Effortless Economy

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= a form of Post-Scarcity Economics

Essay = Toward an Effortless Economy

Part of the project on Mutually Assured Production


Nathan W. Cravens:


"The social environment that will arise from highly adaptive intelligent automations are what is called a post-labor or effortless economy, a world devoid of labor and employment due to affordable mass duplication of dynamically reciprocal communication and control systems that continuously cease to perpetuate human financial value, industry by industry, market sector by sector. The outcome will consist of everyone out of a paying job, or if preferred, in perpetual retirement from any given field imaginable.

The theoretical basis of effortless economy and the continuously evolving productive automation foreseen to remain constant is called zero-point competition, an emergent behavior of business competition and consumer demand whereby the firm most prefers zero cost to produce goods for a consumer who prefers not to pay for them. Though the idea of free stuff may be as old as consciousness itself, the action based on this ideology is scarcely measured, which may seem somewhat surprising when it has for so long encouraged a substantial developmental drive, one that creates more intelligent mechanisms based on previous ones, which will later precipitate, simulate, and virtually assemble, effortlessly, any materials or constructs for zero financial cost.

Like labor, capital too has a shelf life. Once capital is no longer a scarce resource[1] it will cease to be capital. It is the exemplar of zero-point competition in action. Before corporate functions achieve zero-point production and therefore consumption, there will be no reason for corporate functions to continue. All material needs and spacial boundaries will be rendered as needed in the same manner one uses a telephone for conversation. Examples of this trend are found in grocery store self-checkouts, the emergence of free and more reliable knowledge and open source software on the Internet, the decreasing income of the college educated, the sharp decline of industrial labor over the past half century, and the decline in management positions only second to industrial job loss between 2000-2003[12]—just to name a few glaring examples. At the post-capitalist stage, it is likely intelligent systems will take the place of government officials and legislation to distribute resources[2], continue to streamline productivity that sustain living environments, and foster further development to ensure future growth and freedoms." [1]


"Over a year ago I formulated the concept of Effortless Economy to describe and observe the particular trends of 'zero-point competition,' a particular evolutionary activity I first sensed, then witnessed all around me as I began to look, namely at the things made closer and closer to zero financial cost most prominently observed in the computer hardware industry and software industry, but also observable in the labor markets of the United States, where wages have stagnated at best for the past few decades followed by a majority that began tumbling into debt sometime in the early 1990s. Its not simple retail workers getting jipped by self checkout kiosks either, labor stats show that in the early '10s management positions, a white collar position, was in decline next in line with factory work. (Neil Baily, Martin. Z. Lawrence, Robert. What Happened to the Great US Job Machine?) Stephen Baker's The Numerati[3] offers a telling story of the Taylorization and automation of the service and information economies, the last of the foreseeable labor markets.

These sorts of observable trends seem to strongly suggest that, once I found a term for it, Effortless Economy was nearly inevitable. I usually refer to Effortless Economy as an economic system that does not require a workforce. An EE would be just a skip and a jig away from a post-scarcity society, where all resources are created from a minimal amount of physical resources. I don't believe an absolute post- scarcity environment can exist, not unless we can somehow create something out of the vacuum of nothingness. Placing the philosopher's crown upon my head, I don't deny that possibility, but I do my best to align with 'scientific evidence' and current understandings of what various experts think is possible, building from there. An Effortless Economy is a fully automated economy, from producer to user. Open Manufacturing is crucial to making the productive apparatus we rely on freely available without taking control by force or exploitation, or even air tight reasoning. As labor economies fall off the productive wagon, the sorts of open agencies we discuss will be of even greater importance.

On January 19, 2008 I launched the Effortless Economy Institute with the essay 'Toward an Effortless Economy' and began studying a variety of fields mentioned on my EE bio. The Effortless Economy Institute was formed to analyze trends in market activity that go toward zero with a focus on labor markets and to observe social movements with the potential to achieve abundance like the P2P Foundation and other organizations that might not realize they are apart of the abundance revolution, such as The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, The Foresight Nanotech Institute, and OpenCog" [2]

More Information

  1. Effortless Economy Institute

See Also