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The Almighty Buck Technology Build

A 'Star Trek' Economic System May Be Closer Than You Think 503

HughPickens.com writes: Anna North writes about "Star Trek'"s "post-economic" system, in which money no longer exists and anything you want can be made in a replicator, essentially for free. According to Manu Saadia, the author of "Trekonomics," a forthcoming book about the economics of the "Star Trek" universe, when everything is free objects will no longer be status symbols. Success will be measured in achievements, not in money: ""Instead of working to become more wealthy, you work to increase your reputation," says Saadia. "You work to increase your prestige. You want to be the best captain or the best scientist in the entire galaxy. And many other people are working to do that, as well. It's very meritocratic."

In a time of rising inequality and stagnating wages, a world where everyone's needs are met and people only work if they feel like it seems pretty far away but a post-scarcity economy is actually far more within reach than the technological advances for which "Star Trek" is better known. If productivity growth continues, Saadia believes there will be much more wealth to go around in a few hundred years' time. In general, society might look more like present-day New Zealand, which he sees as less work-obsessed than the United States: "You work to live rather than the other way round." Wealthy retirees today also already live an essentially post-money existence, "traveling and exploring and deepening their understanding of the world and being generally happy." According to Saadia we're beginning to get a few hints of what the post-money, reputation-based economy might look like. "If you look at things like Instagram, Vine, places where people put a huge amount of work into basically just gaining a certain amount of reputation, it's fascinating to see. Or even Wikipedia, for that matter. The Internet has begun to give us a hint of how much people will work, for no money, just for reputation."
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A 'Star Trek' Economic System May Be Closer Than You Think

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  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:30AM (#50088613)
    The Star Trek economy only works with no scarcity. And while there is a surplus of labor, there is NOT a surplus or resources or energy. And energy is the big one here, as everyone keeps telling us. Sure there is solar, and wind, but they run up against some rather hard resource limitations. (Especially plastics which depend on oil...)
    • by Bovius ( 1243040 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:44AM (#50088677)

      Scarcity is a limiting factor, but human greed is even more of a limiting factor. We will never reach anything resembling a utopian society where everyone's basic needs are met, regardless of the means, because of human nature, not because of available resources.

      • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @01:31PM (#50089241)

        Hmmm... Not really.

        Greed is your way of saying "people should limit their desires to what is collectively obtainable within the existing scarcity".

        I mean... fine... but you're admitting scarcity is an issue.

        If there were no scarcity then how could there be greed? I mean... imagine a world where you could have as much of everything as any sane person... even a really greedy one... could possibly want?

        in Startrek did you ever look at the population numbers? That people skip over that one is always baffling to me. Whole planets get blown up and they'll say stuff like "there were 3 million people on that world"... Three fucking million people... on an entire planet... and not a shitty one... a giant green/blue idealized paradise planet. Three million. Which means every douchebag on that planet could have a scale reproduction of the French Sun Palace staffed with nympho holograms that bear you on a litter about your palace whilst your dick is being sucked at all fucking times.

        That is startrek.

        That is what it means to be a post scarcity economy. And we are no where near that on old planet earth.

        We'd need about a thousand more planets, probably a few million starships, and of course replicators, the infinite power of however that matter/anti matter reactor works... and computers so powerful that they can create sapient life on a whim just by saying "make a hologram smart enough to match wits with Data.

        The untapped idiotically overpowering technology of that show is astounding.

        If you think about half the crap they have and then think about the way they do things... it makes no sense.

        Take their stupid wars against whomever. Why do they fight that way? That's completely insane.

        First, they don't need to have crew compliments of those sizes on those ships. They clearly could automate just about everything. Maybe put one person on each battle wagon. But more to the point, why don't they have specialized warships and why are their specialized warships so completely shitty? They keep closing to knife range and firing ineffectual "phasers" at targets that are clearly best dealt with in other ways.

        Their torpedoes seem like they're pretty nasty. Okay... why are they so under powered? In WW2, we had torpedoes that could cripple a ship... ONE torpedo. And for big nasty battleships... maybe you could sink them with four or five of them. But in startrek they're firing dozens of the fucking things at each other. Maybe take the torp size and increase it by a factor of ten or a hundred. Fucking fire a warp core at someone. Eat it. The Borg or whatever shows up with their big ship... You have a big torp ship that has nothing on it but big fuck you torp launchers. It warps into point blank range... fires its entire weapon's compliment in .01 seconds... then immediately warps away. Borg goes boom... everyone returns to their orgies on the holodeck.

        Think of the way real war works. You don't just sit there poking at each other like that. It suppose that happened in WW1 but that was more owed to people not understanding the technology. So machine guns pinned people down and tanks were not understood to be the counter to that. By WW2, a big machine gun line just meant you had to bring in a tank column and over run the area.

        On and on and on and on... so many things didn't make sense in that show.

        But the point is... we don't have any of that stuff. And we're not going to get any of it any time soon.

        • > Their torpedoes seem like they're pretty nasty. Okay... why are they so under powered?

          Because it's entertainment. If a 24th century photon torpedo had even as much power as a 20th century nuke, then you could obliterate even the largest ships with a single hit, no matter how strong their 'shields' were. But that would be decidedly harder to write epic space battles around (or maybe not, depending on your level of creativitiy).

        • by TeknoHog ( 164938 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @05:15PM (#50090313) Homepage Journal

          If there were no scarcity then how could there be greed? I mean... imagine a world where you could have as much of everything as any sane person... even a really greedy one... could possibly want?

          Greed isn't a question of absolute amounts. It's about having more than others, whether or not you can actually use/consume/enjoy it. It's about status and power -- limiting what others can have so that you get to have something special.

          Of course, a sane person will care little about status. If your neighbour has a faster computer, you can still be a better programmer, which is something no amount of greed will ever take away.

          • In a post scarcity civilization how can you possibly be greedy?

            I mean... how? There's no way to horde things because there's no lack of anything. Everyone in such a society can have diamond encrusted mansions. What are you hording?

            The only thing I can think of would be entire fucking planets. Just one dude... my planet. That's about it.

            As to sane people not caring about status... don't be silly. Status has material consequences. If you have status people do what you say and you have high social standing. Wh

            • by vivian ( 156520 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @06:36PM (#50090605)

              Greed is infinite, and is ultimately about power and control. If it were possible, I am sure there would be those who would own the entire galaxy, if for no other reason that to say it's theirs.

              Even now, you have executives that earn multi-million dollar salaries, with super yachts and homes that they use for a fraction of the year. What's the point? There is little additional benefit from having a 100 ft yacht compared to a 200ft yacht, but there is a huge difference in the money you have to have to pay for them.

              All those dollars have been paid to a single executive to afford such things has been done so instead of making goods and services cheaper for the customer, or by paying better salaries to the rest of the company's employees.

              Executive salaries in the 60s were typically 25x the average salary.
              Now they are more than 200x the average salary. More efficient production is not going to change this.

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @03:26PM (#50089891)

        Scarcity is a limiting factor, but human greed is even more of a limiting factor. We will never reach anything resembling a utopian society where everyone's basic needs are met, regardless of the means, because of human nature, not because of available resources.

        Well, "human nature" is somewhat malleable by social constructs. So I wouldn't say "never." But there are significant roadblocks.

        For example, John Maynard Keynes predicted that only workaholics would be working over 15 hours per week by 2030. We don't really seem to be on that path, despite the fact that worker productivity has basically quadrupled in the U.S. [wikipedia.org] since 1950. (I know some people are going to argue over how accurate this claim is -- but the exact numbers don't matter so much. It's undisputed among economists that worker productivity has gone up significantly over the past 75 years.)

        We could all be working 10 hours per week and living with a similar economic standard of living to 1950. Personally, I'd be fine with that, though I know many people wouldn't.

        Or we could be less contentious and go back the productivity of 1975 or so... and basically keep our current standard of living for middle classes, but just pay rich people less. Alas, we've chosen greed over spare time.

        • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

          worker productivity has basically quadrupled in the U.S. [wikipedia.org] since 1950

          I see that chart brought up every time worker productivity is mentioned.

          It is misleading. People ignore the fact that the U.S. moved off the gold standard in 1971, which is when the red line starts deviating from the orange line. That's not just coincidence; switching off the gold standard caused the deviation you see.

          The red line is real wages, or wages after adjusting for inflation. Since 1971, that line is essentially flat because wages increased at around the rate of inflation (because the value of t

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tlambert ( 566799 )

      The Star Trek economy only works with no scarcity. And while there is a surplus of labor, there is NOT a surplus or resources or energy. And energy is the big one here, as everyone keeps telling us.

      OK, I'll tell you different, if it'll make you happy. Energy is an artificial scarcity. Nuclear and space based solar power, or some combination of the two, can pretty easily eliminate that problem.

      Sure there is solar, and wind, but they run up against some rather hard resource limitations.

      Planet-based renewables, other than breeder reactors, are pretty iffy. Space-based solar (SPS) is very reliable, and doesn't suffer downtime from weather conditions, just like breeders.

      (Especially plastics which depend on oil...)

      Actually, like food, they depend for a vast amount of their input on CHON (Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen), and on energy.

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      I am of precisely the opposite opinion of you. Energy wouldn't be the problem, minerals would be.

      First of all, plastics are essentially zero problem if energy isn't scarce. The concept that plastics requires "oil from the ground" is a complete myth. "Oil" can be made - easily - given water, carbon dioxide (from the air), and energy. It can also be made from pretty much anything containing carbon and hydrogen, burned with insufficient oxygen to form "town gas" (H2 + CO). The only reason we use oil to make p

  • by gavron ( 1300111 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:31AM (#50088619)

    The "trekonomy" only works when everyone is onboard a starship and their cabin and their necessities are provided for them. Their "uniform" precludes fancy watches, gawdy jewelry, or anything other than replication of FUNCTIONAL ITEMS.

    In the real world (sorry, fellow Trekies) people need HOUSING and the more $$$ you have the bigger the house. Houses sit on property. So if you're trying to get out of the NYC apartment and into a big Texas-sized house on a Texas-sized ranch, it's $$$.

    People who are not in the military wear jewelry, and if you're a famous celebrity with no talent, it has to be big on the diamond front. You need $$$ for that, because even though manufactured diamonds are more perfect, they aren't "prized" as much as the flawed one we send people to the deaths in mines for.

    - Fancy watches. You can't 3D print a Breitling. But if you could likely it would be prized less, just like diamonds.

    - Cars. You can't 3D print a Lamorghini Gallardo or wrap it around a light pole because your $$$ exceeds your talent (see youtube).

    - Planes. Kanye can fly on a private jet, but you can't 3D print one, and only $$$ will get you there.

    Trekonomy is a cute concept, and I hope that lots of people spend $$$ reading it. ...because you can't 3D print a book you haven't bought...

    Ehud Gavron
    Tucson AZ US

    • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:58AM (#50088735) Homepage
      I generally agree with what you said, but you exaggerated a bit.

      There are a few places where the version of communism they are calling "trekonomy" works besides a star ship. Besides modern militaries and families, many religious institutions use something similar. Nuns and Monks are clear examples. So do non-evil prison systems - they don't charge the inmates for food, clothing, etc. Note the highly authoritarian system for all of those categories - military, family, religioun and prisoners.

      But yeah, the idea that it is going to be adopted by the general population is stupid. Not all of us want to live like a soldier/child/nun/prisoner.

      • There are a few places where the version of communism they are calling "trekonomy" works [...]. So do non-evil prison systems - they don't charge the inmates for food, clothing, etc.

        And the warders work for merit? Interesting.

    • by BHS_Turf ( 8387 )

      Housing: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/asitha... [www.cbc.ca] - check

      Transportation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] - check

      The reason people want expensive cars and private planes beyond convenience is as an outward sign of Reputation within a community and culture that revolves around money. The article points to a shift away from that mentality.

  • Scarcity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:32AM (#50088625)

    Post scarcity is a fictitious concept. The wants, needs and desires of the human race will expand to use up all available resources until scarcity is achieved. There will always be some material wealth that will be scarce relative to demand. This will be the limiting factor on human expansion. When the scarce resources are necessary to our survival, then people die off and growth is limited. When the scarce resources are not necessary to survival, then the poverty level rises. Simple as that.

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 )

      wants, needs and desires of the human race will expand

      Says the guy who wants 99,999 ferraris so he can drive a different one every day. You don't? Huh, weird, I guess there is a limit on want, need, and desire.

      There's reasons why this is bullshit (for instance, scarcity of raw materials and energy) but "people want infinite things" isn't one of them.

      • Says the guy who wants 99,999 ferraris so he can drive a different one every day.

        Because 100,000 would be ridiculous.

  • Why is it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:34AM (#50088635) Homepage

    That journalists are the ones arguing about 'not having to work to live'?

    I never see economists or machinists or retail workers espouse this philosophy. I mean really, just because a tiny fraction of the planet doesn't have to work (the 1-2 per centers including the wealthy retirees she touts), it does not follow that the people who make life possible for those economic elite are going to suddenly find what amounts to a pot of gold somewhere.

    The Post Replicator fantasy economy is just that - a fantasy. Better to wish for a warp drive. At least it's useful.

    • They are supported by their savings - and the state. That many of them could still contribute but don't need to and don't feel the need to is an indicator that it's possible and doable for many.
    • That journalists are the ones arguing about 'not having to work to live'?

      Of course. It's a natural progression - from research and writing to copying and pasting. The logical next step is to be a wealthy retiree - but in a meritocracy, somewhere near the top obviously (next to Kim, and Kane). Kind of like a never-ending press junket, but with better food, wine, and not having to read Twitter in order to post a story afterwards. "travelling [through space] and exploring and deepening their understanding of the world and being generally happy."

  • by TheGoodNamesWereGone ( 1844118 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:44AM (#50088679)
    In a society as described (with essentially unlimited resources and energy) what will you do about the population explosion? Without warp drive to get to other star systems we'd end up like the Moties. Another Crazy Eddie utopia, not well thought out. Also, I doubt the vast majority of people would suddenly fulfill their potential and become rock star artists & scientists, achieving Great Things. Some would, but most will just partake of all that instantly available everything and disappear into the Holodeck, which presumably is also free. That future is more like Wall-E.
    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:56AM (#50088723) Journal

      We do have birth control, which is largely why populations are in decline in much of the industrialized world. Even before the Pill, it's long been a feature of wealthier societies that they have lower birthrates. Between contraception and a presumably wealthier society, population would likely stabilize and probably enter a decline.

    • In a society as described (with essentially unlimited resources and energy) what will you do about the population explosion?

      What population explosion would that be?

      In the more advanced parts of the world (USA, Europe, China, Japan, Korea, etc) population growth is already negative absent immigration. Hell, even India is approaching negative population growth, though it's not there yet.

      Current trends predict a peak population for the world sometime later this century, followed by a decline to lower popula

    • by Xarius ( 691264 )

      http://www.project-syndicate.o... [project-syndicate.org]

      Population is widely expected to peak at around 8 - 10 billion and stabilise somewhere in the next 10 - 20 years, and probably decline a little afterwards. Scary visions of a planet bursting at the seams with people are just hyperbole at this point.

  • by murdocj ( 543661 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:48AM (#50088685)

    One word: water.

  • Called "Communism". (Score:3, Informative)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:50AM (#50088689) Homepage
    1. I love Star Trek.

    2. That does not change the fact that the economy portrayed in the show is a version of communism. That is the scientific term for the economic system they used.

    3. Morons that think calling 'communism' "STAR TREK ECONOMY" will somehow hide what it is should be laughed at.

    4. Communism is ALSO the system used by almost all modern militaries and families. You don't charge your kids for the use of the house. Nor do you charge Fighter pilots for the use of the plane, fuel, bombs, etc.

    5. While Communism works pretty well within the military and within Families, it SUCKS for a general economy. See Russia, Cuba, North Korea for prime examples.

    6. WE WILL NOT EVER END UP USING COMMUNISM / 'STAR TREK ECONOMY' FOR THE GENERAL POPULATION. That battle was fought and Communism lost during the 20th century.

    7. A 'post scarcity' economy is a false idea. there will always be scarcity - fuel, ideas, certain types of entertainment, sex, will ALWAYS be scarce. Merely because we will have solved the scarcity of the original commodities - food, clothing, certain types of products, does not mean nothing will ever be scarce again.

    • by nyet ( 19118 )

      Post scarcity is a spectrum, not an absolute. What kinds of commodities will you kill for to survive?

      • Nonononono. This is the 21st Century. We've moved beyond the nuances on non-Aristotelian logic. Everything now must be binary and absolute, you barbarian!

    • Scarcity is only part of the equation. Once you have a few million in the bank, "scarce" isn't generally meaningful. So why do the millionaires struggle so to become billionaires? Because at that point, money is the way of keeping score and everyone wants the high score, whether it's dollars, "whuffie" or gold-pressed Latium.

      Conversely, Communism failed because A) the Party were hypocrites, living the high life while refusing to share with the masses. Regular capitalists, in effect. B) there wasn't any mean

    • 1. I love Star Trek.

      2. That does not change the fact that the economy portrayed in the show is a version of communism. That is the scientific term for the economic system they used.

      Ok, this far we agree.

      3. Morons that think calling 'communism' "STAR TREK ECONOMY" will somehow hide what it is should be laughed at.

      Why? The (US-)engilsh language is full of PC phrasology. Religion, skin hue & sexual preferences can't be talked about without PC phrases. Why would politcal convictions not need them?
      Especially the C-word...

      4. Communism is ALSO the system used by almost all modern militaries and families. You don't charge your kids for the use of the house. Nor do you charge Fighter pilots for the use of the plane, fuel, bombs, etc.

      You obviously have never even been to a communistic country?

      5. While Communism works pretty well within the military and within Families, it SUCKS for a general economy. See Russia, Cuba, North Korea for prime examples.

      I'm not sure Cuba is a fair comparison. Its cause of poverty is its big neighbour that refused to trade with it, just because they were 'Communists'.
      NKorea seems to be a failure more because of its totalitarianism than

    • > That battle was fought and Communism lost during the 20th century.

      If the US had gone Communist and the USSR had embraced Capitalism, it would not have guaranteed that the USSR would have "won" the cold war.

      The US had better access to resources, and, importantly, the US did not cut itself off from world markets the way that the USSR did.

    • bullshit. communism is designed for scarcity, for distributing goods "equally"

      the economy post-scarcity does represent the end of capitalism, but it also represent the end of communism

      your imagination seems to be "anything not capitalism is communism" when in reality there are many alternative economic models, not just capitalism and communism

      A 'post scarcity' economy is a false idea. there will always be scarcity - fuel, ideas, certain types of entertainment, sex, will ALWAYS be scarce. Merely because we w

  • Socialist fantasy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @11:58AM (#50088733) Journal

    I used to be left wing and a socialist in my youth thanks to Star Trek TNG. No poverty, happiness, people doing what they want because they want too, no pressure on bills, technology to give you everything you want etc.

    Then I grow up and took economics in college and tried living out in the real world and putting up with things.

    Here is why it can never happen:
    1. We are in a service economy today. While the Chinese are actually working making things, we count on plumbers, starbucks baristas, help desk weenies, airline baggage handlers, military personnel, construction workers, and so on. How many would work for free because they want too? Seriously? Most humans would sit on their butts and watch TV all day. Those who would want to work to get out of the house won't work as long as if they had a boss and deadlines and bills to pay. Which brings me to point number 2 ...
    2. How do we divide scarce resources when no money is involved? Yes with services we have scarce resources again replicators or not. In a free market if there are no large hoard of people desperate for any job and a skill or sucky work is required the price will go up. Someone needs to go out in 110 degree temperates in Phoenix to make that apartment ready for the rest of us to live in. If they worked based on the goodness of their hearts WE WOULD HAVE A HOUSING SHORTAGE. Basically if people did what they wanted and make paintings all day and tried to do IT work then no one would do the crappy work that no one wants. In a free market people work for money and the money will work itself out and have people work for what is best for society ... not what is best for themselves.
    3. It takes a lot of work to become a doctor, lawyer, cisco architect, and so on. Seriously it takes years of tests, certifications, work experience, and blood, sweat and tears.
    4. People with free food would become rabbits and reproduce and take over the whole world lowering the amount of opportunities for everyone else.
    5. What would society be like if we did this? People would have less services, homes, electronics, etc. Reality it would be like the Soviet Union. Even if you remove fascist elements you would have 10 year waits for cars, starvation (or maybe not with replicators), no where to go, high unemployment and so on.

    Ask any eastern European on here or Russian what they think about this? They will be flabbergasted and say you have no idea what you are preaching? I remember life in the Soviet Union ... etc.

    So it is sad but a cold hearted reality that our childhoods are over. We need to all work our butts off and be punished for not being the best or persuing the most economically sound path which society is willing to pay more for.

    Unless someone can come up with some better ideas? My idea if I were king based on the free market would be to give condoms to poor countries and with less oversupply of workers consuming resources live will be better for everyone :-) The only way Europe left the dark middle ages was the bubonic plague. As horrible as this was with 1/3 of the population gone the middle class and freedom started where people didn't have to be a surf anymore and Paris and London had jobs again that paid something.

    • "People with free food would become rabbits and reproduce and take over the whole world"

      I agree with most of what you say, but the fact is that people stop reproducing once they get wealthy. The birth rate of almost all the developing countries has fallen - most obviously in South Korea where it's gone from over 6 to under 2 in under 50 years. That doesn't mean we don't have a problem in the short term, but in the medium term - 150 years or so from now - our population will be in free fall.
    • Dude.,. If you've studied economics then you know that by the Second Welfare Theorem, it is possible to redistribute endowments to achieve alternative pareto optimal distributions... Ie... a tiny few super-elite ultra wealthy with millions or billions in poverty subservient to them is only one possible free market allocation.

      You don't have to give up capitalism, free market, or assume the end of scarcity or any other such nonsense... just standard economics... though implementing this is difficult precisely

  • The problem is you are still going to need technicians to repair the vending machines or cleaning the nozzles of the soup dispensers.
    What kind of people are you going to get to do that when money is not a requirement?
    • The main solution to that problem will be design - to ensure that that sort of problem is fairly rare. Beyond that - the geeks of the world - especially teenagers - will take great pleasure in resolving those low level problems, applying the knowledge that we've gained from the manual etc. Remember that kids learn to use technical things by osmosis; as long as they are well designed, this will happen. Beyond that, there will be adults who take pleasure in sorting things out - and society will reward them wi
      • Let's take a quick walk out into the real world. That road for instance - not 'designed' to last hundreds of years - maybe ten. OK, you're going to be the next road guru and, for the fun of it, design and build the road of forever.

        With what for resources? Who's going to pay for the R&D, the machines and the raw materials? Hmm. You run up against those annoying things called budgets. The city government isn't going to let you take the entire budget for ten years for your perfect road. Or perfect w

    • by AgNO3 ( 878843 )
      BORG Nanites DUH.
    • You won't have vending machines and soup machines : these ugly machines are deprecated and instead there's a small room where Neelix the alien is cooking some soup and breverages etc. for you.

    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      What kind of people are you going to get to do that when money is not a requirement?

      Maybe they'll work for free, as a hobby. Isn't slashdot and reddit moderated by moderators who work for free? Isn't stackexchange.com filled with Q&A created entirely for free, just like posting slashdot comments does not earn you money? Millions of man-hours for FREE.

      Of course, someone will have to pay for travel expenses from the technician's house to the house that needs servicing. But his service after that will be f

  • by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @12:03PM (#50088765)

    We've been through this before. Computers and automation were supposed to decrease everyone's workload. Keynes predicted we would have a 15-hr work week by 2030. It hasn't happened yet, and likely won't, because the bean counters and CEOs will simply see the untapped 25-hr/week as lost potential growth and will do all they can to exploit it to maximizing profits.

    We live in a society that demands growth, not steady-state. Trekonomics does not account for the fact that humans are inherently greedy, some so addicted to shiny things that they are willing to struggle to horde so much wealth that they cannot possibly spend it in a lifetime. Until that mentality is erased I wouldn't make extended vacation plans just yet.

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @12:12PM (#50088817) Journal
    ...minus the replicator:

    We're in for a rough ride. A real rough ride. Automation is increasing fast, industry production is being outsourced to 3rd world countries or where labour is cheap, this isn't new, but it's increasing rapidly now. The 1% Richest Elite in America owns 40% of the country, and the rest of the world, the scenario isn't far away. One day, there will be severe uproars amongst the increasingly poor population, not to mention the INCREASING population.

    The software companies are essentially building platforms rather than hiring, the industry heads for full automation. The days where you had manual labour is on a fast track to oblivion, all the unemployment numbers speaks for themselves. People are more and more RENTING their own homes rather than owning, more laws are being imposed on the populations "freedoms" to keep them in line during this transaction to new times, it happens with a speed that's similar to cooking a lobster, it dies, but it's so comfortable while dying in the heat that it gets docile and have no clue what's coming, same with the population. We slowly accept the situation.

    At some point, there will be so few jobs that socialism technically controls everything, and socialism will by then look more like slavery than freedom and democracy. Voting for all of the above instead of several parties...because they all steer in that direction, they just know...telling you, isn't going to work. But telling you what you WANT to hear, will work. (For them!)

    This sounds like some crazy conspiracy tinfoil hat theory, right?

    Well it isn't. And it's happening right in front of you, you know it...harder and harder to get a proper job, highly educated people clueless to why they can't get a decent job. Forget manual labour jobs, those are already given to those before you that'll give up their jobs over their cold dead hands before giving it to you, so they now work OVERTIME. Why do you think we just passed laws to allow higher overtime pay?

    And property? Don't even get me started. Do you guys remember the 2007 crisis? When hundreds of thousands of people had to leave their homes because they couldn't afford to pay their mortgages? And foreclosures was abundant? Guess what happened after that. Two things, a lot of houses where left abandoned and the banks/financial institutions lost billions on houses that became trashed, unmaintained and uncared for while people still had their debt which they can't possibly hope for to ever repay, now if they had kept their homes - they would have stood a fighting chance, but no. Corporate greed eats itself up.

    The second thing that happened, was that smart real estate investors came and purchased the foreclosed homes, and rented them out.

    Joblessness, lack of freedom, lack of happiness, lack of money, lack of jobs, outsourcing, automation will ultimately lead to one of the worst periods in history, civil wars will break out, huge fights amongst growing masses of unemployed welfare recipients fighting against the elite who has the law-in-hand, for food and basic needs. This will probably last a good 20 years or so, until we phase into the next "moneyless" society.

    The moneyless society is actually good, but it's going to be a rough ride (as described above), and the hardest part will be to convince those with the money to part with the monetary system for good, for the common good of everyone, this will eventually equal man to everyone, and our future jobs will basically be to secure our planets resources and stability. But there's going to be ONE huge fight before we get there. Brace yourselves!
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @12:16PM (#50088843) Homepage
    First, ignore their assumption that scarcity is why communism doesn't work.

    There are lots of reasons why we need to pay people to do things.

    There are and always will be jobs that some people are very good at - but they DO NOT WANT TO DO. Just because you are the best at something doesn't mean you will like to do it. Prime examples are sexual - just because you are the best at giving blow jobs in the entire world, does not mean you want to spend your life giving blow jobs. But the same goes for many other jobs - garbage man, crab fisherman, and Wall Street drone. etc. etc.

    Many jobs pay more note because of scarcity but because of unpleasantness. Almost no one wants to be a Wall Street Drone - working 15 hour days unless they get paid huge amounts of money. There is no scarcity involved - lots of people are smart enough to do it. But the job requires such ridiculous hours that the only way to convince people to do it is to pay them gobs of money. Even then, most get burnt out and quit.

    More importantly, scarcity can never vanish - instead what happens is that once very rare luxury items become somewhat rare necessities, and specialization differentiates types. At one point in time the average person owned less than 5 outfits. Clean clothing was a rare luxury. Now, most people own 20 to 100 outfits. It has become a commodity. Has clothing switched to a 'trekonomy?" No - cut and style, has taken over, with certain types of clothing - namely hand made by famous people - becoming extremely rare.

  • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @12:21PM (#50088867) Homepage

    ... where the 1% live like Startfleet and the rest of us live like Bajoran refugees.

  • by bkmoore ( 1910118 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @12:27PM (#50088907)
    Even in Star Trek, not everything could be replicated. Trilithium crystals or Romulan Ale come to mind. Trilithium ore was mined under terrible conditions as seen in several episodes on TNG. Other things had to be purchased, actually bartered as Capt. Picard had no capital, from time to time, usually from the Ferengi, Romulans, Klingons, etc.
  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @12:28PM (#50088919)
    So in the Star Trek universe where money doesn't exist, how does one acquire, say, a collectible item like the badge that Wyatt Earp wore, or a rare tea set once owned by Andrew Carnegie?
    • So in the Star Trek universe where money doesn't exist, how does one acquire, say, a collectible item like the badge that Wyatt Earp wore, or a rare tea set once owned by Andrew Carnegie?

      You have a holodeck malfunction and Wyatt Earp, the hole-in-the-wall gang and some 19th century Robber Barons take over the Enterprise. Then in a plot twist you acquire Wyatt Earp's badge and Carnegie's tea set.

  • Humans want scarcity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by imgod2u ( 812837 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @12:36PM (#50088967) Homepage

    I think the idea of a "post scarcity" world is incompatible with some pretty basic human psychology. Even in the modern world, there are some resources (information) that have, for all practical purposes, become infinitely available. Yes, getting access to it isn't universal yet, but even amongst those who have a broadband connection, information is still locked away behind paywalls, media stores, etc.

    This leads me to think we'll always have some kind of scarcity, even if it's artificial scarcity. Because there will always be some things that aren't infinitely available. As technology increases, those finite things won't be material, resources or even dare I say it energy but it could very well be abstract things like ideas (copyright) and inventions (patent). Part of it is probably that people need distinction in order to differentiate themselves from their peers. Another is just pure greed; some people like being perceived as better than others.

  • by WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @12:36PM (#50088971)

    It's a nice picture of a possible future, but you have to reserve some skepticism whenever the story starts contradicting what appears to be constants of human interaction.

    For instance, look at the online communities which have similar motivational incentives- no money, just "prestige". What is it like to be a member of such communities?

    Even in academia, when times are good and the money is available to any credible researcher with a reasonable research project, how do they act to each other and what do they do to each other?

    The fact is that "reputation" is a nice word for status which is always shorthand for "relative status" which implies a zero sum game for attention and recognition.

    What do people do to each other within that kind of game? Because if you're my competitor and I can ruin you through underhanded means, then I come out on top. Don't kid yourself, making people smarter or richer does not allievate or even abate these dynamics.

    How much of the bad things that happen in the world are because the poor are ruining everything for the rest of us? How much are because people with an unthinkable amount of money, post-money people, are behaving in anti-social ways?

    Then there's the underlying, ultimate competition - the competition for mates. How is that going to be mitigated
    in a post momey world? Do the current crop of post money people behave in a relaxed, egalitarian fashion or are they underhanded, status seeking, manipulative, competitors who stop at nothing to satiate their ever-expanding, ever shifting desires?

    The REAL revolution that's so far out there in terms of thinkability is the one where science learns enough about why humans behave they way they do that they can control it and shape it. You know that that is REAL science fiction because whenever you hear someone say something like that, your imagination fills with visions of what a dystopia that would lead to.

    The reason we have that reaction is because of the set of facts I was talking about in the beginning of the post- what people are like- post-money or not. The idea that people would naturally and robustly be inclined to act in reliably decent ways such that, say, we would not need a police force to stop criminals and terrorists from doing what it is they want to do, is totally unthinkable science fiction.

    Even Gene Roddenberry didn't go there, except in episodes where he wanted to show what a false veneer any such society ultimately was.

    That is all we know about humans and what humans are inclined to act like and that's the point. It's not a revolution if it's not revolutionary and making stuff for cheap is not a revolution, it's an evolution.

    It's not going to take away the badness of the world or even much mitigate it, at least for people living in developed nations.

    For people in developing nations, yes, it will be amaterial godsend and yes, that would be a huge and welcome event.

    • Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling, looking for a non-negative upvoted post... No one believes the world will, or even can, get better. Not even with magic technology. For the record, neither do I, not really, not deep down. I want to believe. I have kids, I want to think that their lives could be better than mine, that pain and suffering and poverty and wasted purposeless lives can become extremely rare. But I don't, you don't, why is that? Something is wrong with us, something deep, thick and sickly. The ves
      • by WOOFYGOOFY ( 1334993 ) on Saturday July 11, 2015 @05:59PM (#50090495)

        Consider that what we are may not remain static; that's where I get my hope from.

        Most people are good some of the time, even saintly (secularly considered). We're not just , you know, totally divorced from goodness.

        But as we are, we have brains created under evolutionary pressures which are effectively a bunch of hacks, "designed" not for goodness or beneficience but for survival in the near-zero-sum-game we call natural selection.

        You have to believe that we can learn enough about ourselves to tweak ourselves, to close the difference between the best person you know and the worst.

        Yes, if we just keep on giving ourselves more nad more powerful technology without making our selves the target of that technology in the way I mean, then we're fucked. We're fucked just for the reasons Einstein said:

        "Many persons have inquired concerning a recent message of mine that âa new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels.â(TM) Often in evolutionary processes a species must adapt to new conditions in order to survive. Today the atomic bomb has altered profoundly the nature of the world as we know it, and the human race consequently finds itself in a new habitat to which it must adapt its thinking. In light of new knowledgeâ¦an eventual world state is not just desirable in the name of brotherhood, it is necessary for survival. ..Today we must abandon competition and secure cooperation. This must be the central fact in all our considerations of international affairs; otherwise we face certain disaster. Past thinking and methods did not prevent world wars. Future thinking must prevent wars."

        Just substitute "future brains" for "future thinking"

  • Seems like TFA is saying that if we don't have to work to live, we're free to live to work.

  • We are already at a point (in western countries) where most stuff is dirt cheap. If I didn't worry about style or location, I could re-start my life each month from almost nothing. What this means is that the thing that differentiates the rich from the average is not wealth but control. The powerful can control my access to stuff by setting the prices and rules/laws. The most powerful are the lawmakers - most got there (or were substantially helped to get there by wealth.
  • ... Star trek's federation is basically a "post economy"... like post modern... you're beyond economics. And the only way you get beyond economics is if you're beyond scarcity. Economics are a way of rationing finite resources. We only have so many of anything. How do we determine who gets what and who doesn't? Demand always exceeds supply.

    A post economy is one in which supply exceeds demand. Where you have more stuff than anyone actually wants.

    We're no where near that.

    Our 3d printers etc might let us produ

  • Anna North writes about "Star Trek'"s "post-economic" system, in which money no longer exists and anything you want can be made in a replicator, essentially for free. [...] "You work to increase your prestige. You want to be the best captain or the best scientist in the entire galaxy. And many other people are working to do that, as well. It's very meritocratic."

    We are already pretty much in a post-scarcity economy in places like the US and Europe. Has that gotten rid of money? Of course not. Money is mainl

  • The economy of Gideon
  • ...I dispute that it would be such a utopia in any case.

    We (in the Western world) live in the most benign circumstances ever in human history.
    We largely have no fear of death by war, plague, famine, or pestilence. We live longer than ever before, and our primary health problems stem from TOO MUCH FOOD. Violence is steadily decreasing, and average wealth & comfort constantly improving. The average American lives better than a king of only several decades ago, and in fact has many abilities at the touch of a button that the greatest emperors never dreamed of.

    Nevertheless...as our comforts increase, so does our bitching. Every imagined grievance, every contrived slight prompts paens of ceaseless grief over how horrible everything is.

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