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Mats Kaarbø

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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?

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  • 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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