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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, Insightful) by bucc5062 on Monday March 24 2014, @01:49AM

    by bucc5062 (699) on Monday March 24 2014, @01:49AM (#20040)

    "when Napster enabled millions of people to share music without paying the producers and artists, wreaking havoc on the music industry"

    Hold on a second, I was around when Napster hit the internet and one thing it did not do is wreak havoc on the music industry. Yes, people could share music files, and yes, some tended to enjoy the "freedom" napster provided, but there were many that also used it to try before you buy. Had Napster been allowed to continue, and had the music industry not revealed publicly just how much a greedy fuck they are, then the industry may have transformed more naturally into a digital environment where artists tested the waters, people tried, bought and a new balance in economy would have been found. RIAA put the cookie jar up on the shelf without thinking that it only make us more wanting of what we cannot have.

    As to the rest, it is doubtful that this planet can switch over to a more balanced economics that is a benefit for all. If you replace people with robots without figuring out how to have people still feel valued then the only path is ugliness. If you do not figure out a way to have people be able to do more then survive, then we will return to a new dark age (albeit slowly).

    When wealth is condensed to the very top and the very few, the system will fail. How, when does not really matter, just that it will.

    When wealth is smoothed, when there is a velocity to Money then a society can grow whether or not peopled "work". IF we want people to work then it is in the direction robots cannot or are not effective at performing tasks. Art, healthcare, animal care, science, exploration?

    We have (are rapidly) reached(ing) a point in human existence where greed, narcissistic behavior is a drag, not a fuel to growth. the line from the Matrix is sadly starting to become real, We are a virus, uncaring that we grow to the point where we kill off the host (our planet and/or our species). Organismic that learn to coexist, work together, they tend to last.

    The more things change, the more they look the same
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  • (Score: 1) by The Archon V2.0 on Monday March 24 2014, @06:17AM

    by The Archon V2.0 (3887) on Monday March 24 2014, @06:17AM (#20107)
    Oh, no, Napster is definitely to the American producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone. Oh, and anything in the public domain becomes soiled and haggard, barren of its previous virtues, so copyright needs to be even longer. Yeah.
    • (Score: 2) by bucc5062 on Monday March 24 2014, @12:12PM

      by bucc5062 (699) on Monday March 24 2014, @12:12PM (#20168)

      Most of that did not make sense.

      I can perhaps understand that music producers (not creators) did not like Napster. It was a system of distribution that scared the hell out of them for their inability to control it. As to the public, it was at best a boon, for the most part a new thing to check out. Even before itunes came sites like allmp3s and others that allowed someone to buy music at a price that was in line with its value. Yeah, it sucked that the artist did not get the loin's share of those pennies, but that was not the fault of early sellers, it was the bullshit contracts and law that gave power to producers and record owners.

      Napster opened pandora's Box and the *IAA have not ever been able to close that lid since.

      The more things change, the more they look the same
  • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday March 24 2014, @01:28PM

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Monday March 24 2014, @01:28PM (#20200)

    The simple answer to this problem is instituting a basic income. Give every citizen in society a monthly paycheck, regardless of whether they work or not, so that they have a minimum income which keeps them out of poverty and supplies their basic needs, and keeps them from being too stressed out over financial problems. Couple that with a decent universal education (which includes lessons on money management so they don't waste what they're given) and universal healthcare, and you'll have a society where people can pursue what interests them without the many problems that poverty cause today. It's sorta like communism, except that if you want to afford more than your basic paycheck gives you, you have to find a way of earning more money, such as by getting a job, preferably a high-paying job (just like today, just without the threat of starvation and homelessness if you fail). But unlike today's welfare programs, you don't have to worry about losing your benefits by working.