Ah, the twelve days of Christmas.
Wait, is that twelve days leading up to Christmas or 12 days after Christmas?
Heh, well I’ll be damned. It appears the 12 days of Christmas start the day of or the day AFTER Christmas, so now I have to name it something else.
Welcome to the 12 days of (Irrational?) Thought!
Over the course of the next 12 days I’ll be posting 12 future thinking concepts and applying the same methods I’ve been practicing with the various Ted Talks. Why? Cause it’s freakin fun and pointless, that’s why!
Day ONE – A Future without Money
Ever see those videos how Star Trek predicted (or inspired) modern day conveniences?
(Interestingly enough, the two links above lead to two different lists)
One more thing that the Trekkies might mention, is that money (on Earth) is a concept that is no longer used. (Although the Federation does use economies of trade with other races, as its an excellent plot device)
So the general description is that Earthlings all decided to become a bunch of hippies that were focused on the betterment of the species.
Is that remotely possible? How close are we to that today? How can we adopt such a philosophy without the world breaking apart into a million little armed groups that drive around trying to steal each other’s gas?
Worse, there are several concepts that immediately fight the idea of a moneyless economy, how are limited space/goods sorted out? When things have priority sequences, how can they be fairly partitioned without a limiting metric that is measurable? Won’t lazy people just become ultra lazy and become so lazy that they laze around all lazy like? Won’t abusers overly abuse the system?
But are these trepidations stemming from the fact that I am originating from a money based economy ? In other words, I’ve never seen it so I don’t know.
I’m immediately reminded of the concept of truancy law.
If you were to watch some old black and white television, there are instances where kids that wander away from school during the day, are pretty much arrested and brought home to their parents.
Of course, it’s not a choke hold take down. This would be a ‘little Jimmy is a boy being boys’, in an apple pie based environment and the cops might tussle the kids hair before letting him go. Knowing full well his mama would probably next hit the boy’s rear with a rolling pin.
Man, have the times changed.
However to avoid digressing from the topic at hand, I’ll try to quickly summarize the cheery idea that children do not ‘NEED’ to be policed for truancy while in public spaces. The laws still exist but the is a much greater understanding that kids who are in school, KNOW the importance of getting an education.
Please understand that I’m using a very old fashioned sense of ‘youth know importance of education’. People aren’t really shouting phrases like “I don’t need to learn how to READ!’ as much as they used to. There are plenty of students who are in the education system and aren’t properly utilizing it to the utmost.
Yet at the same time, we have a example of MANY individuals who leave home, go to a location, perform work, follow orders and maintain discipline.
And they aren’t getting paid.
Students aren’t hired to be students. (They might even be ‘paying’ to be there.)
So the social construct, that humans require monetary payment to do work, is automatically invalid. There is a pre-existing example formula that exists (and there will be certain levels with which students enjoy or “work hard”) but the overall process is what I’m referencing.
Of course, there are exceptions, however as a general statement I’ll say that students know that they are there for a greater good. (No matter how fuzzy that might be to them)
However, although the human work involved is free of charge, the materials and location all have costs associated with them. How can these be traded for without money?
And immediately I notice I use the word trade there.
The concept of money is a catalyst for quick trading between two interested groups. Much like the craiglist trading section, where you can see trade offers of a trampoline in exchange for an old computer. Not everyone has an old computer. Or a trampoline.
What gives objects value? Limitations in quantity, difficulty in assembly, materials used, possible sentimental / historical values, etc.
If I were to say to you, that in 50 years, possibly less, there will be a 3d printer in every house and people will be buying ‘rights to print’ instead of the objects themselves, would that be so far fetched?
Cheap 3d Printers exist
This easily could be fitted into a 3d printer for the basic start of printing for electronics.
For edible printed food, the cheapest fair seems to be coming from hacking Soylent into a printable form with taste options.
Of course, the first thing most people would probably print will be servant robots to do their crappy chores and cleaning. The same type of robots that would be used in harvesting the materials that the 3d printers require. I’m going into story book land with this one, but I’m just trying to save some time here.
In other words, we could be close to having very cheap personalized manufactured goods.
Of course, in the same breath, we could all technically be using solar panels, yet here we are.
What about allocation of space and housing? Thanks to the internet, the importance of local convenience has been reduced drastically. Meetings can be held across countries with very little difficulty. Thanks to social media such as Twitter, an individual can very easily contact another individual with a 140 keystroke limit.
However even when ‘spaced out’, wouldn’t limitations of space naturally exist? The entire world can’t live on beach front property.
Would we DESIRE it? If the future of holiday travel included another Star Trek invention, a Holi-deck (see what I did there? I took Holodeck and renamed it Holideck, after holidays) where people could have whatever kind of environment they desired, that might switch things towards a different kind of social cocooning. (Non dissimilar to the advent of suburban housing vs city housing) In other words, where you desire to live is part of a social construct that is an evolutionary system, it can change.
As of today, the closest thing we have is still being tested out with things like the Oculus Rift. Here’s an article from two days ago about this technology.
What I look forward to, is the day it’s a blended as a user defined alternate reality (let’s name it UDAR). In effect, the user still views their immediate reality but can transpose alternates into place.
The idea goes like this.
You go home to your apartment, it is small. On the wall, there are shelves where you keep books and knickknacks. You put on the UDAR device, and after setting to ‘home entertainment’, when looking at the wall where there was a shelf it is now a 60 ft big screen television.
As long as you have the device on, you’ve got a giant tv to watch movies, surf the internet, make giant shadow puppet shows with. The moment you take it off, it’s back to just a bookshelf and you go to sleep on your dirty cot in the corner of the room.
Except maybe you keep the device on, and the cot now looks like a bed with a canopy that’s gently floating on a pond.
So the concepts for a civilian populace to not need money, is technically possible with mostly ‘today’s’ technology. The question is, how could we get THE ENTIRE WORLD, to adopt this at relatively the same time.
There are plenty of places where money is still a ‘must’. However, much like the social media footprint, it is becoming a world where people will need to be born outside of the system to not be included within it automatically. There is a possibility that someday in the far future, every person born, will be automatically tallied into an online social construct just for them to interact.
(And that’s actually really cool, despite having some Orwellian based fears)
So is it possible for us to no longer need money? Maybe.
It really is a sure, why not, situation. However like most future concepts, it will require a great deal of change.
At the end of it all, I say, everything else in Star Trek has become real so why not this? This one is not a matter of why or how, but simply a question of WHEN.