[extropy-chat] Can the Future Do Without Economic Logic?

Technotranscendence neptune at superlink.net
Sat Dec 9 23:19:47 UTC 2006

On Saturday, December 09, 2006 3:41 PM Jef Allbright
jef at jefallbright.net wrote:
>>> http://www.mises.org/story/2402
>> "Goods that are in superabundance are not
>> subject to the study of praxeology, and
>> certainly not within the scope of catallactics."
>> An interesting observation/admission. It
>> suggests that if true nano-abundance arrives
>> on schedule, the future *must* do without
>> Misean (Misetian?) economic logic, no?
> The statement was correct, but keep in mind
> the qualifier referring only to those goods that
> are in superabundance.  While we may gain a
> superabundance of the material goods
> necessary to meet our basic needs and more,

Of course, what those "basic needs" are is relative.  Someone living in
the Stone Age might have thought the basic needs were a nice cave or
hut, some simple tools, some food, fire, and a small band of companions.
Last century, literacy, a decent job, a telephone, and good education
were considered among the basic necessities.  Some overzealous people
today think a gaming console, flat panel TV, iPod nano, and high-speed
internet connection are basic needs.

> in the bigger picture this will likely lead to
> economics driven by even larger gradients in
> the realm of new designs and associated
> demand.

And certainly the biggest money is not usually made in mining raw
materials or even in manufactures, but in coming with newer designs or
newer ways of doing these things.

> Not by those acting mainly on monkey
> motivations, but by agents operating at higher
> levels of organization, no?

I suspect the "monkey motivations" won't go away.  Even in advanced
societies today, people still want for all those things.  People can eat
for pennies a day, yet often choose more expensive means of satisfy
those "primitive" cravings.  :)  But your point seems correct:  that
something becomes a non-economic good* -- either because it's
superabundant or because it's no longer viewed as scarce -- new things
find their way into the mix.  Once one's belly is full, one can focus on
many other things -- the wants for which seem more abundant than any
possibility of fulfilling all.

I do see, too, a problem with some <fill-in-the-blank> enthusiasts in
claiming any or all problems will be eliminated with
<fill-in-the-blank>.  Isn't that a meme to watch out for?  Doesn't it
often come across as an infomercial mentality?  I'm not saying this
because I've somehow transcended this.  I'm not just a critic, I'm one
of the criticized.  And if you act now...  :)



*  By no means a permanent state and always relative to the person,
time, and wider context.  Notice how people's actions and motivations
change over their life times or depending on their circumstances.
Katrina victims were, before Katrina, not too worried about clean water,
sanitation, and the usual, oft ignored pleasantries of modern American
life.  Right after the disaster, this changed.  Suddenly, many of them
were thrown into a state similar to that Stone Aged character above.

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