2012-01-22

Workaholism isn't obsolete after all

A week ago I confessed to being a workaholic, and wrote about how working too hard tends to lead to second-rate output. I quoted FM-2030 as saying that workaholics -- even those of us who love our jobs -- were too uncreative and all-around boring to be ready for the singularity and its precursor period (which he called the Telespheral Age).

On Saturday, however, Sean Henderson from the Abolitionist Society wrote, in reply to an e-mail inquiry of mine, "Present day work implies involuntary suffering - we'll need workaholics to develop the means to transform human design so that activity is blissful. Maybe the motto should be 'towards the abolition of suffering through suffering'."


He went on to explain that he practices what he preaches. He goes to school full-time and holds a full-time job in health care. Like me, he's used a prescription dopaminergic to keep working long and hard.

This response stunned me, coming from a champion of transhumanism's only truly hedonistic branch. Not only were we headed for a future where work was bliss, but it would take some workaholics to get us there!

As I delved further into the subject, I read David Pearce's site The Hedonistic Imperative, which the Abolitionist Society links to repeatedly. David argues for the quickest possible end to not just human suffering, but the suffering of all sentient beings that are likely to exist throughout the observable universe. To achieve this mission, posthumans must be not only infinitely happy, but infinitely motivated to explore the far reaches of space.

What's surprising is that David points to various kinds of dopamine highs, notably the one caused by MDMA, as primitive, imperfect examples of the combination of bliss and altruistic motivation he's advocating. Experts say these are the same states that can make working long hours addictive and compulsive. In other words, after the singularity, everyone will be a workaholic, and that will be the healthiest state!

Even before the Singularity, Sean's comment suggests that workaholism is likely to prove underrated, especially for people who work in certain areas of research (like I plan to) or support them financially. The more hours we can work without sacrificing quality, productivity or ethics, the more new technologies we can build, and the more new technologies those new technologies can help us build.

My next post will be a manifesto of healthy workaholism.
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