Friday, 25 November 2016

The rise of digital technology

Taken from this video (video) featuring an interview with Douglas Rushkoff (http://www.rushkoff.com/).

So this is a very short version of the information contained in the video above.

Basically at the moment everyone expects constant growth in the economy.  This is unsustainable, so as a species we have to change what we do.

History tells us that the need for constant growth had it's roots in the 13th century when the crusaders returned from the middle east and introduced the idea of trading and markets.  This led to sustained growth in Europe as people traded their wares and labour with the introduction of monetary systems.

At the time the "elites" were the nobility and they passed laws to outlaw local currency and to ensure that the various trades were employed under the control of the elites.  This was the birth of the employee.  Any money in the economy had to be worked for or borrowed with interest and hence the constant need for growth was born.  This worked well for centuries as the west expanded but now the planet is being plundered over it's capacity and can no longer support constant growth.

Then along comes disruptive technology like Amazon and Uber.  Uber uses technology to out perform local taxi companies.  A relatively simple application that costs little generates huge income for a very small company in a far off land.  This is a destructive relationship sucking money out of local economies.

Why do disruptive companies act in this way.  It is all about the way money is provided to start ups. A company like Twitter has a turnover of 2B$ which is seen as inadequate when compared to AirBnB and Uber. This is because investors and shareholders demand huge returns.  The only element that matters for these businesses is Capital.  They do not rely on people or owning land.  They act remotely and vacuum up money depleting local economies.

Basically the operating system of our economy is a 13th century relic being used to run 21st century technology companies.  We need technology companies that work locally so that cities can hang on to local generated money and create value.  We need to stop extracting money and focus on the flow of money in the local economy.  We need to decouple work from employment.

One idea is to create platforms co-ops like Winco Foods that out competes Walmart and is owned by it's employees.

We need to focus on our local cities.  We need to create high technology local businesses ideally based on co-operative principles.  Each city has people that need services, we just need to ensure these needs are met by local businesses and  skills and not outsourced to distant super wealthy technology companies.