TIR Lëtzebuerg 2016: the Rifkin report (part 10)


Part 1: ..ENERGY (1/2)
Part 2. ..ENERGY (2/2)
Part 3: ..MOBILITY
Part 5:  ..FOOD
Part 6:  ..INDUSTRY
Part 7:  ..FINANCE
Part 12: My conclusion



This part 10 comment is on the chapter PROSUMERS & SOCIAL MODEL (p. 383 to 419)

The main subject is that the future economic model will be one of shared economy, where the citizens are happy not to own some good, but to share their own goods and services with others. This sharing will be done not for financial gain, but rather moral satisfaction. Whenever possible, the future prosumers ( = consumers and producers) will assemble into cooperatives. A very big problem will be the level playing field between this type of economy and the still existing “capitalistic” one, so the state must insure strict control and guidelines: for instance every participant in sharing must use a unique web portal (p.416). This inherent loss of freedom is perceptible throughout the chapter, but usually well hidden under well-meaning phrases. This new economy should be 100% electric (p.412); I do not  understand why non-electric energy forms should be banned (solar heating for instance is non-electric).

The chapter contains one sentence that I find excellent: at p. 415 we find that “every citizen should have the right to disconnect”  i.e. he should be allowed to become unreachable. I just wonder how with the myriad of IoT’s gathering data all the time this pious wish should become existent. I see the coming all-invasive state more inclined to forbid that the citizen becomes unreachable and to try its uttermost not to lose control!

At page 404 the ominous Global Warming shows up again (quite unnecessary!), with numerous potential catastrophes in the making.

The chapter has many lines on education and schooling. The classification of “older education” as authority driven repetitive learning is so cliché! Collaborative learning is nothing new, but it seems that some authors still suffer from a post-school trauma. At page 418 it is asked that coding (programming) in school should begin as early as possible. I am sympathetic with this idea, but am not sure that future ICT awareness will need programming skills for everybody.

As the economy changes from the “old” capitalistic model to the new sharing, producing goods will be more and more automated and need less and less workers, but the social economy will become very labor intensive. This could well be the case, but I do not quite understand how we should create more and more micro-entrepreneurs, and produce with less and less people. The cost of the social economy (which might well be desirable) could be extravagant, and must be paid somehow.

To conclude, this chapter has many aspects of well-meaning, generosity, willingness to give etc. that could be found in a religious teaching, or in one of the first communist ideas. I think that open source and non proprietary goods have a great future, but I am skeptic of their potential to become the exclusive feature of the future economy.

(end of part 10)

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