A long time ago I pondered the idea from star trek that it might be possible to live in a world where there was no money.
The system existed such that there were robots to make whatever you wanted, and there were robots to fix the broken robots.
You could requisition whatever you wanted, and you would get it as long as it didn’t impede on anybody else’s freedoms yada yada yada, Lots of details to work out, but in the basic form, if you had free labor in the form of robots and nobody owned the land from which the resources were drawn, it might be possible to live in a world like that.
Everybody has leisure time all the time. Nobody goes without food or shelter, some would have it better than others, but perhaps at some point the desire for materialism would fade because the ownership of toys would no longer be an indicator of status. Something else would be. Perhaps creativity. You’re cooler if you can dream up something even more insane for the robots to make for you.
Sure there would be rebels, there would be people who wanted it the old way. There are currently people in this world who live without money, it can work. There are also people in this world who re-enact famous moments in the civil war, so I expect there would also be people who would want to live with money just because it was a novelty.
I realize this sounds a little like communism, but the key point here is that there is no government or higher class running things, and nobody has to work for anything. It would be less unfair, because everybody would have unlimited amounts of whatever they wanted, and nobody would be oppressed in any way because somebody else wanted more. There are plenty of things you can’t have in this world, and there are plenty of things you still wouldn’t be able to have. The only difference here is robots and no money.
I can imagine a world where the status quo was leisure, and the effort you made in your life was to figure out creative ways to pass the time.
There would be criminals, there would still be prejudices, and somebody would have to mete out the punishment and those would be robots too, and many people wouldn’t like the idea of the robots having the authoritative power and everybody questions who controls the robots and so on and so forth, I understand there are problems to be dealt with.
But that’s not what I’m interested in. I think that can all largely be worked out.
What I find to be a fascinating problem is how to get from here to there. That’s been bugging me for a long long time.
And yesterday I think I had an inkling of how to make it work.
For hundreds of generations, humans have been raised with the notion of property ownership and pay-for-labor and the terribly complexities of social rank endowed by their perceived net worth.
There are lots of people in the world, some buy into it, some do not, but everybody has to play ball. Just because you don’t believe in paying taxes, doesn’t mean you don’t have to. Just because you think food should be free, doesn’t mean you don’t have to work to acquire money to buy food to live. That’s just how it is, and that’s all most of us have ever known.
So assuming it is possible to live in a world without money how do you get from here to there.
And I think that the key part of the solution is to do just that: physically migrate to a money free state.
You can’t just blanket say one day “any property you own no longer belongs to you” or “any money you have acquired up until now is not worth anything.” Nobody would go for it. The “everybodys” would rebel against the “sayers”. It just wouldn’t fly.
But what if a few industrious types set up a plop of land somewhere, and built the robots.
The robots would do work, perhaps mine natural resources and manufacture things. They would sell these things for money to the rest of the world. The money would be used to buy more land and parts and materials and natural resources to make this somewhereland function on its own. After all, the plop of land is small and doesn’t have all the resources of the world available to it (yet), so it needs to import them. At the moment it sounds like a company.
But the people who live there don’t work and don’t take a salary. They are cared for by the robots. And they spend their time doing nothing or figuring out neat things for the robots to do, if they want.
Anyway, the robots keep making more robots and more and more normal-world people slowly give up all their other worldly crap and move to somewhereland. Somewhereland grows in size and starts having more self sustaining resources available to it. More room for people to go there, more resources to use to sustain the people and the robots, and of course, make more robots.
At some point, the tide will turn, the the people not in somewhereland will start running out of parts and people to make them, and the expertise to care for the sick and so on.
And then somewhereland will start giving these things away for free. Or perhaps in trade for more land for somewhereland.
This would be a very slow process, and take a long long time, generations perhaps, but it is a way to slowly transition from one state to the other without anybody have to break any of their taboos or switch on a particular day from owning property to not owning property.
Everybody would voluntarily sell their land in trade for this new lifestyle.
And if it were managed correctly, I think it could work.
I obviously haven’t flushed this out having just thought of it yesterday, but there’s an inkling of an idea here. I’ll keep working on it.
Perhaps it wouldn’t even have to be all one way or the other. People who didn’t want to join somewhereland could stay where they were and just buy what they needed from the robots in somewhereland. They could even buy robots from somewhereland and used them themselves, and still keep their money. It could work both ways at the same time.
But I think a path to make it work, is possible.