Post-Scarcity Economics

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djolds1
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Post-Scarcity Economics

Post by djolds1 »

MSimon wrote:Time is money. A REAL space faring civilization is going to want to get from point A to point B in the shortest time consonant with economics.
I doubt we get into space in a major way before the First and Second Worlds at least achieve post-scarcity economies. The Cold War was our opening for that, and we punted on the militarization that would've been necessary to fuel civilian development. Given fab labs I think we're on the brink of a post-scarcity economy right now (say 10-30 years). Assuming polywell or one of the current "cousin" methods works, we're definitely there (rapid additive manufacturing using high strength materials plus VERY plentiful energy). I've spent the last few days trying to puzzle out how valuata in a post-scarcity economy works. Wrapping my head around it isn't easy; current notions of imports and exports of finished goods are kaput. Raw materials shipments can be scheduled with a long lead time, making time fungible, and templates for finished items can be sent digitally (i.e. shipment is instant or takes a few hours max to say Mars). If finished goods are so cheap as to be effectively free (think taking a drink at a public water fountain today), receipt of valuata as income to purchase them becomes pointless. Actual "time is money" shipment is IMO limited to people and rare one-off items, which would probably be small economic sectors.
Vae Victis

alexjrgreen
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Post by alexjrgreen »

Welcome to the new hunter-gatherer economy...
Ars artis est celare artem.

Luzr
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Re: Post-Scarcity Economics

Post by Luzr »

djolds1 wrote:
MSimon wrote:Time is money. A REAL space faring civilization is going to want to get from point A to point B in the shortest time consonant with economics.
I doubt we get into space in a major way before the First and Second Worlds at least achieve post-scarcity economies.
I agree. At this stage, manned space missions are most likely waste of money and time. We already know that humans can survive in the space. Not much point proving this again and again.

There is no more info that could not be obtained much more cheaply using robots.

Space colonisation has to wait before automated in-situ manufacturing is possible. That should be the focus for now.

Skipjack
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Post by Skipjack »

Space colonisation has to wait before automated in-situ manufacturing is possible. That should be the focus for now.
Actually what should be the focus is cheap and relyable transportation from earth to orbit. That should be the focus. And with cheap, I mean much cheaper than it is now. It has to be routine and it has to be affordable.
If we need breakthrough tech for this, then our focus should be on the development of that.

dweigert
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Post by dweigert »

See Lee Corry's Manna for a glimpse.

Aero
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Post by Aero »

You may want to take a close look at what colonial life was really like in the past. Then consider what it might be like in the future. In the past, due to a lack of coinage, colonist used tobacco as specie. (Three North American colonies did anyway). In the future, if there is no specie of value, we will invent one. Caloric based specie has been suggested, that is, food.

http://www.dinsdoc.com/andrews-1.htm

An interesting if somewhat difficult read.
Aero

Betruger
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Post by Betruger »

I'd say design novelties will be one of the top few scarcities left. I don't think food will be scarce enough for money. There's already labs working on synthetic meat, and it doesn't look too hard to grow exotic stuff in hydroponics.

Luzr
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Post by Luzr »

Skipjack wrote:
Space colonisation has to wait before automated in-situ manufacturing is possible. That should be the focus for now.
Actually what should be the focus is cheap and relyable transportation from earth to orbit. That should be the focus. And with cheap, I mean much cheaper than it is now. It has to be routine and it has to be affordable.
If we need breakthrough tech for this, then our focus should be on the development of that.
It is not unrelated. Today, you have to take a lot of matter per single human to the space with him.

Imagine that everything is manufactured in space. All you have to move there is human alone, with minimal support, to LEO. On LEO, the ship is intercepted by space manufactured module and then humans walk into this comfortable new home, leaving gravity well for ever. (That said, I consider the idea of colonizing other gravity wells especially stupid).

Also, until massive automated inspace manufacturing is achieved, there will be only a little incentive to move into the space and stay there. We need to reach a point when living in the space is better experience than living on the earth.

djolds1
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Post by djolds1 »

Aero wrote:You may want to take a close look at what colonial life was really like in the past. Then consider what it might be like in the future. In the past, due to a lack of coinage, colonist used tobacco as specie. (Three North American colonies did anyway). In the future, if there is no specie of value, we will invent one. Caloric based specie has been suggested, that is, food.

http://www.dinsdoc.com/andrews-1.htm

An interesting if somewhat difficult read.
One possibility I looked at was the 1930s Technocracy Movement's "Energy Accounting." Very socialist in the Stalinist "control-freak & massive bureaucracy" vein, but an interesting "post-scarcity" quasi-commodity backed form of spending.

This guy seems to have answered most of my questions, with perhaps generous admixtures from the related work of Dr. Paul Romer.
Luzr wrote:Imagine that everything is manufactured in space. All you have to move there is human alone, with minimal support, to LEO. On LEO, the ship is intercepted by space manufactured module and then humans walk into this comfortable new home, leaving gravity well for ever.
You would need minimal to moderate supplies of initial feedstock for the fabbers ("replicators"), at least for the first few missions/years. After that the process of infrastructure establishment is geometric.
Luzr wrote:(That said, I consider the idea of colonizing other gravity wells especially stupid).
Agreed, tho its a factor of the difficulty/cost of getting to space. The planets and major moons are safer bets, requiring less equipment at startup.
Luzr wrote:Also, until massive automated inspace manufacturing is achieved, there will be only a little incentive to move into the space and stay there. We need to reach a point when living in the space is better experience than living on the earth.
No, we just need to make the cost of migration bearable - like moving to Alaska. Not the most inviting clime, but we can get there, and we can live there.
Vae Victis

Luzr
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Post by Luzr »

djolds1 wrote:You would need minimal to moderate supplies of initial feedstock for the fabbers ("replicators"), at least for the first few missions/years. After that the process of infrastructure establishment is geometric.
Yes, but as long as these are automatons, they can be small.

Of course, one interesting line of thinking is how small the replicator system can get. I am not huge believer in "Diamon age" type of nanotechnology, but I guess somewhere on the scale of 100 tons, replicators might be possible in the near future.

One thing you have on your side is time. It does not matter too much how long it takes to produce the first replica... :)
No, we just need to make the cost of migration bearable - like moving to Alaska. Not the most inviting clime, but we can get there, and we can live there.
...if we have a reason.

JohnSmith
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Post by JohnSmith »

...if we have a reason.
Just like Alaska!

I wish there more fab labs around, and we could work on finding the minimum equipment set.

BenTC
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Re: Post-Scarcity Economics

Post by BenTC »

djolds1 wrote: I've spent the last few days trying to puzzle out how valuata in a post-scarcity economy works.
Post scarcity economics will have limiting factors like:
1. Social standing - development of a gift culture relying on 2 & 3
2. People's time and attention - not everything can happen at once
3. Information control - artificial scarcity produced by intellectual property laws

I would recommend the Culture series by Iain Banks - set in a post-scarce universe - although the post-scarce stuff is auxillary to the story lines.
Last edited by BenTC on Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

MirariNefas
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Post by MirariNefas »

There will be plenty of scarcity. It'll just all be service-sector scarcity. Everybody will want services, and they will do services to get the money to get services.

Lawyers, janitors, hair stylists, psychologists, teachers, blah blah etc will still be relevant. Because most people won't be employed in production, though, everyone will be able to afford a greater supply of services than before. Professional pedicures will be the norm.

jmc
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Post by jmc »

There will always be scarcity because people are infinitely greedy.

If their not moaning about the price of houses, they'll be moaning about the price of planets..

If their not moaning about the price of planets they'll be moaning about the price of galaxies.

By the way, androids could take care of service sector scarcity.

djolds1
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Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2007 8:03 am

Post by djolds1 »

Luzr wrote:Of course, one interesting line of thinking is how small the replicator system can get. I am not huge believer in "Diamond age" type of nanotechnology, but I guess somewhere on the scale of 100 tons, replicators might be possible in the near future.
Intro level post scarcity fabbers (see Fab@Home for a leading indicator) do not require the "nanotech and 'god-level' AI" of scifi scenarios.
Luzr wrote:
No, we just need to make the cost of migration bearable - like moving to Alaska. Not the most inviting clime, but we can get there, and we can live there.
...if we have a reason.
Just getting away from all those pestiferous cityfolk seems to work for Alaska. A "wealth rush" helps, but raw materials would still retain rarity value in a post scarcity economy.
BenTC wrote:Post scarcity economics will have limiting factors like:
1. Social standing - development of a gift culture relying on 2 & 3
2. People's time and attention - not everything can happen at once
3. Information control - artificial scarcity produced by intellectual property laws

I would recommend the Culture series by Iain Banks - set in a post-scarce universe - although the post-scarce stuff is auxillary to the story lines.
Looked at it. The Orion's Arm Worldbuilding site is a related set of ideas in encyclopedic form. Iain Banks openly admits that the Culture is pro-socialist wish fulfillment, which helped me not at all in elucidating how economics and money would function in the transitional centuries and beyond. Also, the Culture's "economy" depends on high-level management by the God AI "Minds"; again, worse than useless for thinking on probable realities.
MirariNefas wrote:There will be plenty of scarcity. It'll just all be service-sector scarcity. Everybody will want services, and they will do services to get the money to get services.
Probable. Take musicians - the music will be the loss leader, the concert tickets and backstage passes will be the items for sale. Current models of banking and fiat money (or simple reversion to a commodity backed currency) will serve adequately.
jmc wrote:There will always be scarcity because people are infinitely greedy.
Sure, greed and sloth are part of the human condition. My original question was how do they express themselves when what we think of as end consumer merchandise is as cheap as water at a public drinking fountain? Answer - redefine what we think of as end consumer merchandise. The failure to do so being why the IP industry (music, movies) is in such knots, and why buggy manufacturers went under in competition with early car companies. They all mis-defined what line of business they're in, and were/are thus oblivious to the opportunities presented by technological change.
jmc wrote:If their not moaning about the price of houses, they'll be moaning about the price of planets..
Territory will remain scarce for any foreseeable future.
Vae Victis

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