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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: 1) by m2o2r2g2 on Monday March 24 2014, @07:59AM

    by m2o2r2g2 (3673) on Monday March 24 2014, @07:59AM (#20128)

    As with all things human greed will be the deciding factor.

    Into the future, more and more of the capital will move towards those who already own it and see the benefit of increased efficiency. They will have to control the masses to stop revolt.

    When we get to the point of a large mass of people having nothing to do, if they are given sufficient entertainment and goods to not be outraged, it could be a peaceful transition to some kind of post scarcity society, where there are quelled masses ruled over like ancient Rome.

    If not there will be attempted revolt. Then it becomes a question of automated human suppression systems. If they are good then we can look forward to some kind of futuristic feudalism. If not then we could be looking at some kind of apocalyptic standoff or futuristic anarchy.

    Then there is always the issue of someone upsetting some eventual homeostasis by cyber attack. If the whole world is automated, the whole world is up for grabs by those with the technical know how.

  • (Score: 2) by metamonkey on Monday March 24 2014, @03:24PM

    by metamonkey (3174) on Monday March 24 2014, @03:24PM (#20285)

    I'm sure the powers that be are awfully tired of having soldiers with their stupid consciences operating the drones blowing up weddings and shit. First chance they can get, those guys are going to be replaced with AI. And domestic law enforcement is drooling to get in on that sweet, sweet UAV action.

    Give it 10 years and we're going to have 24/7 armed UAV surveillance and interdiction. Any "revolt" will be quickly quelled with a hellfire missile or twelve.

    Okay 3, 2, 1, let's jam.