Abundance would have some odd consequences

We are so used to scarcity that radical abundance breaks our economic mechanisms. For instance, David Wong wrote a book I like. I bought both the written and audiobook version of “John Dies at the End.” Also, I watched the movie on Netflix. So, I traded my scarce money for three copies of an unlimited commodity: the text, audio and video files that were streamed to my various devices. I use David Wong as an example because he also wrote a fantastic article about artificial scarcity.

He is relying on the artificial scarcity of his work in order to pay his mortgage.

Some things are valuable because they are scarce (like gold and diamonds). David Wong’s book is not like that. It is valuable because it’s fun to read/watch. More copies created means more people reading/watching. That translates into more value created. If we made a copy of his work for every man woman and child on earth, the world would be richer, not poorer. And yet we would have destroyed his ability to pay his bills.

I mused yesterday about the Star Trek replicator. If everyone had a replicator, everyone would be very wealthy (in terms of their access to material goods). And yet, most people would be out of a job. Despite the world being very wealthy, no one would be able to pay their mortgage.

It’s a strange contradiction.