I found this interview on Tech Crunch about the emergence of an economy of sharing to be fascinating. Basically the interviewee discusses that the idea of personal ownership is starting to change. She said that the world’s finite resources are beginning to constrain our ability to consume and instead of people turning to personal ownership, people will turn to shared ownership. Her most concrete example is the emergence of car sharing services such as Zip Car.
So far in our lifetime technology has changed our lives, but it actually hasn’t changed the systems that we operate within, such as government, business, etc.. I think the basic paradigms are the same.
However, I think technology is moving to a point where it will completely change the institutions in which human beings operate within.
For example have you heard of the 3D printers that continue to go down in cost that actually print out products for you, such as a cup, a comb, and even hospitals are using them now to replace human bones. What happens when this technology can be purchased for $300 and will sit on your desk. No need for a lot of factories anymore. Where will those people go to work?
Siri right now is in its very basic stage. But I suspect in 10 to 20 years this technology will also be perfected. I don’t think computers will be able to make decisions like humans for another 100 to 200 years, but a lot of basic information that humans process now, will be done by computers in 10 or 20 years. Even jobs that require an education such as accounting will probably be done by computers soon. What will these people do?
I also wonder if the concept of the nation state can survive (which I actually think is probably a good thing if this concept dies). If humans can get around the entire world within an hour, with the proliferation of English, with the greater demand for transparency in government because of social media, will nation state governments even be relevant?
I guess the main question is if robots and computers can do most of the work human beings can do, then how would the world’s economies and governments change? Capitalism works because people have jobs, earn money, and can pay for goods and services. Can machines replace 75% of human beings, and if so, then how would capitalism function if every year less and less people earned a salary, when the goal of capitalism is to increase sales year over year? Will we create an entirely new system where human beings live life in leisure and are serviced by machines, or will it be a dark world that separates the employed from the unemployed. One thing is for sure, probably the safest business to be in in the next 100 years is one in which you own tangible resources such as land, gold, water, copper, etc…