Scarcity is Becoming Obsolete, Are We?

by Zedagain on July 11, 2010

I like talking about change. I am very optimistic about the future. All the things that challenge our world are changing.

In the past, society was based upon scarcity. People wanted access to things they could not have. People started to exchange goods they had access to for other desirable goods. To facilitate this societies created currency, a portable representation of assets. Barter changed to commerce.

Commerce is great. For a three year monthly cash commitment to a mobility provider ( and a small start up payment, I got this sweet iPhone I am typing this blog on. This is very reasonable when compared to a feudal barter transaction! Feudal Zack might have wanted access to the duke’s library and archives ( the nearest communication and information analogue I could think of ). What would that have cost me?! My life indentured to a duke as his scribe? He certainly wouldn’t let me have 24/7 access to the Internet and a low day time minutes rate!

The problem with commerce is that it depends on scarcity. Technology is pushing against that barrier. Would commerce work in a society based on abundance? Probably not. If a freely accessible energy source was tapped would our society be poised to use it? If distribution was not a concern would we have shipping magnates? If production was reduced to a 3D printer that could self replicate would we need production lines or slaves making phones in some other country? I doubt it.

So what could a society barter in a world without want? Artistic expression? Information architecture and discourse? Unique insights and divine interpretations? It sounds cool. Like a Greece inspired Olympus conclave.

There is also the opposite possibility. Horror films and science fiction stories love to frighten the audience with a world where abundance is withheld from Joe Everyman. Freedoms and liberties suspended. My favorite two are 1984 and The Island. 1984 has been heavily dissected but is very illuminating anyway, history and information is altered, controlled, destroyed or withheld to control three mighty societies. The Island is very blunt in it’s criticism of technology unfettered but features a society who creates a small internalized society and harvests from it.

As a society we need to be poised to alter with these winds of change. I would rather be writing haiku than doublespeak.

Fleeting time well spent.
Our changes leave us behind.
~singularity haiku by Zack

Govt inc 2(taxation) 2 aid troops.
~ newspeak

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Pharmacy technician job description July 22, 2010 at 8:53 am

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Wade July 23, 2010 at 9:58 pm

I think scarcity could become a none issue if we could all work together. I think the Internet might offer us some hope of this type of cooperation. Even in flaming forum wars there is one thing people forget and that is the fact that these people are interacting at all.


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