There's a cult of people in Mexico who worship an AI, believing it will grant them brain uploading: destructive surgical removal of their brains to have themselves recreated as unaging software minds. They're basically right. Trouble is, brain surgery isn't cheap and they they're not rich. So they start a monastery, loosely inspired by models like the utopian "phalansteries" or medieval communities. How can I make that setup, if not economically viable, then not outright ridiculous? Specifically, what are these guys doing to run a minimal lifestyle, ideally at a profit, with near-future (2030s) tech? With a utopian "we'll be in paradise soon" mindset?
Intended use in my story: It's fine, maybe even good for story purposes, if there's the tension that they can't afford to upload everyone and have to beg the AI to take pity on them. Uploading costs on the order of \$1 million at first, then on the order of $100K years later. So maybe the ideal setup for story purposes is something where they can pool enough funds to send a few people to digital heaven but it quickly looks like a hopeless task to send everyone, causing the rest to live a minimal lifestyle and argue about whether to keep waiting their turn.
Other possibly useful info: The AI is the one from Resources For an AI-Controlled Base In Ethiopia , who's intelligent, friendly and not eager to set itself up as a god. It's happy to provide entertainment, having originally been designed to run a video game. It has robots and allied AI minds (plus the uploaders, who can pilot bots or just talk to people), but until years into the story think "quadrotors and cheap flimsy humanoids" but not "army of better-than-human bots". It has other bases including the Ethiopia one and a winery atop the still-poisoned no-mans-land from WWI (!) on the French/Belgian border.