While most of the points you make make sense from an exchange based way of thinking, they miss the point that full automation of processes allows universal abundance of any such good or service.
Anything universally abundant has zero market value.
Automation is making the very idea of exchange redundant.
Markets are rapidly approaching the point that they will deliver greater risk than benefit to most of us.
We really do need to start thinking about alternative, abundance based paradigms that deliver individual freedom and individual security — it seems that there are an infinite set of such things; but they are very difficult to even conceive of from within a market based paradigm.
Agree with your criticisms of Rifkin in a sense, in the sense that we are not there yet, and that the ideas of capital cost you raise are true right now; but not in the sense of where systemic trends are exponentially heading.
I have run a software company for over 30 years, and understand something of marketing, support costs, and the sorts of strategies required to exist in the current economic system. I also attended the 25th Foresight conference on Nano-technology and the future held at Google’s Palo Alto headquarters 5 years ago.
Given existing exponential trends, my thesis is that we could (not will necessarily, and the strategic option exists), develop fully automated systems that could deliver all of the essential services (including plumbing repair — it is not a great leap of complexity from a self driving car to a plumbing repair ‘bot), and that such systems would remove the efficacy of markets as a valuation tool, and would require a systemic rethink of effective ways of ensuring individual security and individual freedom in the necessarily exponentially expanding diversity of individual forms of self expression (freedom) present.
The progress of systems like Watson is real.
Go is not a trivial problem space, as chess arguably is.
Self driving cars are real — that isn’t a trivial problem space.
There are a lot of people who are very skilled programmers, very skilled thinkers, who are not significantly engaged in the current economic system because of the social damage their skills cause. Many of the best thinkers I know are in that category.
We live in a very complex, very dimensional, time and set of conceptual spaces.