“Time is money.
Money is time.”
If you just remember the movie "In Time" (2011) a remake of the short movie "The Price of Life" (1987) sorry to disappoint you but this is not that kind of story.
Many people are frequently asking whether it is possible to have an economy without money. When I say this, I do not mean an economy where physical currency, gold, silver, etc. will be replaced with electronic equivalents like Bitcoin. I mean no money at all.
So, how do we do that?
The only thing we will ever have is time, and the only decision we need to make is how to spend the moment we have, until there is no more.In the 1930s, Soviet mathematician Leonid Kantorovich theorized that it could be possible to use a mathematical procedure to determine economic output for the given input.
At the time, it was impossible to calculate this, because of the large number of goods and people involved, but, with the exponential growth of information science, now we have the technology capable of calculating this complex equation in a matter of minutes.
What would that may look like?
First forget the money. For each product we make there are 3 components: effort of a human being, time spent, and technology.
Now, imagine that there is no advance technology; in order to calculate a price expressed with time, we would need to include all middle steps and necessary tools we need to create and knowledge we need to gain in order to achieve this. Therefore, one brick, for instance, could cost around 2 hours, and, with mass production and better organization, we could decrease that time to, let’s say, 30 minutes. But, with better technology, that time could be decreased even further to a few minutes or seconds.
Following the same logic, each product would have a time cost; for instance: a pen would cost 1 minute, a glass 2 minutes, and a computer 37 minutes.
Then, each person would go to a website similar to Amazon or Etsy and select everything he/she desires. At the end, AI would calculate, in combination with all other people “placing orders,” what one person needs to do or learn, and how much personal time and effort he/she needs to spend working, in order to get all the things s/he chose.
So, there are a few questions and possible issues about described system.
First issue is: what if someone does not do what was promised?
Well, just like in our world, s/he would be penalized (punished, jailed) for not fulfilling the social contract.
Next, as technology is a work multiplier and reduces necessary work involvement or time to zero (especially in the realm of AI), all products will, at the end, cost zero time. At that point we have the following issue: if everything costs zero time, that means that an infinite number of goods are available for every person, and, because we live in a finite world, we know that this is not possible, unless we place ourselves in a virtual environment.
At that point, it would be necessary to prevent people from “ordering” a planet’s worth of chocolate cakes, so, there will be need to somehow limit our expenditure to things we really need and, yet again, find a way to reward prominent members of society and avoid crippling down progress because a wrong social contracts could prevent people from inventing new things as they do not have access to necessary resources.
Imagine Tesla at the beginning of the “War of currents.” Clearly, you have a man asking for resources, but, in the approval panel is a person who is already a very well established scientist (Edison), he has a closed mind, and he is in favor of DC currents, so he would never approve any further experiments in the field of AC, saying that all attempts in the AC field are just a waste of time. In a society without money, we need to prevent those things, as they would certainly lead to a new type of conservative thinking and numbing down the progress. We need a society in which it will be ok to try new things and fail.
The key question is whether a society without money will be a Utopia. As I have said many times, we can create a technologically-advanced society, socially-advanced society, and we can have extremely high standards of living, but we will still have issues — many of them. You name it: social issues, technological issues, environmental issues, universe issues (exploding stars, black holes, meteors, comets, etc.), and many others.
At the other end of the rope, there are our internal universes and our personal issues — always unsatisfied, no matter what.
But, can we live without money? Time will tell... ;)
If you liked this story, you may like my book.
System Upgrade v2.016:
Solutions for a failing economy, wealth distribution, declining democracy, climate change, and robots that steal jobs