This feels a little bit of a stretch: how would we know if the identity crisis today is different from other eras? Was it a similar transition that led to the Sorrows of Young Werther, or is that just the human condition? I'm unsure if this argument is on critical path for the book or not either.
Back to that collective... I think this narrative keeps wanting to ask for a community (and esp. nation-state) view. We got to space because countries did it... and the emergence of companies as rival state-scale actors is one of the most profound transitions, I believe, in human history.
To me, this suggests a powerful framing of the future prescriptions as "what ifs" -- neither side can know if the future will be continuous or discontinuous with the past. What early signs should we watch out for? What policies should we enact regardless as insurance?
Another place where I believe a segue would help enormously -- you establish the centrality of biological needs. Computation as a need has to get re-underlined I think several times before the importance of this view lands with the reader.
I love this framing. It's new and, I think, one of the more important contributions to the conversation that this book could make. To break the utility function, normatively, into needs and wants would change the framework for economics and other disciplines all the way down. I wonder what the intellectual history of that concept might be... I had never thought that way, and I'm unsure how to connect it to other critical perspectives on economics. In other words, thank you for this insight :)
I love how you dispense with these here. I wonder if something similar, elsewhere in this section, on "social needs" might be important. We are intrinsically social creatures -- and our freedoms depend on the ability to prevent others from unduly constricting them, etc. If not to be included, at least to be swatted away as you (effectively) do here with learning and education.
Ah! Capital -- insofar as it is needed to satisfy basic needs -- is abundant. I think that's a critical distinction. Plenty of people would like to reasonably start a small business that would generate a return, and struggle to get capital. I know you anticipate all this, I just think it's best to protect the -- terrific -- insights here from the inevitable and solvable charges of rosy simplification.
True in certain parts of the developed world, though I think this is a local truth at best. I think the "evening out" of the world toward a capital-abundance condition is probably an underlying (and fair!) assumption here, worth calling out. Will send more notes on the nation-state question generally as it pertains to this.