Talk:Post-scarcity/How do we get from here to there?

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The way I see it, the world is an ecosystem with competing organizational models. If I want to execute some project - regardless of what it is - I have a choice of vehicles to hop into:

  • Informal good-faith collaboration: I get together with my mates and we do it. This was the dominant organizational model in prehistory, until slavery proved more a more powerful vehicle.
  • Coercion/slavery: I force or intimidate people to do the project for me. This replaced informal collaboration at the dawn of civilization (around Babylonian times) and reigned until the Middle Ages. Then mutually-beneficial agreements proved more effective and capitalism became dominant.
  • Capitalism: I set up a private enterprise that is privately owned and privately funded. We make agreements (whether honest or dishonest) with others entities like customers and suppliers.
  • Charity: I set up a non-profit. This is privately owned and publicly funded on a voluntary basis.
  • State socialism: I try to arrange a state-run, tax-funded project. Owned by the state, publicly funded on a compulsory basis.
  • The commons: I open up the project to everyone. Owned by the crowd (or you could say ownerless). Requires minimal funding which can come from donations (e.g. Kickstarter) or capitalism (selling ads/hardware)

(This is not an exhaustive list.) The interesting thing is that these vehicles all exist alongside one another, and they compete for market share. People say we live in a capitalist society; this is mistaken black-and-white thinking. Sure, many ventures use capitalism, but it's not the only game in town. There is the welfare system, public health and education, Wikipedia, charities, ecovillages etc. These non-capitalist ventures are a part of humanity's value-creating ecosystem.

Although capitalism certainly makes the majority of material goods and food in the Western world as things stand. CharlesC 02:10, 17 February 2012 (CET)
Exactly. It's the dominant model, but it's not the only game in town. I think the first step is to expand the other models to the point where somebody can at least survive without reliance on capitalism. I don't think that's too much to ask. --Balatro 00:36, 22 February 2012 (CET)
Also, it varies a lot from one part of "the Western world" to another. In Sweden, for instance, a greater proportion of 'stuff' (for want of a better word) happens through the state than in the USA. --Balatro 00:42, 22 February 2012 (CET)

Slavery outcompeted informal collaboration 6000 years ago. Capitalism outcompeted slavery 500 years ago. In these interesting times commons-based manufacturing is starting to look like it might outcompete capitalism. With every month that goes by, commons-based manufacturing becomes cheaper, it tackles more sophisticated problems like space-travel, it stockpiles all kinds of things of value. This trend looks set to continue.

What happens when commons-based manufacturing becomes radically more effective than capitalism? Well, in a word: AdCiv happens. commons-based manufacturing takes over from capitalism as the dominant vehicle for supplying food, medicine, hardware, software etc. Scarcity ceases to exist, because value is created within a model based on sharing, rather than one based on rationing.

The transition does not happen all at once, but one industry at a time. It is at different stages in different industries:

  • There are industries where the fight is over and capitalism has lost to the commons. Music is the big one. The encyclopedia industry is another; no one would even consider setting up a private business selling encyclopedias.
I'm not sure if I quite agree that fight is over quite yet in the music industry. There is piracy which of course is not commons (not legally anyway) and Apple is still doing a roaring trade with iTunes. Most music people listen to is still commercial music, I would guess. However there is a huge opportunity to let more people make and share their music, especially if they were supported by a largely (or wholly) automated infrastructure. Make it because they simply want to and share it because the more people listen to it, the better the artist feels (rather than doing it as a business). CharlesC 02:14, 17 February 2012 (CET)
You're right, of course. I was exaggerating a bit for dramatic effect! But the fact is that I and most of my friends have spent the past few years in a post-scarcity situation with regard to music (and movies and TV, for that matter). Any music we want is at our fingertips for free.--Balatro 00:36, 22 February 2012 (CET)
  • There are industries where commons-based and private ventures compete, with greater or lesser market shares depending on the industry. In computer operating systems, the commons has about a 1-2% market share. In web browsers it has about 50%. In 3D printing it is growing at breakneck speed. The open-source AK-47 is probably the biggest player in the machine gun market.
  • There are industries where commons-based manufacturing controls a tiny speck of the market. How much of the world's energy is generated by open-source wind turbines? How much of the world's food is grown in Windowfarms and community gardens? What percentage of all cars are open-hardware cars? But things change so fast nowadays, and the commons builds on its successes so inexorably, that it could go from a 0.0001% share to being a serious player within a decade.

How do we get from here to there? Survival of the fittest. The new co-operative model that has evolved simply outcompetes the old competitive model. --Balatro 02:52, 9 February 2012 (CET)

Anyway, nicely put! CharlesC 02:10, 17 February 2012 (CET)