suggests that online learning doesn't work. Perhaps because we are using new technology with 200,000 year old brain structures.
 
 
Dec 18, 2013
You speak of online education becoming the norm, without addressing the implication that without schools and teachers, the population loses its babysitting service (which for many students, is all that our education system truly is). Consequently, a parent will now be forced to stay home to prevent their 6-year old from getting into trouble.

Similarly, you have robots taking over (low cost housing, front-line troops, surgeons, ...) a wide variety of jobs which will drive the unemployment rate thru the roof.
 
 
+11 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 18, 2013
New tech has been about to end war in our time for the last 250 years. It hasn't. The advantage may tip to defense or offense, to dinosaurian great powers or agile small powers, to armies or to insurgents, but it always tips back. Drones, for example, are extraordinarily cheap and can be made from parts you can get in any Source and plans you'll be able to download to your 3-d printer. The Government of no country will have a monopoly and private citizens will get their hands on 3-d guns that really work within a few years. War no more is an old will-o'-the-wisp that we have never caught, any more than a cat has caught a laser pointer red dot.

As for giving up governments, the services that they provide can not be provided by free markets or they would have been for centuries now. Every website is over-run by trolls, scammers, ads and ignoramuses. Do you want to be governed by any of these groups of people (or bots pretending to be people)? You are going to have a lot more of all of these long before government fades away into either a communist utopia or a libertarian one, and you won't be able to tell those two dysopias apart if they happen simultaneously.
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 18, 2013
How do you get a speeding ticket in a self-driving car?

Also, the average person is not nearly as smart as you assume; just look at some of the lunatics they elect to Congress.
 
 
Dec 18, 2013
I can get rid of government this instant by getting over the mental glitch that gives people the delusion that "government" should be involved in any of the things mentioned above. Oh, wait- I already shed that wacky religious delusion years ago.
I don't need to be governed, and neither do you, nor do I want anyone else governed on my behalf. That's so Paleolithic.
 
 
+14 Rank Up Rank Down
Dec 18, 2013
Your idea reminds me of the predictions that with the advent of computers and technology that we would be working only 20 hours a week by now.

Human nature is to always improve, and that promotes competition in any environment with scarce resources. There will always be "poor" no matter what, although the U.S.'s poor and Africa's poor are not the same. What i mean is, technology will never settle the dispute of how to create wealth and control its distribution no matter how much wealth there is.

And what about laws? Do you really want a majority passing laws? There's a saying that a true democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. And never forget that half the people in this country are below average.
 
 
 
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