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Is There a Future for Money?

In our digital age, where banks and even nations fail through reckless monetary spending and policies, it seems that our monetary system is becoming the big elephant in the room, yes even obsolete. Automation replacing humans seems to be one of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and may be the demise of the system itself leaving the looming possibility of fascism or military dictatorship to arise and flourish if we fail to arrive at any alternatives.

While some believe taking us back to the gold standard will fix things, and others believe that debt forgiveness is the solution, we hear talks about access/resource based economies, where we simply declare all of Earth's resources as the common heritage of mankind and make goods and services available to all without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude, through technological abundance.

In fact, let's rephrase the question. At what point in the future do you think that our technology will make automated systems possible and allow us to move out of a monetary system?

  • Sep 9 2012: IThink what the world needs at this moment is spiritual cash, that we make efforts that benefit whole society.
    I mean that we care about eachother, sometimes words have more value then money.
    Think this is possible with little effort to help eachother in life. People have to share what they feel,working together,concern about our environment,community etc.
    We only need the money for basic needs to live a normal life like food, a house,healthcare etc.
    At this time the world needs only love and this we cant buy,we just have to make a little effort to start with and will cost nothing.
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    Gail . 50+

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    Aug 19 2012: Bitcoin is just a less expensive way of printing money. It does nothing to end the destructive economic model that now enslaves the world. I'm a supporter of and believer in the moneyless society. But until more people become self-aware, and through that, begin educating themselves PROPERLY, we might well die out as a species first.

    Mathematicians and economists are saying that our economy cannot be sustained any longer than 2030 at the outside. (less than 20 years from now) but MANY are very worried that collapse is just around the corner. But for as long as people are ignorant about what's going on, it can be sustained until there are not enough consumers. Faith is holding it up now - faith brought about by ignorance.

    Now add bad farming practices to the mix - resulting in polluted & unsafe aquifers along with the loss of topsoil - all encouraged by our current economic policy. Now add global warming into the mix. Now add spiraling over-population into the mix. We're headed for a perfect storm, and again experts are saying that all will come to a head no later than 2030, when at least 28% of the earth's population will be starving/thirsting to death, and the good ol' USA will not be immune, nor will Europe.

    People should be learning about economics today, because it might well be fundamental to our survival as a species. The current paradigm was created with the need for poverty built in. The poor are the worker class. Adam Smith proposed that for his model to work, that the greater number of the children of the "race of workers" would have to die (of poverty related issues).

    People who are not awakened (self-aware) cannot see that we are committing suicide. No wonder the conspiracy theorists are saying that the illuminati will give us a great war or a plague to thin our numbers. Too many poor people will collapse the economy, and automation is giving us too many poor people.

    $$$ is an unsustainable idea.
    • Aug 19 2012: Thanks for your interesting insights! I couldn't agree more. Education is key to move our civilization ahead and evolve from this seemingly stagnating economy thus environment. By the way, do you have any sources on the mathematicians and economists saying that our economy cannot be sustained any longer than 2030? I would love to read about it. Cheers.
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    Aug 23 2012: Money is a system to exchange human efforts
  • Sep 12 2012: hi Mats,

    This is an excellent thought and i am for it and in complete line with your thoughts and i also believe that this is the only way to create awareness in all country. now the next step would be how to set up these awareness through internet media and be a part of that movement... all over the world...
    • Sep 13 2012: Absolutely. This is the challenge. How to spread awareness. It's starts with us though, and what we want to do in order to change things.
  • Sep 11 2012: Thank you for starting this conversation. Its interesting.

    I think we need to have some agreement about the purpose of money. To my mind, the purpose of money is that it allocates the products of human and machine labor to various peoples. Whether you like money or hate it, or think its fair or unfair, I think that we can generally agree that it currently does this.

    You are positing that essentially technology will eventually become so productive that there will be no limits, and therefore no need to decide who gets what because everyone will be able to have everything that they want.

    But there isn't a limit on human need (and there are still many fixed resources - land, water, air, energy, etc.), so I don't see money becoming obsolete in the sense of it providing a way to distribute goods and services. What an entirely automated society does obsolete is the fact that money can be earned through some sort of labor. We are positing now a future where there are thinking machines that can do creative/informational/research labor as well as producing all physical goods.

    In such a society, no one can make any claims to more resources than anyone else, because everyone is equally (non) productive. At least that the reasoning for inequality in a capitalist system. One fair system is for everyone to receive the same stipend - a completely egalitarian society. Another idea is to distribute money based on some other system, like moral worth (niceness = cash?) or some amorphous concept of "need". But this really begs the question of who or what decides these other criterion.

    Anyway, I feel to advance the conversation, its not so much about the death of money as it is about the death of work and the death of money from work.
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    Sep 10 2012: Indeed, Mats; the most intelligent sometimes destroy their forests, pollute their waters, foul their air and poison their food with pesticides and herbicides.... Certainly no one would be that stupid in the 21 century.... would they?
    • Sep 11 2012: "the most intelligent sometimes destroy their forests, pollute their waters, foul their air and poison their food with pesticides and herbicides"

      That's because the "most intelligent" people in the current socioeconomic system are the economists and they see natural resources and what naturally keeps us alive as an externality. If you cannot profit on it, it's basically an externality. The fact is that the monetary system is totally disconnected with the real world and the preservation of resources. It simply doesn't give a damn. And it's the system that perpetuate this kinda behavior. It's not people that are unsane, it's the system. It has always been.
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    Sep 9 2012: Exactly Mats. And there is very little evidence of any..... Collapse is imminent and the closer you live to the ground, the less you will fall.
    • Sep 10 2012: Very true, Craig. "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." - Darwin
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    • Sep 11 2012: I am glad. Critical thinking is a vital tool to evolve our society to a better one. If you are interested in how a moneyless society today could work, I highly recommend the book "The Best That Money Can't Buy" by Jacque Fresco.
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    Aug 31 2012: There is a future for money. Though in today's world it seems with the more value incentive placed in money the more value incentive is lost in future utility. Logic is key to where value is placed. In my ponderings I have come to believe in a deductive logic/argument systems value incentive is placed in a past notion of value while an abstract logic/argument system value incentive may be placed in a future/intangible notion of value. A system to utilize an equitable account of value incentive, I feel, a merging of the two, a deductive abstraction if you will, of value is in order whether there should be a voucher to display it or not.
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    • Aug 31 2012: Well, education and sharing of ideas is key to overcome these "disabilities" of looking forward. Implying that our "disability" to look forward is simply human nature is like saying that having any conversations about anything is completely useless because of our fixed set of values and behaviors dictated by human nature. If that was true, we would all still live in caves. By sharing ideas and trying things out we learn what works and what doesn't. How does this logic not apply to our way of economics? Why does finding solutions to our current socioeconomic problems seem pointless? Why is this not the time for sharing ideas and testing them out?
  • Aug 28 2012: One of the fundamental reasons for money is to have a means of distributing finite amounts of necessary resources.

    If we start thinking about what is required for modern living the first step would be to get to a situation where electricity can be free. Some ideas on the not so distant horizon that have potential include fusion energy, the process that can power stars for billions of years. I also like the idea of vibration scavenging, it could be placed anywhere and everywhere humans are. Where the simple act of moving could provide the power to run common devices.

    If electricity can become free the next step would be to be able to automate a process of creating food such as the replicator that has been mention. From there you then need free housing.

    Some of these are borderline science-ficton ideas such as star trek or matrix-esque(without the machine overlords) However science fiction has a history of becoming science fact where people realise the potential of an idea and then make it reality.

    If basic human needs can become free then there is scientific endeavour, luxury items and entertainment, with the actual materials required to create them being free all that is left are ideas.

    The established rich and powerful are likely to try and resist such changes, however if we continue to progress and manage to avoid destroying ourselves or decending into endless conflict or war, I think that it is ultimately inevitable.
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    Aug 28 2012: This is an excellent question. While I don't condone forcing a de facto socialist agenda onto a people, I'd love to see a city set up in the United States (my country of origin), where people could voluntarily live. You should check out video on YouTube of a very old man/inventor/futurist named Jacque Fresco. While some believe he has a cult following, he's simply an intellectual guy, who explains how we require switching from a monetary system to a resource-based economy as technology relieves more and more of their jobs.

    Personally, I love the idea. Technology, as we've seen, increases exponentially with time. To answer your second question would be to imply that I see the best situation as the inevitable one; which isn't the case. People are, by nature, greedy. They hoard what they don't need, that could be given to others. Through a system of giving to others, contributing voluntarily (with no monetary incentive), helping others and being a good neighbor, we can all shift the equilibrium of the planet to a more hospitable and pleasant environment. Just as most kids would never start smoking if they never saw anyone smoke, more and more, people would begin doing good around them without selfish intentions if they saw more people doing so. I know this, because I'm a product of said phenomenon.
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      Aug 31 2012: Jaques Fresco and the Venus Project are an inspiration to me as well. I don't agree with people being, by nature, greedy. I think of people possessing a nature of any propensity the environment demands. Shifting incentive is the key to money's future. Value derived with incentive from a source in the past to value derived with incentive from a source in the future.
  • Aug 27 2012: Isn't money just numbers that represent the relative value of all things? You can't get rid of the idea of relative value. I suppose you could try to use words instead of numbers to represent the relative value of things but even an idiot would soon discover how cumbersome and inaccurate that would be. No, I think you asked you question wrong. What you really wanted to ask is; "when can people like me dictate the relative value of things for everyone else?"
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    Aug 24 2012: Simple: E-commerce, M-Commerce, Near Field Communications (NFCs), and M2M services.
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    Aug 22 2012: I'm hoping we keep money, but lose the hypnotic power it has over us, in making us believe it has a sacred power - one which is really just implied. No man has power over another except that which we choose to give.
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      Aug 22 2012: money does not have hypnotic power over me. it does over you?
    • Aug 22 2012: Would it, however, be necessary to keep money if we could create an abundance of materials/resources with technology, providing the necessities of life and a high standard of living to everybody?
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        Aug 22 2012: If everyone's happy with what they got, then there's no need for money. But there's no such thing as a free lunch. How would we achieve that state, at what cost? And everyone will always want something more/new, or else we would be incredibly bored and have no reason to live.

        So if there is a way to make everyone happy, of course people would vouch for this solution, but as of right now, it's impossible. Until we figure out how to get to that Utopian state, money is the best solution we got so far, despite the greedy influences it has.
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          Aug 22 2012: >or else we would be incredibly bored and have no reason to live.

          Look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. What are at the bottom? Physiological and safety needs. My money satisfy these needs. While they satisfied I don’t need money. Do you think I have no reason to live? I can create, develop(self-actualisation by Maslow), love and being loved(love, belonging by Maslow). Scarcity only creates these basic needs(physiological and safety). The real life begins when human satisfies his higher needs. So the really happy people today are those whose job satisfies both their higher and basic needs. And there are always bored people. In scarcity and post-scarcity. Who have only their basic needs.

          >Until we figure out how to get to that Utopian state, money is the best solution we got so far

          I agree. Post-scarcity has very high technological requirements. Firstly we must reach this technological level. I love money. In this society they help me satisfy my higher needs.
        • Aug 22 2012: James, I invite you to read about a resource based economy at http://www.thevenusproject.com/en/the-venus-project/resource-based-economy. Let's have this discussion after that if you still feel this way.
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        Aug 22 2012: @Mats, ok, lemme check it out first then get back to you on that
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        Aug 23 2012: Why was money invented in the first place? Wasn't it meant to be a way of circumventing the complexity of multi-trading? Like if I had ten sheep and you had two cows, but you didn't want my sheep but chickens, I then needed to find someone who would trade my sheep for chickens so I could get your cows...
        • Aug 23 2012: Yes, but this is no longer necessary. We have reached a point in our civilization where technology can provide all of us with food, clothes, shelter, clean water and a high standard of living. In other words, we have the possibility to create an abundance of resource if we intelligently manage them through technology and the scientific method.
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      Aug 23 2012: Hi Luke,
      This is a response to your comment:
      "I'm hoping we keep money, but lose the hypnotic power it has over us, in making us believe it has a sacred power - one which is really just implied. No man has power over another except that which we choose to give".

      I wholeheartedly agree...nothing has power over us unless we give it/them power, and that is our choice in each and every moment.

      I apparently misunderstood/misinterpreted your comment in that other discussion, and now it is closed. I was going to send you an e-mail, and you do not have that feature in your profile. So, I'll tell you here....I got it with your explanation.....thanks:>)
      • Aug 23 2012: An easy way to lose the hypnotic power is to separate money from survival instincts. Like universal health care has done in many societies. If we as a society provide for all primary needs, like food, shelter, security, then we loose the hypnotic power that money has, and it becomes what it was always meant to be, a tool for rational trade. Expand the welfare-system to include basic needs as the security of food, shelter and healthcare. It´s so obvious when money becomes hypnotic, it´s when you really need it... We need to elevate people above the risk of being hypnotized. Make them more "upper class" in their confidence in their economic security.
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          Aug 23 2012: I agree Johan, and that seems difficult for some people. When people are vulnerable and frightened in survival mode, they tend to cling to something that is known. Even when they don't have money sometimes, the hypnotic power is still there with the "wanting" of it. I agree that elevating people above the risks would support them/us in being less hypnotized by money. Where do we begin????

          I would say empowering and building confidence in people is good, and that of course supports a lot of other good things in one's life as well. What do you think?
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          Aug 24 2012: Did you know that here in Australia they sued to have underground tanks at each home to collect rain water. However, the GOVERNMENT of all people abolished this because they didn't think people had the right to free water! Seems to me the agenda is to make us very dependent on money for basic survival needs to perpetuate the hypnosis. But are these people doing so out of "evil" or it is that it's all the know how to be? In fact, should we even judge on intent, if the action is still appalling?
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          Aug 29 2012: Luke,
          That is very unfortunate, and I guess I'm not surprised. I believe governments often try to make people more dependant....easier to control....right? I believe the welfare/public assistance system here in the US keeps people poor and dependant, and that is not what it was designed to do. I generally do not believe that people are intentionally "evil". I just don't think they are thinking about the long term ramifications to the people they are disempowering or to the whole. We cannot "judge on intent", because we don't actually know what the intent is....do we?
      • Aug 23 2012: I can´t reply to your post so I´ll reply to the one above :)

        In our world of accelerating change, I think it´s increasingly important that we elevate people above survival mode. The job-market will probably continue to be disrupted at exponential rates, and we need to be very altruistic to help each other adapt to this brave new world. I believe everyone is beautiful in their own way, and don´t want to see my fellows loose the race against the machine. So I believe we should just empower people financially, with money, through citizens dividends or basic incomes or something like that, divide the wealth surplus, and make the transition to a better world a little smoother, and give each other time to adapt, and the economic resources and confidence to be altruistic and friends and work together to reinvent our identities and find new niches. I wholeheartedly believe in this :)
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          Aug 29 2012: I agree Johan, that one underlying factor is to elevate people above survival mode. I agree with your previous comment to expand the systems..." welfare-system to include basic needs as the security of food, shelter and healthcare"...etc. I do not agree with empowering people with too much money in the beginning of this process, for the simple reason that many people do not have money because they are poor managers of money. I think empowerment is better first....as you insightfully say..."give each other time to adapt". I wholeheartedly believe it could happen too, and I am realistic enough to know that it will not happen over night. It's good to ponder and plan however!
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        Aug 24 2012: No problem at all. The good thing about TED is that everyone here is open and honest, with the goal of finding a solution to a better society. Peace :)
        • Sep 4 2012: @Collen
          >I do not agree with empowering people with too much money in the beginning of this >process, for the simple reason that many people do not have money because they are >poor managers of money.

          I think economic anxiety is a root to "their" poor management "skills", lack of "economic" freedom has forced them/us to become less then our "full potential".

          Future generations will be better managers :)
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    Aug 22 2012: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKWPht3fU-o&feature=related
    Money (Power) Trumps Technological Abundance. We must first unlearn our concepts of "Free". Absolute freedom can not exist. It can only be exchanged. http://www.emc.maricopa.edu/faculty/farabee/biobk/biobookener1.html. Will we ever be able to define a fair exchange? If I'm a corn farmer and I want exchange a certain amount of my corn to get my roof fixed, How much corn would it take to pay the roofers. The future of money could be based on the answer to corn for roofers. So we could base it on thermodynamics. What was the energy expenditure and time required to produce the corn VS the energy expenditure to produce the materials to fix the roof including the act of fixing the roof. Therfore, I conclude: Energy is the next currency.
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      Aug 22 2012: money(power) is similar to apple(elephant). they are not in any respect similar. you can be relaxed though, because governments all over the world are working hard to eliminate freedom. so this unlearning is on the way.
    • Aug 22 2012: Interesting concept. It kinda sounds like a fusion of time banking and barter. However, I see a near future where automation of all labor is a reality. There is almost nothing today that can't be replaced by machines and especially agriculture and farming in general. If we did this, we, the humans, would be in a position to focus on the important stuff like curing cancer, eradicating illness and whatever the heck we would want to do that better our lives and humanity in general. This is what we should aspire towards.
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        Aug 22 2012: Thanks Mats. I share your aspirations towards quality of humanity. The trick is getting the technology to market before big oil and big energy buy up the raw materials.
      • Aug 22 2012: I hope your future never happens then.

        Because if that occured people couldn't do what they truly wanted with their lives
        • Aug 23 2012: How so? Freeing people from meaningless and painful jobs, that machines can do better and more efficient to make our life better, has always been the goal of technology in the first place.
      • Aug 23 2012: I know many people who want to do things like machining, welding, farming, ranching, etc. Whom if your future came to would be unable to do what they enjoy
        • Aug 23 2012: Here's the thing. They could do exactly that if they wanted to. Nobody has the right to stop anybody from doing what their passionate about. That's limiting humans and counterproductive to our well being. Organizations and people that proposes a moneyless society where automated labor is intact, are very well aware that people are passionate about many things and therefore during a transition phase or more specifically a re-educational phase, people would do whatever they want to do without the burden of selling or trading their product, but because they enjoy to do so. I hope this helps.
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          Aug 24 2012: Wants and dreams would evolve right along with technology some are great some are a disaster like texting while driving, yet still ideas, wants, needs, will evolve just as our environment evolves. I also know many people who want to farm, weld, machine, ranch. I don't see those trades / hobbies disappearing anytime soon. Nor should they.
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    Aug 21 2012: I also think money is NOT necessary 'at all costs'.
    Although it appears to still HAVE some value (even though almost only virtual), it IS NOT a Value.
    (as far as mushrooms and so forth, I think this is NOT the place for insults...)
    • Jon Ho

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      Aug 22 2012: Indeed, money is sometimes not necessary when doing transactions that requires set value. Barter system for example, is still alive and kicking! I'm extremely curious about the Schrodinger Cat techniques of observing value of money, perhaps you can elaborate more on that?

      Regarding the musroom thingy, sarcasm and insults are two faces of the same coin. One is used to convey a feeling of contempt for the incredulous ideas or situation one is subjected to, while the other is used to dehumanized and degrade the recipient. Sarcasm may be appropriate or inappropriate, though this is generally a function of one's point of view.

      Yes, I was being sarcastic, in case you can't tell from my dry sense of dark humor and puns and fancy wordplay and whatnots. Far be it for me to insult him, oh no! For I DO agree he has some points in there, but the way he presented it in the jumbled up snippets of idea and phrases that rivals, nay, exceed the most extreme of schizophrenic rantings warrants a mechanism to defuse it; the mechanism I chose in this instance was sarcasm.

      Which leads me to believe that English is probably not your native language, am I correct? Perhaps that is why you have misunderstood and misconstrued the fine subtleties in my sarcastic remarks. ;P
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      Aug 22 2012: money is not necessary at all. just like factories are not. or agriculture. our great ancestors lived without all of these. we don't need them. but we want them. we choose to have agriculture, factories and money. because they make our life much better.
      • Aug 22 2012: Money is, however, not necessary to make a good life. And looking at the how much poverty there is around the world I would argue that it doesn't even make a manageable life. The only reason we want/keep it, is because of our unawareness of technological possibilities that can easily create an abundance of materials/resources that can provide everybody with food, shelter, clothing, clean water and a high standard of living. If you will, I can gladly elaborate on our technological possibilities to prove my argument, but if you're here to win the argument or have already made up your mind, I would rather not have to waste my time on it.
      • Aug 23 2012: money is not necessary, it is just an extension of the bartering system (where they would negotiate between a certain amount of X and a certain amount of Y).
        agriculture is an absolute necessity, in fact it is the foundation for civilization
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          Aug 23 2012: in fact, exchange and division of labor is the foundation of civilization. and these are impossible without the concept of money.
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    Aug 20 2012: I've said it a few times in TED posts - do the exercise of designing a new currency and it will all become clear.

    Let's say that you live in Greece or Spain, and that you perceive that the currency of the Euro contains a dynamic that syphons the value from your country.
    So you need to disconnect from the flaw in the Euro - to do this, you abandon the Euro for a currency that does not recognise value balances external to your country.
    Let's assume that the national government is incapable of doing this because of commitments it has made.
    So a return to the pre-Euro currency is not an option - it would violate governmental treaties. So instead of top-down from government, you implement the new currency bottum up from local communities with a new label that divorces it from treaties.
    So, you get a vew local producers to agree to participate. For this you would need some food producers, some buyilding supply producers, some energy producers and a team of utility procurers. The best place to implement this is in teh local distribution providers - the retailers.
    The initial community of the new currency need not be large, but the first rule would be that they do value exchange between each other exclusively in the new currency.
    This has the affect of divorcing the community from external inflationary/deflationary affects.
    Then you promote the stability of the new currency to invite others to join.
    You set up a discriminatory exchange rule that discourages echange with other economies - such that the only way to participate is to adopt the currency exclusively.
    This new currency would have hard rules to prevent value syphoning via usury, so there would be strict laws about borowing/lending and speculation.
    The net result is that the agregate value generated by the community remains within the community. The attendent increase in life-quality would quickly promote inclusion and eventually subsume all other currencies.
    But the currency regulator becomes the absolute power.
    • Aug 22 2012: Great thought exercise!
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        Aug 23 2012: Mats,

        What we as humans have to realise (and pretty soon) is that money is an expression of farming.

        What is farming? The root principle of farming is the creation of the closed system.
        The farmer defines an area in which the flow of energy is prevented from interacting with flows outside the defined area.
        A currency is one such closed system - all who participate in teh currency are farmed by the currency issuer/regulator.

        So you can see that both currency and property arise from farming.
        We have been doing this as a species for 10,000 years or more, but at this point we have run out of "property" - we need to examine the dynamic and start looking at re-opening some of our systems.

        This is the root cause of the challenges facing humanity right now. If we don't open our eyes and admit that the closed model has crashed, we will fail to see the opportunity to adjust the model.

        So let's begin by getting eyes opened.
        • Aug 23 2012: I completely agree, Mitch. However, in order to change things we must also propose a plan for a better future. It isn't enough to merely point out the shortcomings of our current system, we must provide an alternative. Your thought exercise is important and is an excellent way of making people think critically and start realizing that we must change the system if we want to survive, but we must also emphasize on solutions.
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        Aug 24 2012: Not so much a plan as a system.

        De Bono would say that critical thinking only takes you part of the way becasue it is retrospective in nature.
        In that vein he observes that sequential ordering of components as they present results in a structure that cannot be sustained - a component will arrive that violates the plan. In the ideal circumstance, a new plan is made and the whole structure is dismantled and re-built according to the new plan.
        Of course, the resources required to do that are prohibitive, so it continues to build in an unballanced way till the entire structure collapses.
        This would suggest an endless cycle of build and collapse.
        But there's another way.
        Think of it as a computational challenge.

        Rather than man-handle each new circumstance into a structure according to a plan, put together a dynamic system that can adapt itself to unexpected components as they arise. A thing that determines its own plan as it evolves.
        With the paradigm of farming, we had just such an adaptive system, however, it was insufficient when presented with the expiry of available "property" in which to expand - thus we now see the internet being twisted to create some desparate new "property" to expand into. It can't work of course, because you can't eat binary data.
        The flaw is growth.
        So we need a computational paradigm that is not dependent on growth.
        We should begin by dismantiling the farming paradigm to determine its functional parts then re-assemble them to remove the growth requirement.
        Unlike the "critical thinking " method, we are not dismantling the entire existing structure, we are simply re-configuring a system - small functional tweaks that do not require a massive amount of resources.
        Once the new dynamic structure is assembled - you just let it loose and if it works it will consume the old model.
        OK - let's get started. What are the functional parts of the farming paradigm?
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    Aug 19 2012: "Automation replacing humans, which creates the ultimate paradox in terms of purchasing power, seems to be one of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism and may be the demise of the monetary based economy itself."

    what the heck this sentence means? in what sense automation creates paradox? how would that a contradiction and between what? and how would that affect the monetary system? how would the monetary system's collapse or reform alleviate a problem that is fundamental to capitalism or automation? what does that mean for an economy to be "monetary based"?

    "alternative economies such as Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency where goods and services are purchased without the exchange of any physical currency"

    how would bitcoin be an alternative economy? how bitcoin changes available resources, production, capital stock, transportation methods, consumer habits or any other aspect of the economy? why do we need bitcoin to get rid of physical currency? isn't a bank account or credit card just as information technology as bitcoin is?
    • Aug 19 2012: Paradox in the sense that while automation frees us from monotonous, repetitive and even dangerous jobs (making our lives better) it also decrease the purchasing power of the working class (jobs being replaced by machines). You see, not everybody can instantly do the jump or the transition from industry work to more creative fields when automation takes over their previous job. It takes time and education. And this would deeply affect the monetary system by that reason alone - that there is no purchasing power left within the working class during that transition. Because the money system or what I like to call the monetary based economy has to constantly circulate in order to sustain itself. There will come a time called the Gaussian curve where employment is stagnating, production is peaking and purchasing power is rock bottom. The system stops. On a side note - capitalism was created under the assumption of scarce resources and didn't take into account the possibility of automation of labor and technological abundance which is why we are in the mess we are in right now. It is an inherent flaw in the monetary based economy. Sure, it worked fine a hundred years ago, but not today.

      I agree that Bitcoin isn't any valid replacement for the money system, in fact it's the same thing only digital. I am aware of this, but I kept it in there since there seems to be a consensus that a "new" way of distributing currencies is what is needed to fix the economy and a degree of attention has been given to namely Bitcoin and other digital currencies. This is the only reason I kept it in there.
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        Aug 19 2012: how on earth would automation decrease the purchasing power of the working class? ever heard of the industrial revolution? you know, the thing that made available for the masses to have lighting, medicine, clothing, heating and all that stuff. later cars, cellphones, flat tvs.

        i don't about this part, it is to be taken literally, or it is some metaphoric imagery?

        "money system has to constantly circulate in order to sustain itself."

        does it have a meaning? how could a system circulate? what would the implications of that be? money circulates, so? of course it does, it is the medium of exchange. its essence that it is just goes around. so what?

        "There will come a time called the Gaussian curve where employment is stagnating"

        curves are not times. what gaussian? do you actually know what a gaussian curve is? why would employment stagnate because of a curve? why would employment ever increase? why would it be lower than we want? unless of course some external force prevents people from finding a job. but in a free market, what would prevent people from working?

        "capitalism ... didn't take into account the possibility of automation"

        wow. capitalism is the result of automation. that might cause someone to question the validity of your claims.

        and the final question: what money has got to do with all this? without money, there would be no automation? there would be no problem of distributing resources and goods? you are fighting with demons that don't exist. i strongly recommend you to follow up on how money works and how capitalism works. because your knowledge is lacking. badly. and i would not recommend 99% or venus project or any other such crap. i mean real knowledge and real science.

        you can start with murray rothbard's the mystery of banking. also matt ridley's TED talk here:
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          Aug 20 2012: I think he means radically new level of automation. The industrial revolution didn’t cause the high unemployment because old professions were replaced by new one. It created new professions: scientists, engineers, mechanics, electricians and so on. And even reduced the unemployment. But the world has changed greatly since that times and there is a possibility of the total automation in the future. When the machines will produce, maintain, evolve and repair themselves. As well as produce products and services. I’ve talked too about such level of technologies. So conceptually there is no need in almost all current human professions in this model. And maybe such times will not come suddenly so there will be some transition period which will cause unemployment. When traditional economy is not gone completely and post-scarcity is not came yet.
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          Aug 21 2012: Damn Krisztián you are going to wear out that Ridley video.


          How many jobs were there at the industrial revolution? How many are there now? Nope the job demand increases because of technology and off-shoring. The problem is that us mericans is too stupid and lazy to get the jobs.
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    Aug 19 2012: I think there is no monetary system at all in the future. Probably our next economical model is post-scarcity. I have wrote some thoughts on it in my idea http://www.ted.com/conversations/13343/designing_the_model_of_future.html
    More can be found in my blog post http://techains.blogspot.com/2012/08/manufacturing-paradigm-shifts.html
    I tried to argue post-scarcity by the example of manufacture technological evolution and how it will affect the economy. But I am going to write more thoughts about post-scarcity because the subject is both interesting and complicated.
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      Aug 19 2012: post scarcity would mean we are out of ideas how to cooperate. i don't think that human beings will ever run out of new ideas how to make their lives even better, more interesting, fun or meaningful. and we will always seek ways to help out each other through the division of labor. post scarcity would mean the lack of such effort, and a perfect satisfaction with the world as is. i don't want to live in that world, even if it is possible.
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        Aug 19 2012: To be clear I meant post-scarcity in this sense:
        “Post-scarcity (also styled postscarcity) is a hypothetical form of economy or society in which goods, services and information are free, or practically free. This would require an abundance of fundamental resources (matter, energy and intelligence), in conjunction with sophisticated automated systems capable of converting raw materials into finished goods.”

        I’ve described how I see the concept of such society due to technological progress from 3D printing to more sophisticated manufacturing industry with renewable materials, recycling manufacturing and zero designing costs(open source phenomenon). It is of course roughly estimation in my blog post, but if we talk about this as concept so hypothetically such level of progress is possible and doesn’t conflict with what you’ve described. Or you talk about some social side effect e.g. lack of motivation for people to evolve personally and to evolve as the whole society?
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          Aug 19 2012: and i was exactly reacting to this. you are thinking of today's goods. if today's goods are produced by machines, humans will produce other goods. like entertainment in the broad sense.
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          Aug 20 2012: There's no such thing as a free lunch.

          There will always be a cost to go with the benefit. If we don't use some monetary system and everything is "free", it still isn't really free. There's still some amount of work/service to society that you need to perform in order to gain the benefits and basic necessities to live.

          In other words I think that post-scarcity can only work if EVERYONE is responsible for their role in society and contribute equally in quantity but unequal in quality.
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        Aug 19 2012: >if today's goods are produced by machines, humans will produce other goods.

        in the model I described people will continue to produce whatever they want including today’s goods. But it will be only design part(like digital model or schematics for 3D printer) of manufacturing process. No heavy work. So the cost of individual’s labor will be the cost of his or her creativity and intelligence. The labor will become only creative. People will be free of the need to satisfy their basic needs like food and water and will be free in their labor to satisfy their higher needs like creativity and self-affirmation. How will they use their free time and ability to be more creative? I suppose it depends on particular individual and our future lifestyle. People will just have more options for the way they live.
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          Aug 19 2012: and why would that be post-scarce? it just means that basic goods are non-scarce (more precisely almost non-scarce to a degree that they can be considered non-scarce). but all the other goods are still scarce, and it will always be the case if people can find themselves new activities to offer to each other.
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        Aug 19 2012: > and why would that be post-scarce?

        what do you mean by “basic goods”? I didn’t divide goods into non-scarce and scarce(basic and “others”). I did divide only the technology of manufacturing. It is hypothetical view with many “but” so let’s assume some constants.
        1. The materials will be free(unlimited)
        2. The raw and heavy manufacturing will be free(machines)
        So people will be involved only in designing creative part of manufacturing of any goods which requires only their will to be involved in. They always can use products and services completely provided by machines(or other people who has chosen to create) and they have a choice to provide products and services by themselves for their personal needs or for other people and for free. For free because there is no scarce products and their basic needs are satisfied. Sure someone can ask 50 bucks for a jewelry he made(designed) but why if he can get everything w/o 50 bucks?

        If it’s possible technologically I see no purpose in money as a motivation factor to create activities for each other. I agree, perhaps today people need money as a some sort of “rating” factor and some objective estimation of their creativity and labor. But I think it’s just a stereotype since we live with money for almost whole our history.
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          Aug 19 2012: what do *i* mean by basic goods? it is your term, not mine. why would i define a term that you brought into the discussion?

          i think everything can be said is said already. i could only repeat myself.
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        Aug 19 2012: English is not my native language but I've used the term "basic NEEDS". I have negligently used only "food and water" as examples meaning the basic needs of every human according to the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I haven’t meant goods in manufacture. To be more specific I’ve meant that basic needs like physiological and safety needs would be satisfied w/o need to earn money for food. So people can focus on their higher needs such as self-actualisation, esteem and love/belonging.
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        Sep 1 2012: WWI and II was the result of people running out of ideas as are all wars which cause a redistribution of the wealth.
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    Aug 19 2012: Isn't the difference between Bitcoin and Currency the same as the difference between email and postge? They differ only in ease of use. The result of their use is the same. Money and Power will always be the dynamic duo in the exchange of goods and services. The future of money is secured by greed, materialism, and convenience.
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      Aug 19 2012: not even that. most dollar transfers already happen in computers.
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        Aug 20 2012: Indeed, I've been using PayPal and Amazon for quite a few things.
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      Sep 1 2012: When I helped with the Katrina refugees, one of the real problems most people faced was that their accounts no longer existed because the data associated with them was destroyed or displaced.

      I saw many a family in a 150,000.00 Bounder RV, stopped alongt the roadside because they couln't buy gas. There were begging for a handout from local communities.

      Panama City, Florida was hit by a couple of tornadoes and the power went down. Food in grocery stores rotted because the stores only accepted cash. Convenience stores shut down but stayed open because the registrars couldn't accept a transaction because it was electrically powered.

      This condition lasted for a few days, longer in some areas.

      Cash was king, data was unaccepted without proof it existed and there was no way to process a data type of transaction.

      Coin(hard currency) will always exist for this very reason.
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    Gail . 50+

    • +1
    Aug 19 2012: a 4:41 video about the origins of our global economic model:
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      Aug 20 2012: Thanks for this link Gail - McMurtry is very perceptive - and articulate.
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      Aug 31 2012: Sorry ted lover, this video is simply inaccurate. "The Invisible Hand" Smith described, is often used this way, falsely. The Invisible Hand, is a very specific entity, human desire, it had nothing to do with god. When someone makes a better mousetrap, it is not god that makes you buy it, but your own interest in killing mice... poor mice, they always get beat up in economics.
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        Aug 31 2012: I don't think Smith was talking about God "per se", but about money becoming god-like. You can call your passions your god. (Where your love is, there is your god.) But the economic model he proposes calls for the existence of poverty, and the measure of a man's wealth is the amount of labor that he can purchase. And when you have men competing for jobs, profits will be highest.

        Smith said that the economic model is bad for child mortality rates. Child mortality "will every where be found chiefly among the children of the common people, who cannot afford to tend them with the same care as those of better station." If the common people of 1776 had been literate and educated, would they have passed this off so easily as a necessity?

        Smith did predict the dangers of the tradesmen (middle class) who could form a strong political block that could interfere with the government that was supposed to be an exclusive domain of the wealthy. He couldn't think of a way to prevent them from meeting to do this, because even if government made such meetings illegal, they would still meet in private, so such meetings needed to be discouraged. Though many tradesmen could afford to hold local office, and some state office, after the articles of confederation were ratified, they could not afford to hold federal office. And the common man - the poor - could not vote at all.

        Where the need for crippling poverty is built into the global economic model, and where disparity of wealth is known to be the cause of our social/political ills, isn't it time to consider alternatives?
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        Aug 31 2012: not everyone understands metaphors. even among professors.
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    Aug 19 2012: Technologically, we may see something like Bitcoin and Google Wallet. Transactions with a swipe of a phone and digital transactions can be made online. Internet Shopping and Social Media Shopping, like www.shop.com.

    Macroeconomically, I think we'll see something like a Eurozone on a global scale.
    • Aug 19 2012: Thanks for your insight! It very much seems so, that we are moving towards a digital currency. Banks and Wall Street are already using it and we hear countries like Sweden and Norway to be one of the first countries without physical money in circulation. Where every transaction will be done through credit cards.
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        Aug 19 2012: Indeed! But the only huge issue is security. I mean how easy is it for someone to create their own digital currency in a system (similar to people trying to print their own money)? Or how easy is it for someone to steal identities or hack into someone's bank accounts?

        With great convenience comes greater risks and consequences and this seems to be the case for just about any new revolutionary technology.
        • Aug 19 2012: You make valid points and the things you address is exactly why I am so interested in having a conversation and sharing ideas of alternative economies that have built in security in them, so that we don't need to patch it up all the time.
  • Sep 17 2012: I think we humans need to get smarter :)
    We must understand that there's enough technology to make heaven on earth, but that there's not enough earth for everyone to waste gigantic energy on useless things. So we must become aware and enjoy life with respect to the limits of nature.
    Once at that level, we'll kick Hummer-drivers in re-education programmes (jails won't exist anymore) (I know Hummers went the way of the dino's, but I'm sure you get the idea) and honor those who do most good for society (helping old people to cross the street). This honoring can be with some form of cash. Maybe people giving something to those do-gooders. Like gifts or donations to smart ideas on Kickstarter or Indiegogo as very first seeds of this new way.
    This makes me wonder how Ghandi made his living. Donations I guess.

    So there's always a need for money. We don't really need to value things (at a certain common awareness) but do need to value actions somehow. But money doesn't need to be specifically in cows or coins or paper or 'likes'. And it also doesn't need to be a representation of products created/sold. It can be based on what people feel someone is deserving or even needing. So those out of luck don't have to worry about food or shelter.
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    Sep 17 2012: Money should be like electricity. It should flow to where it is needed.
    • Sep 17 2012: Right, if all people are smart enough to take only their share...
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    Sep 17 2012: maybe in the future we all use credit cards instead of the real money
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      Sep 17 2012: don't we already do that now? lol
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        Sep 18 2012: apart.you know .not everything is paid by credit card at this moment.what i mean is we all use credit cards in all aspects.if so i think money will live out ..lol
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          Sep 18 2012: Using credit cards or the Google Wallet cards would be ideal, it would save a ton of time in transactions and whatnot, but it's also less secure.
  • Sep 14 2012: "Is There a Future for Money?"

    No, at least not any future I would want to live in, so not money as we know it at least, but some kind of accounting currency may prove necessary (even in Star Trek some things are rationed because there just isn't enough energy around for everyone to indulge in everything).
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      Sep 14 2012: "but some kind of accounting currency may prove necessary"

      and how is that not money? what is money in your book?
      • Sep 14 2012: Money is transferable: when I buy a plate of food in a restaurant the restaurant owner gets my money and can choose to invest it or gamble it away on the stock market, etc... Another form of currency would see a deduction of the figure from my "account" when I order a plate of food at the restaurant, the restaurant owner doesn't get anything from me (the figure on his account may be increased by some authority periodically for example) and the only purpose of the deduction from my account was to let some authority know that a certain amount of resources has been used and to limit the amount of resources I can use in a year.

        @Jon Ho
        Non-transferable money allows for private property and different levels of compensation, so it doesn't imply communism.
        • Jon Ho

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          Sep 17 2012: Hmmm, it sounds a lot like communism....
        • Sep 17 2012: @Jon, Communism is "no private property", not "no private money as a legal tender".
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    Sep 13 2012: Yes...my wallet.
  • Sep 13 2012: an economy not based on $$$, ala Star Trek, is the 'End Game' of capitalism. when we all have, more or less, the same standard of living, we can focus on pursuit of knowledge, pursuit of our passions, and service to others. Produce to Consume, Consume to Produce can still survive - they're powerful motivators, just not ends unto themselves. In other words, we'll approach this 'State' in the limit...
    • Sep 13 2012: "In other words, we'll approach this 'State' in the limit..."

      What do you mean?
      • Sep 14 2012: the non monetary state. we may all never get there, but we can all get closer...