TED Conversations


This conversation is closed.

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?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Sep 10 2012: For what it's worth....

    A world without money means that the resources the world has must be managed and delegated by a governing body who will do this fairly.. but you skirt dangerously close to Communism when you discuss a governing body for delegation of resources. It's especially touchy when you're talking about who gets what lifestyle, how people are provided for, what is fair? A new governing system would have to be created, and treat the world fairly, and as one people.

    I think the positive effects of a society with no money would be unfathomable - imagine the effects on modern day slavery, homelessness, unemployment, possession/money related criminal acts, etc.

    The negative effects are unimaginable too. It would not eliminate greed, just change its face. Whatever becomes a valuable skill or resource would entice the greedy to use whatever they can to get it. The new resource wouldn't be as easy to handle as money but that is only a hindrance.Think of prisons with cigarettes for bartering. People with more carpentry skills would be given gifts to do some work for others - multiply that by 10, 50, 100 years and you'll see people becoming wealthy in a different way.

    Suketu Shah mentioned getting a natural born good leader with followers to start the ball rolling. I think that's necessary because people feel empowered as a group. Suketu, even great leaders started out with 1 person who believed in them - anyone can be that leader. Furthermore, those leaders do exist today.. Imagine if Oprah Winfrey had one press release saying 'lets talk about how to distribute the world's resources fairly.' Millions would participate, and she's not the only one with that influence.

    Simon Sinek's talk (link below) skirts around the idea of making change. People will come because they feel the idea is their idea too, not because they were convinced they should do it by a smooth talker.

    • Sep 10 2012: "A world without money means that the resources the world has must be managed and delegated by a governing body"

      This 'government' of allocating resources doesn't need to be managed by humans. We could easily automate this process with a cybernetic government that merely serves the needs of people and DOES NOT control the actions of the people, what they need and when they need it. Let me repeat that, a cybernetic government that SERVES the peoples needs and DOES NOT control the actions of the people. A cybernetic government would, in fact trillion times faster than humans, keep track of available resources and show us (humans) continuously how to live sustainable within the boundaries of natural resources available on Earth. Keep in mind, a machine doesn't have feelings, ambition or any creative thought that hasn't been programmed by humans in the first place. Therefore, humans would always be in control. Every human would be a government body in their own. Where they choose what they want to do and when and how to pursue it. But... In order to live sustainable with this kinda of access to materials and resources, we (humans) need a drastic value change that perpetuate sharing of resources, collaboration and how to get along with each other instead of narrow self-interest, competition and isolating yourself with the world. This train of thought in symbiosis with an access based economy, where every need is met, would naturally change the way we think and therefore phase out destructive human behaviors such as greed, hunger for power and every other non-nonsensical behaviors perpetuated by the current socioeconomic system.
      • Sep 10 2012: Thanks for replying Mats,

        Personally, I am pro-computer and your recommendation makes sense.

        Recommending a cybernetic 'government' sounds insane but... Envision your idyllic Democracy ... ooo nice. Now envision what it really is. Oh. :(.

        Imagine your idyllic cybernetic government. ooo nice. Could the real one be worse than Democracy turned out to be?

        I personally think a cybernetic government freeing people from working for the necessities of life is awesome. I want that so bad. People not working to survive could work in their own best interest to keep the system as fair as possible. People could chase their own desires, ultimately be happier.

        Or on the flip side..

        'Wealth' would take a new form, causing some to want to corrupt the governmental system undetectably, result in 'bullies' who go after your allocation of daily resources, who knows. The imagination of need and greed knows no boundaries.

        My only other thought is 'What would happen if it became ultimately evident that humanity needed population control.' I think we do now, but everyone wants proof. This kind of system would provide incontrovertible proof.

        So what if it's a FACT that there isn't enough for everyone. We invent a new grain? Some reports say the last grain wasn't such a wonderful solution.

        Would society change its reproductive habits if a computer told them we don't have enough resources to feed more? We SHOULD curb our population down to a reasonable level now, but will we? I've though at times that we have a bill of human rights, shouldn't we have bills of rights for other species too? Access to necessities of life, etc. It would be possible, if humanity depopulated by a fair percentage.

        First thing first. Employ the cybernetic government, having created a plan for the foreseeable issues and hurdle the rest of the problems when they rear their ugly heads.

        Viva computers and our faith in them!
        • Sep 11 2012: "'Wealth' would take a new form, causing some to want to corrupt the governmental system undetectably, result in 'bullies' who go after your allocation of daily resources, who knows."

          This is why relevant education is so important and emphasized. I feel that we can educate people out of certain types of negative behaviors if the environment meets their needs. If we teach people about dynamic equilibrium, how to live sustainable within the boarders of natural resources and how to relate to one another, we would not see any type of aberrant behavior such as somebody trying to corrupt the system. In fact, if people got everything they needed, there would be no incentive to take control on that which provides them with the necessities of life.

          "'What would happen if it became ultimately evident that humanity needed population control.'"

          This is also an educational issue. If people are educated or given a system to provide them with that statistics (cybernetic system) on how much the Earth can produce, in terms of natural resources, to meet the needs of the population and to make a high standard of living for all (if that is desired), I feel that people would refrain to have children, because it would ultimately decrease their standard of living. Population control is not needed to an education population.
        • Sep 11 2012: "So what if it's a FACT that there isn't enough for everyone. We invent a new grain?"

          A World Hunger Education Service report (http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm) "revealed" that "the world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day according to the most recent estimate that we could find. The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food."

          If there, however, was a natural catastrophe that damaged the larger part of our agriculture/food supply, we would obviously grow food in labs as an temporary solution, till we would get our natural resources up and running again. In fact, we already have the technology to do this. We would combine nanotechnology and biotechnology to take known particles and rearrange them to whatever shape or form we would like and create healthy and nutritious food in a clinical lab with no distortion whatsoever. Think of the endless possibilities we would have food wise in regards to flavors and tastes.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.