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The End of Hob: Dresden Codak, IEEE and the Singularity

The Hob Series at Dresden Codak seems to have resolved. I can tell you that it is a good story because I am still thinking about it. It’s funny that it would resolve today. Coincidentally, I was thinking about the Simpsons quote which I remember imperfectly:

Flanders‘ son: “What do taxes pay for, Daddy?”

Ned Flanders: “Why, taxes pay for all kinds of things! Roads, sunshine, the air we breathe, and all those people who just don’t feel like workin’, lord love em’.”

So, here’s the question (mostly hypothetical): If we could make a largely automated system that could provide basic needs (food, water, shelter, clothing, basic medical needs) to everyone with only 1% of the worlds population working (a volunteer force, effectively) would that be a good thing? There would still be lots of places for people to have gainful employment – entertainment, service, luxury goods, etc. But nobody would have to work at all if they didn’t feel like it. Would it be a better world, or a worse one?

When I was younger, I thought that would be a better world. I am not so sure any more. Utopia seems a lot more oppressive than it used to.


Dresden Codak’s Hob is a 24 page graphic novella. The author, Aaron Diaz, explores themes of futurism and psychology. The way he weaves his characters’ subtle family drama and childhood baggage into the story is quite remarkable. Of the whole story, this quote struck me as most poetic “[the thinking machines] can give you anything you want, save relevance.”

The futurist vision is the new synthesis of occult dreams and new science. The promise is whole new worlds and the time to explore them. Infinite wealth and immortality.

It is as abhorrent to some as it is seductive to others. IEEE spectrum wrote up a while issue on it; it’s not as fringe as you might think. They call it the Singularity. Will we ‘evolve’ to become one with machines? Will organic humans still be relevant? Relevance is the question on my mind when I read this. What makes people relevant?

I think it’s different from the things that make people “good” or “worthy” or “interesting.” Those don’t have the same grim connotation. People can lack any of those qualities and still we would keep them around. But what about irrelevance?

They say the opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference. That’s why I don’t trust Utopia anymore. I’m not sure that many of us could survive not being needed.