What follows is a short essay I completed for my Managerial Economics module, part of my EMBA course I am taking at the Hult International Business School and it is inspired by the “Zero Marginal Cost society” envisioned by Jeremy Rifkin.
What close are these snapshots from what will actually happen by 2035?
Martin wakes up. It’s 11 o’clock. He takes a shower and meanwhile reads the news & check his emails on the shower glass. He picks up a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a jacket and go to a Cafe where he gets a Latte, some fresh fruits and a croissant. The place has about 35 tables. Each one accommodates 4 to 6 people. There are some whiteboards around.
In the world of Martin, most people work in the service economy which lately has grown mostly in the fields of the arts, culture, filmmaking, entertainment, theatre, food & cooking, education, sports, wellbeing, health, information technology, design and many other jobs that require lots of common sense. Yes, these are the jobs that robots cannot do yet. Common sense is a difficult task for robots and artificial intelligence. Plumbers, artisans, pizza makers, baristas are some more examples of jobs that still need human common sense.
Luckily enough, robots do most of the jobs anyway. The marginal cost of almost anything is low, allowing the society as a whole to be as productive as ever, with little direct labor involved. More value now is being created from the same amount of capital and work.
Using the internet and the data coming from the trillions of sensors embedded in everything, there is hardly any waste of resources: transportation, energy, people, infrastructure and beyond. We have never been as rich as today.
What drives the economy is the most human part of people: creativity. It is “creativity” that fosters innovation. And creativity nowadays is hardly owned by corporations. As most people are knowledge workers connected to an ever changing marketplace of opportunities, people work on projects based on personal preferences and fit.
Everybody is a company, everybody is a brand.
This has led to almost total flexibility in the workforce, with companies hiring on a project basis and looking for the best talent, wherever is available.
Martin does not own a car or a house and tends to rent almost everything he uses. As most people of his generation, does not have an interest on owning things. It is not a status symbol as it used to be in the past. The relationship of people towards “things” has dramatically changed over the past 15 years as people are more conscious on the impact of their purchasing decisions on the planet. This is why owning stuff that would stay idle most of the time is seen as a negative trait from society.
The social impact each company has on society has become a real business driver. As people can get similar products from companies that do have a positive impact on the society, companies are competing on the good they are doing to the world as a way to gain customers preferences.
Martin lives in the niche economy. Thanks to the availability of technology, knowledge, information and low cost of products or services creation and delivery, a whole new range of micro, small and medium enterprises have grown, contributing up to the 82% of the total value added creation in the economy.
While Martin is sipping his Latte, he votes for 3 new law proposals that are being discussing at the parliament. After the great pressure that most governments suffered from the community about its decisions via Social Media, nowadays is common to consult the broad population on many decisions of public interest.
The Government has the main goal of keeping the neutrality of the internet and to govern intellectual property in such an open world to keep “the platform” open and accessible to everyone who is part of the community.
Martin now lives in a world where he counts more than ever. A world where everybody has the possibility to emerge and, for the very same reason, it is difficult to do so. It is a world of niches and communities of interests that go beyond old national borders. Communities that drive specific markets dynamics and that big companies have hard time to understand. Ironically, the globalization was not what many had in mind at the beginning of the century: the homogenization of consumer preferences. It turned out to be the other way around: every community has its own version of fashion, music, food, believes, and more.
Martin lives in the society of no more-middlemen. Even retail spaces are now places of relationship with brands, more than places where to buy products. Car dealers, brokers, real estate agents, travel agents and the likes are portraits of the past.
Martin goes back home. Kisses her daughter, brings in his japan-mex dishes dinner. Before going to bed, checks his energy account and discovers to be richer than the day before as he is producing his own energy. Then he closes three projects he was doing for three different companies.
For Martin, tomorrow will be another day where to create his own future.