Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for August 3, 2015

Economic Possibilities Among the Vulcans


Over at Equitable Growth:

Noah Smith: Star Trek Economics: Life After the Dismal Science: "I grew up watching 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' (easily the best of the Star Trek shows)...

...There’s one big, obvious thing missing from the future society depicted in the program. No one is doing business. There is almost no one buying and selling, except for a few species for whom commerce is a form of traditional religion. Food and luxuries are free, provided by ‘replicators’.... Scarcity... seems to have been eliminated. Is this really the future? Is it possible? Is it something we want?... Current world annual gross domestic product per capita, in purchasing power parity terms, is only about $13,000--enough to put food on the table and a roof over one’s head. What happens when it is $100,000, or $200,000? It would seem ridiculous to limit this incredible plenty to a few people. When the world gets rich enough, a trivial tax on the rich would be enough to provide everyone on Earth with a basic income that would allow them to lead lives of leisure.... READ MOAR:

This is the basic Star Trek future. But actually, I think that the future has a far more radical transformation in store for us. I predict that technological advances will actually end economics as we know it, and destroy scarcity, by changing the nature of human desire.... All the economic questions will change. Instead of a world defined by scarcity, we will live in a world defined by self-expression. We will be able to decide the kind of people that we want to be, and the kind of lives we want to live, instead of having the world decide for us. The Star Trek utopia will free us from the fetters of the dismal science.

  • On Twitter:

  • @Noahpinion: A sufficiently advanced level of technology will mean the end of economics as we know it:

  • @delong: .@Noahpinion In the Agrarian Age, 75% of the work was getting and preparing 2000 calories a day plus essential nutrients. Now that is down to 3%. As far as the production of basic edible calories and nutrients are concerned, we are already 19/20 of the way to the replicator. Yet I see no sign of any end of the economy, not even the food economy--in fact we spent $85 on dinner for 2 at the Juhu Beach Club Plus we are getting close to the manufacturing replicator as well...
  • @mathowie: Soylent is Gruel 2.0 and everyone should live a life of righteous efficient austerity #ick #gross #nothanks
  • @hondanhon: @mathowie yeah that's totally why in Utopian Star Trek Picard is like "Computer, Soylent 10, Hot"
  • * @t0nyyates:* @delong @Noahpinion that's optimistic given we are not sure our improvements are sustainable.
  • @Apinak: @t0nyyates Exactly, global population has doubled last 40 yrs & exceeding ecological boundaries, not a straight line @delong @Noahpinion
  • @kltblom: @delong @Noahpinion As I wrote last week "We have produced enough calories for all of us for a long time" -
  • @DaLeftHook: @Noahpinion @delong .@maxkeiser and .@stacyherbert were just talking about this the other day on the @KeiserReport
  • @DaveAshelman: @delong @pardoguerra @Noahpinion Yet goods & svcs are still produced based on hedonism. We as a species/society have not moved beyond that.
  • @AdamPosen: Read all four parts. On automation. I agree with @delong
  • @Noahpinion: delong Have you considered the possibility that the tech productivity puzzle is actually the very beginning of Trekonomics?
  • @TimDuy: @Noahpinion @delong Seems like the the replicator did not diminish the Ferengi desire to accumulate latinum.
  • @Noahpinion: @TimDuy @delong The Ferengi engage in commerce for religious reasons!
  • * @YorkshireMao:* @TimDuy @Noahpinion @delong greed was also their religion - they needed Latinum to bribe their way into the afterlife.
  • @trekonomics: @TimDuy @delong @Noahpinion But the Ferengis are not Federation, and they do change over time from John Galt to @NYTimeskrugman keynesians
  • @ticketdust: @trekonomics @delong @TimDuy @Noahpinion @NYTimeskrugman This happens due to contact with HOOMAN FEMALES, so there's hope for Gamr G8 yet.
    • @trekonomics: @ticketdust @delong @TimDuy @Noahpinion @NYTimeskrugman the puppies will never like Star Trek.
  • @pardoguerra: @delong @Noahpinion Mixing apples and pears? Is 2000 calories of gruel or 2000 cals w/ entertainment + signalling?
  • delong: .@pardoguerra @Noahpinion I think my point is that our economy has long since moved past the horizon of the kingdom of necessity--in which we produce the necessities and conveniences of life--to the kingdom of freedom--in which we produce luxury of various kinds to suit our manifold purposes--entertainment, signaling, curiosity, aims we have decided are good to pursue for reasons that we think good and sufficient. Yet this transit from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom has not produced the kind of structural change in our economy--and in its very existence--that John Maynard Keynes or Karl Marx expected. We have some "from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" in the mix--and some Wikipedia-like free associations of associated associated producers, but not an overwhelming amount of that...
  • @pardoguerra: @delong @Noahpinion agreed. And as long as there are tastes, status, and competition, there will be (at the very least, food) markets.
  • * @czwalsh:* @delong @pardoguerra @Noahpinion Keynes thought we'd be working 3 hrs a day by now, and only by choice.
  • @trekonomics: @delong @pardoguerra @Noahpinion but luxury still *very unevenly distributed in @GreatDismal words
  • @trekonomics: @pardoguerra @delong @Noahpinion post-scarcity in ST is not absence of markets. In fact I'd argue reputation is ST's main currency.
  • @jmfinn: @delong @Noahpinion We're trying to apply 20th century models of economics and governance to something that is far beyond that.