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posted by LaminatorX on Sunday March 23 2014, @11:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the Where's-my-20-hour-work-week? dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

"Jeremy Rifkin writes in the NYT that the inherent dynamism of competitive markets is bringing down costs so far that many goods and services are becoming nearly free, abundant, and no longer subject to market forces and while economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring those costs to near zero. The first inkling of this paradox at the heart of capitalism came in 1999 when Napster enabled millions of people to share music without paying the producers and artists, wreaking havoc on the music industry. Similar phenomena went on to severely disrupt the newspaper and book publishing industries. The huge reduction in marginal cost is now beginning to reshape energy, manufacturing and education. "Although the fixed costs of solar and wind technology are somewhat pricey, the cost of capturing each unit of [renewable] energy beyond that is low (PDF)," says Rifkin. As for manufacturing "thousands of hobbyists are already making their own products using 3-D printers, open-source software and recycled plastic as feedstock, at near zero marginal cost" and more than six million students are enrolled in "free massive open online courses, the content of which is distributed at near zero marginal cost."

But nowhere is the zero marginal cost phenomenon having more impact than the labor market, where workerless factories and offices, virtual retailing and automated logistics and transport networks are becoming more prevalent. What this means according to Rifkin is that new employment opportunities will lie in the collaborative commons in fields that tend to be nonprofit and strengthen social infrastructure like health care, aiding the poor, environmental restoration, child care, care for the elderly, and the promotion of the arts and recreation. "As for the capitalist system, it is likely to remain with us far into the future, albeit in a more streamlined role, primarily as an aggregator of network services and solutions, allowing it to thrive as a powerful niche player in the coming era. We are, however, entering a world partly beyond markets, where we are learning how to live together in an increasingly interdependent, collaborative, global commons.""

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Hartree on Monday March 24 2014, @01:18AM

    by Hartree (195) on Monday March 24 2014, @01:18AM (#20029)

    As in, the Jeremy Rifkin who in 1977 was doing everything he could to get genetic technology stopped?

    I sure hadn't heard that name in quite a while.

    If his position had held up when congress voted on it, it wasn't just GM food that couldn't have been worked on, but vast areas of current biochemistry and medical research, as we'd never have been able to develop the tools needed to do it. I doubt the Human Genome Project could even have been undertaken.

    He was at the forefront in decrying humanity "playing god".

    His book "Algeny" was not only against genetic technology, but also a criticism of Darwinism and evolutionary theory in itself. He even gets quoted by the creationists (though he's not one himself).

    As Stephen J Gould said of that book: I regard Algeny as a cleverly constructed tract of anti-intellectual propaganda masquerading as scholarship.

    If you want an anti-intellectual, he was it. He seems to have re-invented himself. His current wikipedia entry reads as though it was written by a publicist.

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  • (Score: 1) by chloride on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:24PM

    by chloride (3341) on Tuesday March 25 2014, @12:24PM (#20919)

    Same reaction. My first thought was "is there another Jeremy Rifkin?" I had to do some searching to verify that it's the same person. I view him to be a Luddite. Interestingly, his reaction against genetic research (not just "engineering") is not clearly discussed in places like his Wikipedia article. He seems to have distanced himself from his (very energetic) stands in the '70s.