Post-capitalism: An automated economy
The economy of the future
This article is a follow-up to How technology will reinvent society, which examines the technological factors that will drive humanity toward the adoption of the economic system outlined in this article.
Everything is getting updated. Industry after industry is being disrupted, from automobiles to media to even space. Education, too, is slowly going online. There are now even proposals to move voting online, and in more radical cases, allow constituents — rather than politicians — to digitally decide key issues.
Well, almost everything is getting updated. There is one thing that it seems nobody has thought of updating.
So what is this one thing? Both the private and public sector are being disrupted like never before, so what could it be? What’s been left out?
I’ll tell you what: The economy.
Update the economy?! What on earth is that supposed to mean?
Let’s take a look.
The problem with the economy
At the moment, the economy works something like this: A chaotic mess of random people trading random things for other random things. The economy works by taking the approach of throwing shit at the wall and seeing what sticks — and statistically, only about 4% of it sticks.
Doesn’t exactly seem like an incredibly efficient method of producing and distributing resources, right? Moreover, we’ve taken to just hoping that everything runs smoothly enough without the need for too much intervention by government or law enforcement.
So, in sum, everybody is reduced to merely guessing what people want. That’s how the economy works.
Seems a little outdated, right?
Well, that’s because it is.
Money (currency) is literally ancient. It’s been used for thousands of years. Not only is it antiquated and outdated, but it is alarmingly inaccurate and inefficient — it’s simply primitive.
The purpose of money is to measure demand, the collective will of a society, and it needs an update. We need a new demand-o-meter, and over the next couple of decades, this fact will become more and more clear — and urgent.
Forget Adam Smith’s imaginary invisible hand that looks after the allocation of resources, we need a real invisible hand.
Updating the demand-o-meter
So how am I suggesting we update the economy? What am I suggesting we replace it with? Without that ancient technology called money, how will society be able to measure demand and ensure everyone is able to get what they need — from housing to transport to food to entertainment?
This is how: By measuring demand directly. This is done by creating what I call a structured political network (SPN).
In another article of mine where I argue against basic income, I briefly explained how SPNs would measure (and fulfil) demand:
An SPN is a network of sensors, A.I., and machines. The sensors measure demand, A.I. meets that demand by using machines to produce and distribute what is needed.
In other words, a network of technologies that work to intelligently fulfill demand.
Let’s take a closer look at SPNs.
As technologies become ever increasingly powerful and affordable, and as everything becomes connected to the internet, we will be faced with an abundance of possibilities.
The creation of a global SPN is one of those possibilities.
The concept behind SPNs is that the ubiquity of tools and communications technologies, and the subsequent rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), will enable human needs and desires to be met in a radically more efficient and desirable manner.
For example, ubiquitous sensors could compile data about everything, from popular clothing, accommodation, transport routes, food, activities — everything. All of this data can then be interpreted by artificial intelligences (A.I.s) that resolve demand with autonomous machines.
In addition, human feedback and input could be added into the mix. All of this data would be universally accessible (the data would be decoupled from individuals, for privacy’s sake) and able to be visualized geographically. Subsequently, communities — if desired — could work together to design their environment based on the demand for certain things.
All of this may sound a little confusing, so I’ll visualize the process for you.
Globe management process
Data from ubiquitous sensors, as well community feedback and other human input, would all be compiled to measure collective demand.
All of this information would be compiled, and universally accessible, and A.I.s work to resolve this demand by altering the behaviors and activities of autonomous technologies that work to fulfill demand.
In addition, communities are able to use this data to manually resolve demand — for example, a community might design a magnificent, postmodern library or sports center.
Finally, based on the resolutions provided based on demand, autonomous technologies (machines/tools) would execute that resolution.
Overall, it goes like this:
Demand → Resolution → Execution
That’s the basic process of a structured political network. That’s how it goes about managing the globe. This is the economy of the future:
I’ll clarify these terms so that they are not misunderstood.
- Sensors: Sensors would be ubiquitous, able to supply data about everything. For example, how many people use a certain resort, what rooms are the most popular, what people’s favorite parts of the swimming pool are, the most popular drinks and meals, the songs that get the best reaction, people’s favorite aspects of the resort, and so on.
- Feedback: If people choose, they can provide brief feedback on things. In the resort example, they could possibly complete a brief survey or simply send some suggestions.
- Database: All of the information collected above would be compiled into a universally accessible database. This information could be visualized as a virtual globe able to represent demand for certain things in certain areas —demand density.
- A.I.: Artificial intelligence makes sense of all this data and modifies the environment accordingly. In the resort example, perhaps it would produce more popular meals and songs while reducing unpopular ones. Likewise, it might redesign the resort to have a more dramatic swimming pool, and rooms with floor to ceiling glass looking out onto palms and the beach — if data indicated that that was popular.
- Proposals: Citizens can collaborate and design resolutions to demand. For example, if the resort were extraordinarily popular, people could collaborate to design a similar resort, but perhaps one of a more modern, abstract, and boundary-pushing style. Similarly, perhaps citizens could design the aesthetics of a supersonic jet that transports people to the hotel. If citizens want to get involved in the production process, not everything need be outsourced to A.I.
- Tools: In other words, physical technologies such as machines, transport, robots, 3D printers, nanobots, etc. A.I.s can use all of these autonomous technologies to execute resolutions to demand (such as implementing citizen proposals or adjusting things to meet increased demand).
All in all
This system — SPNs — is future-proof. It works perfectly in a society filled with automated transport, factories and supply chains. Similarly, it works perfectly (if not more so) in a Kurweilian world of utility fogs, nanobot-enabled telepathy and virtual reality, intelligence enhancement, and post-biological humans.
- Demand is measured using ‘smart dust’ sensors OR by recording dopamine, adrenaline, and other brain chemicals with nanobots…
- Resolutions are executed using autonomous factories, robots, and self-driving vehicles OR by rearranging collaborative nanobots (i.e. utility fogs) that can arrange (and then repeatedly rearrange) themselves to take the form of anything from houses, to smartphones, to planes…
… structured political networks are the way of the future. SPNs are adaptable, flexible, and future-proof.
The future of economics and politics (i.e. globe management) lie in structured political networks or, at the very least, a system of remarkable likeness.
SPNs will run the world when all jobs have been eliminated and technology is capable of fulfilling all basic human needs.
This is how the world will function without money.
As technology continues to accelerate, capitalism and our current political and economic systems will fall away. SPNs will rise in their place.