Quora – Would the world have no worries if everything was free?

Quora – Would the world have no worries if everything was free?

[ 19/2/20 ]

Short answer no.

Longer answer is more complex.

Nothing is free of consequences. Everything we do has impacts over space and time.

One of the issues we have is around some of the assumptions that worked for our economic system in the past that are starting to seriously fail now.

One of those is the abstract idea of money, the idea that there can be a single arbitrage point between all types of value, and the ideas around how to allocate such a thing.

In the past, all people had a “labour value” – an ability to contribute in some way that would have value to someone else.

Advanced automation is changing that fundamentally.

By around the end of this decade the cost of making automated systems that are more capable than human beings in all productive metrics will be less than the maintenance costs of a human being.

Such automation gives us the technical capacity to produce all the goods and services that most people reasonably need, but the lack of demand for labour will mean that most people will not have access to the abstract metric of value (money) using traditional mechanisms that have mostly worked to date.

Making things free doesn’t work, as there is no metric to match supply and demand.

Ensuring that everyone has enough money to meet their reasonable needs might work – at least long enough to give us time to develop alternative suites of systems to perform all the many levels of extremely complex functions that our many levels of economic systems do currently.

So the idea that one has to work to survive may go, and there will always be an aspect of reward for required work, and that is likely to become a very small part of the lives of many. And that immediately gets very complex.

So there is an aspect of “free” present in such a set of developments, and nothing complex is ever entirely free; as complexity requires boundaries if it is to survive (that is a basic aspect of physics and complexity).

To exist within a system that is nested within sets of infinities is to eternally have unknowns and things to adapt to and to mitigate against. Infinities have that unsettling quality of eternal surprise, eternal unknowns.

I am all for freedom, to the greatest extent possible in reality; and freedom without responsibility is always and necessarily self destructive. Boundaries are essential, and they are ever evolving, ever changing, eternally uncertain, necessarily.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
This entry was posted in economics, Our Future, Politics, Technology, understanding and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comment and critique welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s