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mark211Story Brainstorm: The Future of Money?2016-04-24 04:32:28
mark211In last week's discussion on the possibilities of a one-world government, Quantum Muse editor Gordon Rowlinson said: "the world is becoming more interconnected with trade and global corporations. With increased global interdependence, it is probable some kind of political organization will follow". So moving on from politics, I thought we could move onto "the dismal science" of economics and – if you're willing to join in – brainstorm some ideas for stories – just a few lines to capture the basic plot, just an exercise. If not of course, please feel to let us know your ideas about how you think the economies of the future might turn out. To get the ball rolling, I'm going to throw a couple of ideas about money and economics your way and then see what everyone thinks. So here they are:2016-04-24 04:32:37
mark211ONE: THE PROBLEM OF THE SCARCITY OF KNOWLEDGE: From Thomas Sowell's 'Basic Economics' pp 112-113: "Under capitalism and socialism, the scarcity of knowledge is the same, but the way these different economies deal with it can be quite different. The problem is not simply with the over-all scarcity of knowledge, but also with the fact that this knowledge is often fragmented into bits and pieces, the totality of which is not known to anybody in any economic system […] No single person at any given location – whether at a filling station or in corporate headquarters – can possibly have all this information for the whole country at his fingertips, much less keep updating it for thousands of filling stations from coast to coast as the seasons and the neighbourhoods change […] The amount of such highly localized information, known to thousands of individual filling station owners scattered across the United States, is too enormous to be transmitted to some central point and then be digested in time to lead to government allocations of fuel with the same efficiency as a price-coordinated market can achieve." QUESTION: Is what Sowell says here still true in an era of big data? I'm going to say almost no – the problem of the scarcity of knowledge he describes here is surely being resolved as computers become ever more powerful and ever more adept at crunching vast quantities of input. In other words, will computing and the Internet make a successful planned economy a reality for the future? What might it be like to live in such an economy?2016-04-24 04:32:47
mark211TWO: THE WEIRDNESS OF MONEY: From John Lanchester's ' When Bitcoin Grows Up' in LRB Vol. 38 No. 8 · 21 April 2016 pp 3-12: "In Micronesia, about 1800 miles north of the eastern corner of Australia, there’s a group of islands called Yap. [ … ] Yap has no metal. There’s nothing to make into coins. What the Yapese do instead is sail 250 miles to an island called Palau, where there’s a particular kind of limestone not available on their home island. They quarry the limestone, and then shape it into circular wheel-like forms with a hole in the middle, called fei. Some of these fei stones are absolutely huge, fully 12 feet across. Then they sail the fei back to Yap, where they’re used as money. The great advantage of the fei being made from this particular stone is that they’re impossible to counterfeit, because there’s none of the limestone on Yap [ … ] In addition, the big ones have the advantage that they’re impossible to steal. By the same token, though, they’re impossible to move, so what happens is that if you want to spend some of the money, you just agree that somebody else now owns the coin. A coin sitting outside somebody’s house can be transferred backwards and forwards as part of a series of transactions, and all that actually happens is that people change their minds about who now owns it. Everyone agrees that the money has been transferred. The real money isn’t the fei, but the idea of who owns the fei. The register of ownership, held in the community memory, is the money. [ … ]We think of money as being the stuff in our wallets and purses; but most money isn’t that. It’s not notes and coins [ … ] More than 90 per cent of money isn’t money in a physical sense. [ … ] What it is instead is entries on a ledger. It’s numbers on your bank balance, the electronic records of debits and credits that are created every time we spend money. [ … ] This is what almost all of what we call money mainly is: numbers moving on registers. It’s the same system they have on Yap." QUESTION: What will money look like in the future? Do we even need money at all? And if we don't need money, do we need banks? What would a world without banks look like? How might banks of the future try to keep hold of the status, power and wealth they've held since at least the Middle Ages and the Medici? (Think the Iron Bank of Braavos in 'Game of Thrones' for instance – how would they cope with electronic money?)2016-04-24 04:33:00
mark211What do you think about the future of the economy and of money? What will it look like? What ideas for stories can be brainstormed around the idea of the economy of the future – or for that matter the economy of a Fantasy universe? Be sure to let us know below.2016-04-24 04:33:18
micheledutcherIan Musk has taken the bull by the horns in creating PayPal - which uses virtual money exclusively. In fact, in some of the poorest parts of Africa virtual money is being used exclusively at little shops and in exchange for services, because virtual money is difficult to steal and is international currencies. Until the day comes when we can just walk up to a computer and order anything we want - computer, hovercar, Detroit produced, two door - some form of monetary exchange is necessary. 2016-04-26 06:31:28
GordonRowlinsonThere tends to be speculation that in the future, money will not be used. In the movie Star Trek the voyage home, the Star Trek gang goes back in time to the 1980s and Captain Kirk makes the observation, "They're still using money." I cannot see a society in the future that is so utopian that money is not used. Something that may happen is countries sharing currency similar to the Euro. Am I right? I don't know.2016-04-26 08:18:31
IronspiderApologies that I can't remember the story in which it appeared, but I can remember a setting where all people worked for credits, which went to pay for the items they required. What made it memorable was that only those jobs that actually benefited the society accrued these credits - such as doctors, carpenters, bakers, mechanics, etc, all of whom were represented by guilds (or the equivalent). I think the society was administered by a council of people appointed from each guild, so that issues of supply and demand were considered, as well as developments of new technologies. If I remember correctly, the basic assumption was that everyone worked for the benefit of their society and no one lived off the efforts of other people. Because of this, there was no real need for physical money. It's a very socialist concept, the embodiment of Louis Blanc's "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"; which falls apart the moment anyone considers that they deserve more than anyone else (such as politicians in the UK)! I doubt the future will do away with money, though I can see it shifting to purely electronic form - except for 'valuables' such as gold, diamonds and the like. But then, with the slow diminishing of certain resources and the exploitation of others, such as water, I can picture a future when what is considered 'valuable' undergoes a quantum shift. Perhaps 'water credits' could end up as currency.2016-04-27 00:19:32
WessonI have a story about a boy who lives in a society without money. It's a near stone age world that hasn't discovered basic things like electricity, plumbing or glass because without compensation no one is motivated to discover these things. That's the biggest flaw in the Star Trek formula, quality material isn't going to magically spring from the kindness in people's hearts. I certainly see a world where physical money has been replaced by electronic money but the moment we get rid of currency altogether and adopt this 'each according to his needs' stuff, civilization as we know it will grind to a halt. 2016-04-27 08:17:34
RTThat's a difficult one to contemplate. It goes to the core of self worth in any materialistic society. Unless we're all bees or ants or the evolutionary beings from the birth of a Technical Singularity ( see Murray Shanahan), I can't even begin to fathom that "utopian" idea.

How does government, governing, social order plug in?

All in all, the concept of money/value is a mental construct accepted by any one social group. I'm not really sure your question can work. RT

2016-04-27 09:00:38

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