Non-Accumulative Capitalism Takeoff vis-à-vis Artificial Intelligence Takeoff

By Carlos Largacha-Martínez, Ph.D. Humanistic Management Network

A significant challenge of Artificial Intelligence is that it will reach its singularity—its takeoff, its intelligence explosion— before we reach the singularity of non-accumulative capitalism. AI takeoff, or singularity, poses many challenges to society. For example, OXFAM’s ‘Economy for the 1%’ research is telling us that between 2010 and 2015, in only 5 years, the wealth concentration became more than six times worse. If we follow the research’s rate, in 2030, instead of 62 families, it will be 5 families. By 2045, it will be only one family.

If today it is acceptable for those 62 families to have the same wealth of 3.6 billion of the poorest people in the world, nothing makes us think that this will change for 2030, nor for 2045. So the elitist, unethical, accumulative mindset that governs the wealthiest today, will continue in the future. In the same vein, there is no hope to think that the Artificial Intelligence that would emerge in 2045 would have different values. The 5 families will likely control the means of production of the new technology developments, including AI. Will the humanoids of that time think differently than the wealthiest? I really don’t envision such; neither do I have any optimism that this will be different.

Because, besides all the efforts to have a better humanity’s GINI coefficient done by the United Nations, we must also work in the ‘hidden variables’, the psychosocial ones: vulnerability, status-addiction, emerging self by comparison. I strongly believe that without this work, the AI that will emerge in 2045 will be fueled and instilled with these non-human values, hence neither human flourishing nor sustainable capitalism will happen. We desperately need a non-accumulative capitalism so a sustainable artificial intelligence can emerge.

But do the wealthiest people have bad intentions? I don’t think so. It is part of the global capitalistic socialization. Although I have not had a deep conversation with them, I have had conversations with some of the wealthiest in Latin America. They have the same mindset, encapsulated in the following (non encompassing) axioms:

Capitalism needs strong businessmen, thus

Capitalists need strong savings to recuperate from economic cycles, thus

Capital must be accumulated ad infinitum. Overall,

It is not only ethical but a must, to endlessly repeat this cycle.

Yes, it is true that they like the life they live. Yes, it is also true that they love to use power. But those are not the main pillars that sustain accumulative capitalism—stockowner capitalism. It is the fear of no longer being wealthy capitalists, which runs this system the way it does. Since the world is always experiencing wars, terrorism, financial crisis, and social upheavals, the wealthiest face continuous vulnerability. The only insurance is endless accumulation so the ‘savings cushion’ is fat enough to be resilient. They have heard and read about the 1929 crisis. They do not want that again.

However, there is a ‘hidden’ pillar, besides the three ones mentioned: life style (status), dominant attitudes (power), and conundrum financial crisis. I believe this is the real engine besides the jungle-type capitalism we are living —and have been living— since the industrial revolution, and its explosion after WWII, where consumerism emerged as never seen before—plus the Reagan-Thatcher reinvigoration.  This ‘hidden pillar’ is the deep-seated belief that human development, human evolution, human happiness (all synonyms) is/are achieved by having, not by being. Hence, money becomes the motivator. It is the method by which the wealthiest can buy things and show society what they have.  Habe ergo sum. I exist because I have. The engine, the trust, the will is money, or the real world behind that, social comparison. I am a ‘successful’ businessman since I have things, compared to others. But it will be naïve to write that this is only a habit of the wealthiest. It is a globalized habit. People measure their success based on what they have, what Herzberg called ‘extrinsic motivators’. The challenge is that what gives us a sensation of flourishing in life are ‘intrinsic motivators’. The absence of ‘basic money’ demotivates us, but the affluence of money only makes us ‘comparable happy’, it does not mean that we are flourishing.

The contrary of homos economicus is human flourishing. Several authors have dealt with this, mainly Maslow’s self-actualization, Mihaly’s Flow, and the positive psychology movement. What I found when creating/discovering quantic humanism, is that the source of all these approaches and of human flourishing was one, and mainly one: authenticity. Authentic beings emerge thanks to being unique, and of avoiding any type of comparison. Authentic beings don’t need others to tell them that they are successful. They create successfulness.

An example of the ‘extrinsic motivators’ driving success in wealthy people happened some years ago. One day I was talking with a wealthy US businessman, a true capitalist. I had the courage to ask him “What are your dreams that achieving them would make you happy?” His face darkened abruptly, and then he, in a fight-and-flight move, commented: “Happiness, that doesn’t exist. I don’t think about that, What I am working on is my retiring plan, and as soon as I can achieve it, the better. Then I will have all the time to do what I want”.

This is a sad picture. Bottom line, status hides human flourishing. Besides this, happiness and money in a Cartesian plane don’t make a straight line, it is an inverted exponential curve, with an endless flat ending. So, can we change the extrinsic motivator of status/having/money, to the intrinsic motivators of purpose/passion/uniqueness? If we are able to do it, the humble hypothesis here is that non-accumulative capitalism will emerge ‘naturally’.

Can we create AI-humanoids that have flourishing structured software, so they can help reflexivity to emerge in purposeful-human-beings? That is the challenge. That is the main goal: Authentic human beings that thrive for a purposeful life, and a purposeful society.

However, some experiments to have a non-accumulative capitalism aren’t giving a positive panorama, like having ‘luxury taxes’,  ‘limited growth’, or ‘limited-time to private property’. They all have had mixed results. In jungle-type capitalism, it is a stupidity to think about a purposeful capitalist.

Last but not least, we need to change the context, so the non-accumulative capitalists will emerge, as is already happening in several global movements (Yunus Center’s ‘New Kind of Capitalism’, Buthan GNH ‘Gross National Happiness’ vs. GDP , Economy of the Common Good). See the video done by the Humanistic Management Network. Again, please don’t just rationalize it, try to feel it.

This is the second in a series of posts about human flourishing and artificial intelligence. Find the first post here.