New century, new tools but what future are you creating?
“The role of humans as the most important factor of production is bound to diminish in the same way that the role of horses … was first diminished and then eliminated.” Nobel Prize–winning economist Wassily Leontief, 1983
Very broadly, a paradigm is about the way you perceive, interpret and live your life. In one where there are so many of us but money is scarce and you need money to survive, doesn’t money (and status) motivate and reward people to do things?
Since this signals you to be a money-chasing machine — to constantly (and blindly) battle anyone/anything that gets in your way — have the world wars really ended? Or have they evolved into Business-as-usual where common sense goes out the window as your livelihood depends on not understanding anything beyond your self-preservation?
Based on artificial Scarcity, has the incumbent paradigm experientially “groomed” you to be ‘a clock thinker’ in your respective survival silo/bubble (and to be systemically blind)?
So, although a transition is underway, do you see how we are being self-organized to shove each other from the world’s dumbest idea into the world’s most dangerous idea?
This is similar to the late 1960’s, when private sector firms in the US were starting to feel the initial pressures of global competition. Like many today, people had desperately wanted quick fixes.
That’s when Milton Friedman published a very confusing New York Times article in 1970, titled ‘The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.’ After he retired from GE, Jack Welch even admitted the concept of shareholder value focusing on consistent quarterly results was “the dumbest idea of the world.”
However, that idea has infiltrated and shaped all our lives as we are like fish in the water.
In between physical and digital Scarcity
Until 2004, the Internet was decentralized, and a startup could go public with a business plan written on a single sheet of paper (single sided). But that year, Google IPOed and Facebook was launched.
Surveillance capitalism has since flipped us from customers being served to products being sold. Based on more of the same thinking and doing, doesn’t surveillance capitalism really mean ‘post capitalism’ and in a ‘post-monetary’ world, isn’t the future of money the data we generate?
Google and Apple have embraced open source. In 2014, TechRepublic recognized Facebook as the world’s biggest open source actor and Tesla also made available all its patents for other manufacturers to copy. Microsoft recently open sourced 60,000 patents while Amazon has opened its ‘Machine Learning University’ to all developers.
On 21 June 2018, Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, spoke about how “Data is the new oil” and called for “a new world order.” Was he signaling technocrats to self-organize, to build and to champion the new ‘smart’ infrastructure and to eventually replace money with our data (and all our assets)?
Self-organizing to perpetuate the Age of Nonsense
As you join the race for recognition, convenience, speed and bargains, here’s Tom Goodwin on how we self-organized to create the initial digital Business-as-usual model:
“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.”
In 2018, he opined how three years had flipped the above scenario:
“The world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, is buying cars. The world’s most popular media company, Facebook, now commissions content. The world’s most valuable retailer is now Amazon, and has more than 350 stores. And the world’s largest hospitality provider, Airbnb, increasingly owns real estate.”
Because instead of Big Business paying most of us a decent salary to buy the goods and services we produce, this digital trend revolves around us creating the value and buying their services and products while all the key benefits (wealth) end up in the pockets of the Big Business and their owners.
Automation, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have (gradually, initially) been replacing humans.
Meanwhile, the gig/freelance economy has emerged as the 21st century’s global factory on demand — marketed as your having freedom, autonomy, and self-determination but where ‘employees’ have no benefits.
According to a 2016 Spera report:
- In the next five years, half of the United Kingdom’s working population may be self-employed.
- Independent workers comprise the fastest growing group in the European Union labor market: A 45% rise from 2012 to 2013.
- India’s 15 million independent workforce is the world’s second largest, filling about 40% of the world’s freelance jobs, and their ranks continue to grow.
The so-called sharing economy has many renting out their spare capacities — whether that’s themselves, their homes, cars or whatever else they have. We even volunteer our time, ideas and intellect for free on social media platforms, oblivious to how algorithms are learning about us from what we share to create value for the digital oligarchs.
With better, faster, cheaper as their mantra, what profit-maximizing businesses will want to keep shelling out money to humans they no longer need to employ?
As the cost of living shots up and money scarcity addicts you to surviving only for yourself (and your loved ones), we are now being lured to DIY (with our time, efforts and money) a very different reality from what we know today. This latest transition may even standardize what it means to be a sustainable human.
Because as we continue to think and live ‘I win, you lose,’ wouldn’t our individual data all be aggregated and turned into Big Data — the future of money — for absolute control?
Why? Because the Business-as-usual function of extracting our value based on ‘I win, you lose’ to maximize profits has not changed one iota. Based on artificial Scarcity, wouldn’t the new digital tools simply accelerate the extraction of the rest of our value from cradle to grave?
Do these social movements have the answer?
To explore, get your copy of Social movements powering the future of money, the first of two or three books to try to explain why we need a paradigm shift from artificial Scarcity to True Abundance.
Our future depends on you!!
About twenty or so years ago, Prince perhaps said it best: “Don’t be fooled by the Internet.”