Supply and demand is the driving force behind any effective economy. Since the Industrial Revolution (Link) however, the face of the ‘supply’ end has been changing. As reliance on machines began to increase in the production of goods, the number of workers required has reduced correspondingly. Materials and goods are now produced more efficiently, and at lower costs to the producers.
Of course, like all things technologically driven, this process only tends to speed up exponentially over time. With the dawn of automation in factories, and technologies like 3D-Printing reinvigorating the revolutionary process begun in the 1800’s, the balance between supply and demand may never have seen such a radical shift. In fact, it’s entirely plausible that within a decade or two, we could produce the vast majority of our goods with little to no human investment.
As discussed in our article ‘On the Concept of Society’, the advancements of society are a cumulative process, and their rewards must therefore be shared equally amongst its constituents. Sadly, this is seldom the case.
While the supply end of the market grows ever easier, demand remains moreover the same, and the essential balance between the two becomes very different from what was initially intended. Rather than setting a price based on the amount of a good available contrasted against the demand for that good, we see a more methodical approach: With an unlimited quantity of a given commodity available to be produced at extremely low cost, what is the greatest amount that can be charged for that product without alienating consumers?
Therefore, the maximum amount is charged for all goods and services, while the financial gains resulting from improved means of production tend to filter only into the pockets of the business owners.
The final result is that the vast majority of the citizenry continues to struggle to meet their basic needs. Clearly, this system is no longer an acceptable form of management, but where do we go from here?
Let us consider the original need for economic systems such as the ‘free-market’ and its inherent reliance on ‘supply and demand’. The world—and moreover society—has always been in need of guidance, of a helping hand to direct us in the choices we need to make. In its historical absence, humans have spent the greater part of our existence inventing our own, then fighting over the results.
Usually, the established political system is intended to reign in the ambitions of the market place, but here too we have found ourselves struggling. Voters find themselves muzzled by corporate control of government, false-choice party politics, and the impossibility of getting any legitimate populist issue to the table past the corporate watchdogs.
So the economic systems can no longer function, and the political system won’t. There’s good news however. We may finally be at a point technologically where there is no longer any excuse not to begin work on a real solution to these co-morbid failings. A ‘God Program’, if you will. Its basis is already established in the internet, and certainly the tools are there to build towards an effort at human consensus through the ability to share ideas uncensored worldwide. This would benefit all people: both in the economic forum, and the political one.
Currently, the internet—with examples such as Reddit, Anonymous, Occupy Wall St. etc.—represents the incredible brilliance and diversity of our population. However, this brilliant spread of people have next to no representation in electoral politics. The political view is dominated by the opinions of crusty old business men who care only for their own profit margins.
Tapping into the full potential of the internet represents an incredible shift in our conceptions of democracy and political participation. In a return to something closer to Athenian Democracy (Link),this program would give the power of voice back to the electorate.
By fundamentally altering the existing architecture of the internet to handle these lofty ambitions, we could establish not only international, uninhibited communication on key political topics, but also a database of all fact and knowledge—with Wikipedia likely acting as a fine foundation for that concept.
The program would not only increase the political voice of all people, but fully manage the economic considerations outlined in our discussion of supply and demand. Its considerations would need to include population size and the balances therein, crop yield, required sources of work and how such might be distributed. Essentially, with a computer program evaluating all available supply and existing demand, society would largely be engineered rather than controlled—with science, math, and humanity acting as the fundamental drives, rather than money or power.
To be sure, this isn’t a new idea by any stretch—as far back as the founding of Technoracy Inc. (Link) in 1931, the notion of a society driven by logic and engineered from the ground up to meet the needs of all has been floating around. It just hasn’t gained much traction.
Why is that?
The society we have in mind would be ideal for everyone alive. With a perfect balance of resources, a deep understanding of social needs, and a computer program capable of predicting these needs and social shifts well in advance, we could hone our efficiency, while creating a Golden Age in regards to leisure time and cultural advancement.
Balancing all needs and efforts, and focussing a calculated portion of all proceeds towards scientific research that is not limited by the profit margins of corporate priorities, our overflow of resources could be harnessed to solve any new problem which might spring up—certainly not excluding the ultimate and near-inevitable need to begin mining and colonizing beyond Earth.
There would be room for businesses to thrive and continue to both produce and profit from innovative consumer goods in a truly free-market (un-manipulated by large-scale corporate interests), while government institutions and human resources would focus clearly on the benefit of all mankind.
With an extremely small and efficient active workforce, and the needs of all met by this program, opportunities would be available for anyone to pursue their passions, and these would directly benefit all. The idea of job shortages leading to poverty or starvation would be unheard of. Mothers or Fathers would stay home to take care of their children rather than greeting people at Walmart, and all people would be free to choose a pursuit which serves them the best.
The program would allow for balance and bounty, while increasing our leisure time and guiding us into a new era of economic and cultural prosperity.
So then, what might be standing in the way of such an idyllic solution? I suppose you’d have to ask yourself another question. Specifically—when we consider utilizing the internet as a salvation for society: controlling profits, balancing production, lowering costs, increasing personal freedom and social supports, improving unilateral political participation, and using excess profits for the betterment of all—exactly who could possibly stand to lose?
If you can answer that question, you’ll see the reason that society has not yet begun to take these easily available steps towards a more utopian ideal. But in the end, it’s not their hearts or minds upon which real change depends, but our own.
-Brad OH Inc.