Following the rapid development of robotic technology and artificial intelligence, widespread job loss caused by mass automation is at the center of our contemporary anxiety. Yet, people still tend to believe that care work will be one of the final terrains of labor to be replaced by machines. This is because most care receivers are human, who have the need for emotional exchange alongside the physical work of care. It is generally assumed that machines will have a hard time to provide that exchange at an adequate level and in the multifarious forms required.
Whether machines have the capability to provide or simulate emotional exchanges is not our concern here. What is crucial is that emotional exchanges are not interchangeable. They can only happen between specific people in a specific place and time. The celebration of this intricacy is often overlooked in our daily lives and how we manage our relations - this is one reason why ReUnion starts from the relationship between the user and themselves (i.e., to always indicate that that relationship is an exchange between being in a certain place and time, that one's being is not constant and not interchangeable with any other moment in being, time and place - only in that specific combination as exchange, which creates a relationship, from which a person can act).
Market solutions attempt to assume that most things, if not all things, can be measured by objective data and turned into reproducible products to sell. People have no other choice but to accept these products as predominantly accessible solutions, even if viewed as less than desirable temporary band-aids. It implies every struggle, every consequence, has a payable solution. It is apparent that these ‘solutions’ in fact contribute to the chronic everyday alienation of people in our society.
An alternative social infrastructure that fulfills the needs of communities and people and stabilizes these interrelations and exchanges is necessary. We must make dependency of people's continuous wellbeing and social security less dependent on their proximity to the current production-reproduction dichotomy, the informal nuclear family structure and formal market and state support. We need subsistence, non-accumulation-based economic proposal that refutes the hyper-individualized culture. We must prioritize exchanges based on interrelations around our fundamental need for care.
If we do not start to work on this now, it is foreseeable that these crises will continue to get worse, and that there will be exorbitant public healthcare costs in order to treat their symptoms. These treatments will be at best insufficient and will (continue to be) unequally distributed. Depending on market solutions will not suffice as they can only offer transactional relationships, which inevitably contribute to the issue of loneliness and impossible individualized accountability. Furthermore, with the increasing wealth gap in our society, market solutions of care will only intensify social and economic inequality. Another way must be sought.
We are enveloped by a complex set of obfuscating, intangible, and entangled crises. A single solution for a single problem will not hold strong in the midst of a toxic economic ecology. We must employ an ecological approach in order to transform. ReUnion Network offers a radically new approach to deal with these issues together. It is a new kind of social network, a new kind of economic system, and a new kind of legal infrastructure.
Above all, ReUnion Network is a project that finds technical solutions for the future of care and rethinks technology, economy, and our society through the lens of care.