Joe, great article.
Collectively, we’ve been aware of this since the first whispers of “The Cayman’s” or “Swiss Bank Accounts”- it’s like a perpetually festering boil on the backside of a supermodel that no one really wants to look at. Admittedly, I’ve spent the better part of the last two decades deconstructing the social psychology behind such economic self-sabotage, wringing my hands in worry over the fate of my children in the face of it all.
Recently, however, I’ve had a series of epiphanies that have shifted my entire consciousness.
- My first epiphany was the deconstruction money into its three existential representations. Energy, Agency and Time. If you have a sufficient amount of those three, you can accomplish pretty much anything with zero need for money.
- Energy. When you follow the price/cost performance trajectories that renewable energy sources are currently following, you get to near unlimited energy at zero marginal cost in a relatively short amount of time. With the current developments in the energy storage fields, this seems to be a foregone conclusion. No other market has the overall geopolitical influence that energy has. Period.
- Agency. Technology is bringing about ephemeralization faster than any market can correct for and is only increasing in speed and scope. This is internet inertia 101. The internet dematerializes, decentralizes, demonetizes and compounds global human agency through instantaneous information. Exponentially faster, smaller, smarter, cheaper technologies are beginning to outpace all current institutional paradigms at a rate that everyone is just now beginning to “feel”.
- Time. Four words. Automation plus artificial intelligence. Additive manufacturing is beginning to segue into molecular manufacturing right now. It will be followed closely by atomically-precise manufacturing. Mix that with cheap energy and automation, let algorithms/AI handle marketing/resourcing/production/maintenance/distribution/customer service and you suddenly arrive at near full technological unemployment.
Capitalism’s biggest flaw is that it becomes a victim of its own phenomenal success. It demands profit with the least amount of expenditure. That fuels technological progress that ends up producing something for nothing. When you are making everything without the need for human labor, you suddenly arrive at the conclusion that a consumer-based economy dependent on money is doomed to collapse.
Taken to logical conclusions, the oligarchs are beginning to experience a major shakedown that will flow along these lines. Irreconcilable technological unemployment will force increased transparency, massive deflation and social upheaval until a full UBI is implemented. I see this as the only viable stopgap measure until we arrive at a fully resource-based economy. Resources are abundant. With renewable energy, AI controlled automation, and atomically-precise manufacturing- money suddenly becomes trivial.