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Forced Artificial Scarcity: the economy of the future

This humorous essay at by David Wong has a lot of truth in it about the change we are now seeing in how the economy functions, as so many goods and services are produced using automation:

And if someday we do perfect cold-fusion reactors or nanotech manufacturing and everyone has 100 GB/second Wi-Fi connections downloading data into a computerized contact lens, the [marketers] will be the guardians of the Old Way, convincing you that you shouldn’t use those shoes that your replicator spits out for three cents a pair. You need to buy theirshoes, for $80. Because they’re handmade.

Maybe they’ll build the concept of “paying just to be paying” into a new morality. Or a new religion — one based entirely around [Forced ARTificial Scarcity].

Worth reading, and funny.  —Chris Peterson

6 Responses to “Forced Artificial Scarcity: the economy of the future”

  1. Bozidar Kornic Says:

    It is worth while to make more products in the same unit of time. By doing that, we cheappen the commodty called labor. This leads to another anomaly, namely, creatin of surplus labor. This creates unemploymet because the machine replaces the man. Capitalism thrives on permnent number of unemployed in order to keep the wages of labor down, and profits up. This leads to widening gap between the haves, and havenots, this leads to increasing tension betwen the unemployed, and the ever richer (but smaller) class. If left without correcton, it leads to possible revolution, or stagnaton. So, buy the cheaper shoes, but before you throw somebody out of work, remember that a right to a job is a human right, not a priviledge.

  2. Nanoman Says:

    Even if a not-so-universal/general mechanosynthesis manufacturing is developed, say something along the lines of Merkle’s “Hydrocarbon Assembler” or the Desktop Nanofactory envisioned by Center For Responsible Nanotechnology, as opposed to a “Star Trek Replicator” technology (which by the way works at the subatomic level and is not true nanotech), we will still see major and drastic changed. What happens to De Beers for example when nanotech produces diamonds in any size, shape, and texture, INCLUDING the ability to put atomic level inclusions to make the diamond look nature when its infact artificial? They will COLLAPSE!

    You may say this won’t effect actual elemental materials such as gold or platinum, which are not merely molecular arrangements but the actual atom itself. True, mechanosynthesis cannot transmute one atom into another, that would require a nuclear-level transformation. But, it can allow cheap electrical power to be produced and cheaper atom smashers/particle accelerators, and perhaps enable us to cheaply produce hardware that can be used for nuclear fusion research. INDIRECTLY, it could thus lead to those nuclear technologies.

    Artificial scarcity when people have self-manufacturing systems? Hardly possible unless you get a total totalitarian system able to enforce it.

  3. Nolanimrod Says:

    When I first read, back in the 80′s, about the Japanese Lights Out factories, I wondered just what, 20 or 30 years hence, all the people involved in manufacturing were going to do.

    So far the answer has seemed to be… work for a non-profit.

    This has proved to be quite lucrative.

    I understand one of the Kennedys started up a deal with Hugo Chavez to give low cost heating oil to help the poor and also, by way of helping the not-so-poor, managed to pay himself a few hundred thou a year.

    Most news stories, in keeping with the Journalism 101 dictum about quoting sources, are able to find the director of some association or society or group to back it up.

    (blockquote>According to Winnifer Blatherpoof, Associate Director of the Hemorrhoid Defense Fund…

    On another level, one might ask oneself why, when a timepiece accurate to a minute a year can be bought for $5, people are still paying $10,000 for Rolexes.

  4. George Says:

    Bozidar Kornic: What you are describing is completely contrary to the actual progress of civilization and history, but yes, crony capitalism has its problems. I highly suggest you spend some time reading and explore the material.

  5. mr burns Says:

    Capitalism thrives on tools, raw materials, labor and intelligence. Any of those components that can be freely exchanged and so has a market price is capital. Fewer and fewer products are produced using massive amounts of labor. What is most lacking in intelligence , the understanding of how to design and build a product. This is especially true of nanotech, biological and electronic devices and processes. The availability of surplus muscle is petty much a non-factor.

  6. Bozidar Kornic Says:

    George: Re: Problems with Capitalism
    It is my evaluation of the socalled ‘capitalist mode of production’ that it is anti human, the sole purpose is to cheapen the labor, and create the wealth for the owners of the ways, and means for production, distribution, and the banks which finance the process. The longer the system runs without strict controls by the government, labor, and other parties involved, the more the gap between the workers, and the capitalists widens. In any country where the difference between those who produce, and the owners is 400 times, there exists an explosive condition created by this iniquity. It is not logical, fair, human nor legal to have such astronomical differences. We are all born with the so called BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS; Food and shelter, medical, education, jobs, free speech, and the Right to life. In the U.S. these Rights have evolved into the PRIVILEDGES for the wealthy only. The pursuit of happiness is impossible without these RIGHTS.

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