Jeremy Rifkin on the Fall of Capitalism and the Internet of Things


Written by:

We are just beginning to glimpse the bare
outlines of an emerging new economic system, the collaborative commons. This is the first
new economic paradigm to emerge on the world scene since the advent of capitalism and socialism
in the early 19th century. So it’s a remarkable historical event. It has long-term implications
for society. But what’s really interesting is the trigger that’s giving birth to this
new economic system. The trigger is something called zero marginal cost. Now, marginal costs
are the costs of producing an additional unit of a good and service after your fixed costs
are covered. Business people are all aware of marginal costs, most of the public isn’t.
But this idea of zero marginal cost is going to dramatically intimately affect every single
person in the world in the coming years in every aspect of their life. There’s a paradox deeply embedded in the very
heart of the capitalist market system previously really undisclosed. This paradox has been
responsible for the tremendous success of capitalism over the last two centuries. But
here’s the irony, the very success of this paradox is now leading to an end game and
a new paradigm emerging out of capitalism is collaborative commons. Let me explain.
In a traditional market, sellers are always constantly probing for new technologies that
can increase their productivity, reduce their marginal costs so they can put out cheaper
products and win over consumers and market share and beat out their competitors and bring
some profit back to investors. So business people are always looking for ways to increase
productivity and reduce their marginal cost, they simply never expected in their wildest
dreams that there would be a technology revolution so powerful in it’s productivity that it might
reduce those margins of cost to near zero making goods and services essentially free,
priceless and beyond the market exchange economy. That’s now beginning to happen in the real
world. The first inklings of this zero margin cost
phenomenon was with the inception of the World Wide Web from 1990 until 2014. We saw this
zero marginal cost phenomenon invade the newspaper industry, the magazine industry and book publishing.
With the coming of the World Wide Web and the Internet all of a sudden millions of people,
then hundreds of millions of people, and now 40 percent of the human race with very cheap
cell phones and computers they’re sending audio, video and texting each other at near
zero marginal cost. So what’s happened is millions of consumers became prosumers with
the advent of the Internet. And so they’re producing and sharing their own videos, their
own news blogs, their own entertainment, their own knowledge with each other in these lateral
networks at near zero marginal costs and essentially for free bypassing the capitalist market,
in many instances altogether. This zero marginal cost phenomena, as it invaded the information
industries, wreaked havoc on big, big industries. Newspapers went out of business; they couldn’t
compete with near zero marginal costs. Magazines went out of business. And my own industry
publishing has been just wracked by free e-books and free knowledge and information. But, you know, the strange thing about it
is at first a lot of industry watchers said this is a good thing because if we give out
more and more information goods free and people are producing and sharing it free, these freemiums
will stimulate people’s appetite to want premiums and then upgrade this free goods and information
by getting more customized information. I’ll give you an example. Musicians give away their
music free when they started to see this happen hoping that they would get a big loyal fan
repertoire and then their fans would be enticed to go to their concerts and pay premium in
order to be there in person. And then, of course, we saw this with newspapers. The New
York Times will give you ten free articles a month, freemiums, hoping that you’ll then
upload upgrade to premiums and by their subscription service. It didn’t happen on any large scale.
This was very naïve by industry watchers. Sure, some people have moved from freemiums
to premiums but when more and more information goods are out there nearly free shared with
each other, music, film, arts, information and knowledge, attention span is not there
to then want to go to the premiums when you have so much available already in the freemiums. So, economists have come back recently and
said all right, we understand that information goods are moving towards near zero marginal
cost devastating the newspaper industry, magazines, book publishing, et cetera, but there’s a
firewall here that this new year zero marginal cost phenomenon on the Internet it won’t pass
the firewall into the physical world of physical goods and services, the brick and mortar world;
the world of energy and physical products. That’s no longer the case. There’s a new technology
revolution coming online that’s making it possible for millions and soon hundreds of
millions and eventually billions of people to not only produce and share their own information
goods but now energy and physical goods. And it’s called the Internet of Things. This is
the expansion of the Internet and it’s all happening in the last 12 months. Now this
is a pretty new phenomenon. What’s going on here is the traditional Internet
that we’re all so familiar with is now converging with a very fledgling energy Internet and
a nascent logistics and transport Internet. And as these three Internets come together
they’re creating a single operating platform, a nervous system, a sort of intelligent brain.
And they’re taking this brain and they’re attaching sensors now across the entire value
chain of the economy to feed into this three Internets, energy, communication and logistics.
So right now we have 13 billion sensors out there connecting appliances and things with
human beings. We have sensors connecting resource flows in nature. We have sensors at warehouse
and distribution centers. We have sensors on the smart roves monitoring traffic. We
have sensors on the factory floor constantly keeping up-to-date information on the flow
of production in the factories. We have sensors in the front and back office, sensors in retail
stores. We have sensors all across the system feeding big data back. What’s interesting is 13 billion sensors now,
IBM says in 2020 we’ll have 30 billion sensors connecting everything with every being. And
by 2030 the most recent forecast we’ll have a hundred trillion sensors connecting all
of us in one vast lateral neural network made up of three operating engines. A communication
Internet converging with an energy and a logistics Internet. And let me say one more thing about
these three engines. When you look back at every society, their economic platforms always
contained three elements, a form of communication, a form of energy to power a society and a
form of mobility to move economic activity. For example, in the 19th century the first
Industrial Revolution their communication was steam power printing and later the telegraph
to move economic activity. The form of energy was coal and steam power. The form of mobility
was the locomotive and the railroads. And that platform allowed us to build out a first
industrial revolution. In the 20th century we had these three as
well, these components, communication, energy and mobility. The communication was centralized
electricity and especially the telephone and later radio and television. The form of energy
was oil, and the mobility was the internal combustion engine. And that platform then
allowed us to have a great advance of economic opportunity in the 20th century with the second
Industrial Revolution. This expanse of Internet, this Internet of Things brings us to a third
Industrial Revolution. And the form of communication is the Internet. The form of power is renewable
energy, distributed renewable energy. And the form of mobility is driverless automated
vehicles, logistics and automated drones. So what we’re seeing is just the first inklings
of this new platform, these three Internets in one. And what this allows us to do is any
consumer can become a prosumer just like we did with information goods on the old Internet,
access this new Internet of Things and have available to us a complete stream of data
from every part of the economy. That means you and I, small cooperatives, small businesses,
large companies, if it keeps its network neutrality we all have equal access like we did with
the Internet. So we can go up on this Internet of Things
now and we can take that big data flowing through the system from the devices all the
way to these three Internets and any of us with our own apps and our own mobile technology
will be able to use the big data and combine it with analytics to create our own algorithms
just like the big guys at Google. And it won’t be rocket science because those apps will
be programmed for us. So we can create our own apps with our mobile technology, using
that big data to dramatically increase our productivity, reduce our marginal cost in
the production of physical things like energy and 3-D printed products. That’s already begun.

100 Replies to “Jeremy Rifkin on the Fall of Capitalism and the Internet of Things”

  1. Ben Berzai says:

    For the final time: “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” Hayek

  2. eliasath says:

    the world changed from the middle ages to Renaissance with the invention of typography, knowledge become accessible and so the truth. The same thing is happening now with the internet. But during and after all this revolutions of big ideas still there are poor people, wars, injustice and many bad things. Everything is possible, even a new failure, if We continue to thing new things with the same way of thinking.

  3. Theseustoo Astyages says:

    Just because something can be produced with 'near zero marginal cost' doesn't mean it will be sold for 'near zero marginal profit'… :/

  4. andy crossfit says:

    In a Darwin economy, capitalists will always win. whether in 1st, 2nd or third industrial revolution. masses will never win.
    the old capitalists are replaced by the new one.
    for example : jeff bezos among many becomes the new capitalist

  5. Julien Colot says:

    This guy is a fraud.

  6. Azula Vow says:


  7. kgtmustang says:

    Captalism, hmm. The real issue begins with the fact that what we have evolved that into is nothing alike real capitalism.

    Consider: Capitalism – the process and system that allows freedom to bring forth inventions, products, and services into a marketplace and offer them at a fair and competitive price.

    What we have is- capitalism – the transformation of another persons failure, tragedy, property, ideas, products, goods, and/or services and hyjack them therfoe making them into ones own.

    The new capitalism is CANNIBALISM> socially, ecomonically, and humanly. Trademarks mean little. Theft of product design is nothing. There are no boundaries within this new cannibalism and with it we have eaten/devoured our own selves.

    The 2nd evil inherent with that is MONETIZATION. All pro sports are monetized into being FAKED AND STAGED PERFORMANCES. Collegiate atheletics have been dragged into that fray. Everyone is looking for that magical CASH COW. Nobody wants to work a steady and honest trade for a decent living and a home & family anymore.

    Instead everyone is only seeking for the Shangri La in the urbanized world. IT DOESNT EXIST. That doesnt matter. Everyday people are just as inherently evil, greedy, and corrupt as all the big boys are. What happened to "everyone is basically decent"? People will not even pick up litter in their own neighborhood because IT DOESNT PAY THEM. Duhh, yes it does. It pays you off in having a better place to live. MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING. It is much closer to nothing, except for one thing and never forget this: MONEY IS THE MOST POWERFUL DRUG ON EARTH. Nothing is close to it. We are all mass addicts to this green monster drug and the detoxing that is looming as thatd rugs supply dries up will be beyond apocalypse.

    Rifkin has some ideas. Better then many others offered. The issue I have with the entire A.I. endgame is that computers do not need to survive so what is their purpose? They have only one = to be tools for man. No true A.I. world could exist because it would have no reason too and this sounds WAY too much like the illuminati depopulation agenda carved into stone on the Georgia guidestones.

    As far as killing the grid, oh yes. as far as killing the Have's vs the have nots, oh yes on steroids. IT IS NOT A COMMUNIST IDEOLOGY that considers food, clothing, and basic shelter should not be EXTORTED OUT OF US AT THE COST OF OUR WHOLE LIVES AND MEAGER EARNINGS. It is also not communist to believe that some people simply have a little too damn much of the pie and have no freakin way to eat it. Any good parent would spank their ass and teach them to SHARE WITH THEIR BROTHERS.

    Nuff said.

  8. הוنᄀバコᄂᄃɸฅจـهـ母表จาøนحöܠʢܢחق한국어י says:

    In Capitalism, man exploits man. In Communism, it's the other way around.

  9. I. Kaminskiy says:

    I like this guy but he's not bringing anything new here. Venus project and Zeitgeist Movement been talking about this for a long time.

  10. Michael Gfroerer says:

    What if he's wrong? I believe his argument is flawed: surely people can be "prosumers" but just because people can produce doesn't mean that it's anything of quality. Great works of art are an example.

  11. Nirvana7734 says:

    Jeremy Rifkin has a much more recent and expansive discussion in this video here. It is much longer, yes, but if you are interested and have the time I would strongly suggest checking it out.

  12. crazieeez says:

    Near zero marginal cost does not mean capitalism is going to end. It is written in capitalism that every company wants to achieve economy of scale. I don't see how driving the cost of food, transportation, housing, healthcare, apparel, cell phone, entertainment, financial services, and the likes to zero is going to end capitalism … in fact that's the nature of capitalism to make markets competitive enough to have everything near zero marginal cost. Food make up 11% of a consumer total spending in 2016. In the 1700, food make up 70% of a consumer total spending. People spend their entire day working to survive. Today, over 60% of consumer total spending goes to food, transportation, and housing. We have a long way to achieve "near zero marginal" cost to improve the lives of the common. Until total consumer spending on food, transportation, and housing is down to 1%, then I will be impressed with this so called "near zero marginal cost".

    You talk about a specific sector that's easily be disrupted with technology. Sectors like food, transportation, and housing are a bit harder to disrupt with technology.

  13. Paul D says:

    Love intelligent people who have the passion to change the world for the better

  14. Ragamala Rokudan says:

    I find his ideas over-optimistic. Every time when technology advances, it would become controlled by a few elites. Just when Tesla is thinking about free electricity for everyone, electricity becomes a proprietary asset of Edison. When internet first comes out, everyone thinks that it is free, anonymous and there will be free information flow. Look at what has happened, it is now controlled by massive corporations like Facebook and Google. Yes, the marginal cost is near zero, that's why traditional media like newspapers go bankrupt, but it is Facebook that now controls the flow of information. Near-zero transport cost only means that companies like Amazon and Alibaba controls the supply line, and it results in more delivery, more packaging and more carbon footprint. If you think solar panels and wind turbines will give you free energy, the truth is it still needs a mega-network of electric wires to let the energy flows within the network, those who controls the network controls the money. And common people who are consumer, or producer or what he calls prosumer, earns very little in the process.

  15. peter lang says:

    more cold fusion!

  16. Gary A Lindley says:

    What a Bag of gas bull Shit spewing idiot.

  17. Joe Betro says:

    Thank you Jeremy! x

  18. GEZZA1 says:

    news papers arent even good for fire

  19. GEZZA1 says:

    4 years later and what happened??

  20. Julio Alvarez says:

    Go cryptocurrencies!

  21. Erik Hå says:


  22. Dawa Tsering says:

    his words need a vedio

  23. firexgodx980 says:

    How is he defining capitalism? All economic systems are a set of rules. The rules of capitalism are: don't steal or damage other people's private property, and don't break a contract you agree to. It's that simple. All of the spontaneous order that emerges from those rules is a product of those rules. Non-profits are capitalist. Co-ops are capitalist. Open source is capitalist. If it's not owned by the government it's private, and if it's private it's capitalist.

  24. craig says:

    Then SKYNET and Boom.😁

  25. John Hollister says:

    Capitalist countries are the tent poles holding up the rest of the crap countries.
    Mass migrations TO the West, why? Even the poor in the West are rich by comparison.

  26. Y T says:

    If I am sure of one thing, it is that this idiot does not know what the meaning of the word Internet, what it is, nor how it functions.

  27. ninjawarrior981 says:

    As a trucker myself. A self driving truck in a controlled California route is 1 thing. Driving though a snow storm in the Upper peninsula of Michigan is something else. I'll worry about my job when they get driverless trucks in winter in Montana.

  28. Austin Kelly says:

    Key word as long as net neutrality stays the same… well guess what the fucking trump admin took that away. He's doing everything he can to try to form a totalitarian state. HELLFUCKINGO

  29. Needles Iblis says:

    Yeah, no. What's happening is that capitalism has gone Super Saiyan. It has awakened its most powerful form, where everyone can be a producer instead of just a consumer. Everyone can be the CEO. And it is wonderful.

  30. Resq Av8r says:

    APPS created for us and programmed for us serve to Program Us and the "big data" will be the variable inject to create the illusion … "that's already been done"

  31. seth wakeman says:

    This is the stupidest video I've seen from this channel. The internet of things and driverless cars will spell the death of capitalism??
    Even he'd doesn't look like he believes that load of bullshit.

  32. Maximillian Martinet says:

    Gas Bag

  33. Daniel Forrest says:

    I think he was probably a sharp student, but his assessment of the current state of technology is wrong. He has a macroview of technology, but does not understand that the people who think of, design and code the software, and those that research, test, design and build for new technology to support the infrastructure of the planet require hundreds of millions of people. ..

    He is out of touch…

  34. Silver Master says:

    Everyone on board the ship of fools!!! It’s just socialism with a different name. Don’t be a fool.

  35. Albino Viper says:

    it is still capitalism fool. sharing is just the invention of capitalism to reduce cost for the owner not the buyer or user cause like ANY SUCCESSFUL COMPANY you charge what the market will bear and that market are people with money not the people with little money or also known as the working poor and you do that to stay ahead of this thing called inflation.

  36. Frederik Høyrup says:

    Im pretty shure. Hes got the long end of the stick. But hes fails to adress IMPLEMENTATION! A right, toughtfull and just idea. Can be a dystopia. If implemented WRONG! (Just look at the last 2000 years of history).

  37. Clinton E. Cochran says:

    I want to see him, Jordan Peterson, and Ben Shapiro together!

  38. Masaya Shida says:

    The first tiny in my life I heard of a prosumer

  39. Norin Radd says:

    This is four years old, and everything he said has virtually come to pass or is currently underway.

  40. Will Nitschke says:

    Whatever he's smoking he should smoke less of it.

  41. M Simon says:

    The sensors cost money. The energy collectors cost money. Physical stuff costs money. And money is a stand in for energy. Zero marginal costs for aircraft carriers? Really?

  42. MrJonnyCole says:

    Lots of cool stuff here

  43. carbon1479 says:

    I didn't catch where this translates to zero marginal cost. Greatly reduced cost and zero marginal cost aren't the same thing.

  44. ampeyro says:

    When did Big Think become so nutty?

  45. Chris W says:

    There's nothing "wrong" with capitalism intrinsically. The "wrong" can be found with the humans. If we turned the dial up on compassion and empathy across the board, we could be the most free market society in the universe and we wouldn't have the sorts of issues we have today. So, humans are rotten, and a system that allows for exploitation if people are willing to exploit, will appear rotten. Capitalism on it's own is a great tool for progress, but with the current state of human psychology, we are not ready for truly free markets. We need regulation and enforced empathy for those crushed under those who seek the prime drivers: Money and Power. Currently, psychopaths write the rules. The concept of democracy hoped to fix that, but psychopaths will thirst for power until they can control a system meant to balance them.

  46. John Stewart says:

    Is there really zero marginal cost? I understand there is still a debate about whether the Kindle saves any natural resources compared to the book.

  47. Luis Riesco says:

    I am sure of one thing, Capitalism as freedom of people to live, act, buy things and sell things, that wont fall, that freedom will be stronger than ever becouse its the essential mean to achieve the things that makes us happy

  48. Yusen Ye says:

    Holy shit this dude is right

  49. Zinc Chameleon says:

    The next big wave: free medical diagnoses; then open-source automated medical procedures. Who needs titanium scalpels when you can create ceramic scalpels with nearly zero marginal cost on a 3d printer?

  50. T Lieb says:

    Annnnd net neutrality gone, bye internet of things for everyone

  51. Dio Brando says:

    My family had this guy over for dinner once, really nice, smart dude.

  52. od077 says:

    " post-capitalism instead of the fall of capitalism."

  53. No Hope Equals no fear says:

    Msm deserves to die

  54. No Hope Equals no fear says:

    Well, did the senors pick up this….
    CNN spews propaganda. I cancled my cable TV because of it.
    15 million have cancled their cable tv. The globalists dont care. We are all mice to them.

  55. Detlef Kroll says:

    Why can I see from his nose, that this person is wrong? It's a person who thinks and argues in completely irrelevant categories.

  56. Jon Dana says:

    Yeah, and almost everyone will make almost no money from it. More smug and intentionally obtuse BS from those who brought us the rosey predictions that have fed the destruction of the economic benefits for the former "working class". Speaking as a lifelong pro musician, the "give your music – or somebody else's without their permission, F 'em – away for free" model did NOT lead to more work, more income, a larger potential market, or any of that rosey horses–t. It has led to the near-collapse of the ability to make even the marginal living that so many did when local venues were ubiquitous, non-machine-produced-mass-garbage "music" hawked by mega-corps didn't depress the market for everyone and everything else, and a fairly large base of true appreciators of true innovative creation heartily supported those who could prove themselves to be producing actual original content, as opposed to recycled-again-for-the-billionth-time formulaic noise – an exact paralell to what has happened at the movies, where a fourth remake ("reboot' just sounds so much more hip and not-bulshitty, doesn't it?) of every classic originally created by an actual talented artist has replaced the urge and need to actually create with thought and integrity. Quality goes down – eventually way down, price goes up, and fewer and fewer talented and motivated people can actually make it work, without having to abandon their hopes, to work at WalMart instead for the sake of survival. But – HEY! – the pro-capitalist BS'ers like Jeremy Rifkin clean up, raking in all the priofit as non-contributing middlemen who don't actually create anything of value. Great system!! Know who used to oppose this heap of BS? Conservatives.

  57. Chris G says:

    So we're becoming the Borg. Ok, let's do this.

  58. Erykah Sundance says:

    Resource Based Economy – Venus Project – Zeitgeist Movement

  59. Kram says:

    He ignores the Internet of money.

  60. Thoughtsurfer Zone says:

    If we can ever devise a molecular nano factory, that would change everything. That would replace "made in China" with "made in your kitchen".

  61. MegzeeR says:

    So is it me or am I noticing that in every projection that I'm hearing about the future just eliminates the main concerns we have about where we are heading? This is the 4th "genius expert" of math, economics and technologies that I've listened to today and every single projection seems to be lacking a huge portion that is probably the biggest element that we're concerned with……US! They almost become orgasmic at the beauty of technology getting so advanced that they already far surpass anything a mere human can even dream of achieving (except for those few exceptions like Elon Musk???) and they'll do it faster, and cheaper and better and the more it advances the more perfect and faster and better and cheaper they'll get. This will totally change the paradigm of life as we know it. Oh and people can play with it too, I guess. I mean….WTF???? People aren't even in this future they see. So, exactly why would we be so excited about it when we're basically being sidelined as an obsolete clunker without purpose who is nothing but an ending statement that we can go color or something.

  62. Christoffer Allan Zacarias says:

    Capitalism has evolved into an economic system that produces so much goods and services that the price of the is nearly zero on the demand line, because of the internet of things. This sounds like a super efficient market system in which information is rapidly exchanged, because of the internet of things, in order to meet the correct equilibrium for buyers and sellers, increasing supply to near zero.

  63. Dave Martinez says:

    csu ercw led me here…. anyone else?

  64. HKZ P says:

    The fall of capitalism? Really? That's the title? The death of large corporations with patents and copyrights, maybe. Capitalism is the only way forward, because the economy can't be controlled by bottleneckers or governments anymore. My wife is a huge fan of so many of these weird cover artists who make a living off singing on the internet. They would never be famous in traditional media. So, instead of having a few mainstream superstars, we have millions of small stars making a living off of their art. My daughter loves a channel called 'Kaycee and Rachel in Wonderland' which is just a pair of Filipino kids doing Disney princess makeovers. They make a good living off of that! I didn't hear this guy make any real points for the death of capitalism, only the death of capitalism as he knows it.

  65. Jamieson Pauls says:

    Skynet is real!

  66. Dogen70 says:

    he took a bit of Toffler with the prosumer

  67. Jim Moroney says:

    Rifkin has been wrong for decades so nothing new here. Four years after this is published, renewable energy is still decades away. His definition of marginal cost is inaccurate. MC is the cost of producing the next unit, not the cost of the next unit after fixed costs are covered. In the long run, most or all costs are variable as more plant and equipment are needed as production expands. Most ebooks and cell phone usage have significant marginal costs to the consumer. Rifkin needs to re-read the old Micro-economics textbook.

    If the internet of things replaces capitalism, what will capitalism be replaced with? Socialism? I'm assuming that must be socialism since Rifkin is a socialist. Just imagine! All of society's great technological innovations will be produced by a one-world socialist, soviet-style government bureaucracy. I can hardly wait! BTW, anyone visit Venezuela lately?

  68. Kelly KitKat says:

    Workers-Managers-Owners…. get rid of profits, equating price with cost, means you get rid of profits, and the ability to accumulate property…. basically, they desire to get rid of owners…. the new economy is like other totalitarian economies the world has seen… workers-managers paradigm means that a police state will emerge to keep the workers in line, while the managers set themselves up as a ruling class…because with no owners, where will political pressure, the ability to govern, come from, but the gun , threat of force ? …hitler, stalin, cesar of rome, the pharoah of egypt…. and they will claim that genetic heritage – "we egyptians are the true jews" – should determine who gets what, since some are born with ruler-intelligence genes. … this guy is most likely a ZIANist…. because he is advocating a zero profit economy. The internet of things, is about setting up their government-rule , sector by sector. "Sorry fellow traveller, but you have used up your daily allottment up toast – all toasters are offline, inaccessable, to you … also, new milk is on the way – hope you like strawberry" … The "war on terror" is about making certain that people not be able to rebel against the new world order. It is a giant prison – warden complex. See what China is doing with their social credit system, because that is what 5g is about. See the big picture first, and these details he is talking about, make sense, are easy to predict. Trust the computer… if they can get people to do that… then they can kill their enemies easily…. how easy to frame anybody who keeps a cloud account? Or to emulate their voice, appearance, with ones and zeros?

  69. Kelly KitKat says:

    Logistics and transportation network…. traditional internet….. energy internet….. 3 and 1 …. energy, communications, and transport….. see movie, Minority Report…. but people will yet yearn after the spiritual…. "lots of love, in this house", the oracle tells him. … the convergence… ETSY ? … A gentler, kinder, emasculated nation… save for the ufc cops to keep everybody else in line. Managers need protection… planet of the apes …

  70. Sidtube10 says:

    Technology is just a neutral tool and it can and does get used for both the good and the bad reasons! So, without a strong means to prevent/minimize abuse and guarantee human necessities, this system too will fall flat on its face, IMO.

  71. Ricky Nolan Browne says:


  72. Zorka Kelly says:

    it seems robots will replace humans…population will reduced because elite will not need no more cheap working class… the elite will be the most capable and the best educated..,,and they will populate on another planets in cosmos….no more SCIENCE FICTION….NEW reality just started…

  73. craig owensby says:

    Add in AI Robotics infrastructure capable of doing all production, eliminating human labor needs, and you get to the end game: Everything becomes a “freemium”. Food, housing, clothing, household goods, transportation, will have virtually no cost aside from raw materials. If the AI figures out how to make virtually everything from silicon, which is virtually unlimited, we will have a world in which each person can live without working at a surprisingly high level of well being.

    The only remaining question will be how we differentiate between individuals in order to create motivation to do or even try to do anything that adds to well being, which might range from voting in constant mass decision making, to creating works of art, music, literature, etc. But fundamentally, humans will no longer be a real source of productive labor, so any income disparity would necessarily be quite small. However, we will play a critical economic role through consumption, and that means everyone will have a quite generous basic income to drive innovation that serves human well being as provided by the AI Robotic infrasructures.

    It is clear that this resembles socialism, but rather than being forced, it is inevitable. Early in, large capitalists will reject this approach, but quickly, the AI will so transform life, that the accumulated wealth of the 1% will cease to play a role. After all, if resources are unlimited sand, energy is unlimited solar and wind and biomass waste, if robots farm the land for food and manufacture healthy and delicious meals or materials for human cooking, if transportation is free using electricity from the renewable energy grid managed by the AI, if housing is built and maintained by the AI and hotels similarly, allowing unlimited travel, if entertainment is produced both by the AI and we humans for fun, or maybe to earn a little extra money, what value will capital have? And if capital has no value, it can only be spent, so while early on, the plutocrats might be able to own more, ultimately their wealth will get spent while the continue to receive a basic income as any other person will. Thus, technology brings about democratic socialism that ensures the well being of all humans. Life will be massively extended as AI solves most human health issues, which will then lead to the one great problem: Space to live in. Musk is thus correct that as this vision evolves, we will need to expand so that we can continue to have children even as we live much longer.

    This will start within 20 years and quickly evolve over the following 200 years until we are a multi-planet race and expanding.

    The big question is “what next?” I think Musk is right: Integration of AI and humans such that we reclaim a participating role in our world. But that is because humans, especially those in power, love and need control. The result of this, I fear, will be failure, war, destruction.

  74. Roger Wine says:

    I've just become aware of Rifkin and haven't had a chance to read him yet, I've just read his bio and watched a few videos. The first thing I notice is that he seems to address economics exclusively, as if political power structures don't even exist. Capitalism is a political-economy, not just an economy. As capitalism develops through its later stages this is more and more true, as Sheldon Wolin aptly pointed out. Corporations are becoming more political; "Citizens United" is an obvious example. A relatively small group of people and groups are expoiting capitalism to increase their power and wealth (see Philips' "Giants: The Global Elite"). Does Rifkin think these political-economic Giants are simply going to to away? Does he think that they won't seek ways to exploit the new economic avenues? In fact, we're already seeing this exploitation with the end of net neutrality, and it seems likely to get much worse before it (hopefully) gets better. What is the basis of Rifkin's apparently boundless optimism?

  75. lee lewis says:

    Haha thanks for the freemium guys!

  76. Niven42 says:

    We're getting close to post-scarcity already. All it needs is a little fine tuning.

  77. richard ouvrier says:

    The Big Think sounds like crap.

  78. Celestial Teapot says:

    This assumes anyone will actually still be around after the planet has become uninhabitable in the very near future. I thought this was supposed to be about thinking?

  79. Timothy Beebe says:

    3D printers Maker Bots and Laser cutters and etc here are really revolutionizing the world. It feels more inevitable in some ways then forced through ideology.

  80. Rahul Verma says:

    Dr. Kanhaiya Kumar brought me here.

  81. abcd efgh says:


  82. Swami Netero says:

    in grundrisse, karl marx talked about whatd happen if commoditys reached a production cost of 0. itd literally collapse capitalism. he didnt say itd be guaranteed to happen, but that if it did then the system literally couldnt sustain itself anymore

  83. Barrie Wright says:

    So these three engines, this is my take on this conversation, will serve the individual and his or her needs instead of the corporate world, and the overall economy or is it serves both equal , is that what he's saying ? , in the near future, THAT'S POWER DEMOCRATISED to the people ! .

  84. sprinx elminster says:

    So what happens by making these huge companies that do shady shit try harder or dissolve them? isn't this actually good for business an striving to be different or do things that genuinely matter like research/science? Won't AI driving an drones help save lives? Shouldn't we worry more about being human or figuring out what really matters to us? lets evolve people, you don't have to consume trash/media to live and be happy… ffs

  85. Carlos Marks says:

    What I hear is Marxism without the unnecessary "Marxist political party" nonsense…. though the speaker might deny that, this is indeed my idea

  86. MrSpiritchild says:

    Oh, I see what you are doing… You are trying to create a self fulfilling prophesy geared at convincing us the sane have already lost, nice trick!!

  87. Carlos Martinez says:

    He predicted the name of marvels last movie 'end game' :V

  88. BLUEGENE13 says:

    i'm not sure i buy it, perhaps in like 100 years

  89. BLUEGENE13 says:

    this is totally naive, jaron lanier taking the other side of this totally disproves this.

    I don't need big data, so i can make apps at zero marginal cost, dafuk is this guy talking about

  90. Stéphane Payrard says:

    “If it keeps its network neutrality”. Big caveat. Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook are anything but neutral.

  91. sundiii99OWS says:

    There never should have been any unequal wealth! Now reread history, especially child slavery in America during the first half of the 20th century!

  92. sundiii99OWS says:

    He’s right, everything will soon be free! The way it should be, and always should have been! When there is equal wealth then everything will be free! That will destroy capitalism!

  93. Stock Broken says:

    Interesting observation and assumption. I would take it a step further by saying zero-marginal cost has always been a function of production since the beginning of time. As we’ve moved on in our needs to more and more complicated desires, so has our demand for such things, and the drive to do it will always be a factor in how we choose to want MORE. The marginal cost will reset once again, but it is unfortunate we don’t feel that way currently because we’ve been in an imagination spiral.
    All thang we have now have been pretty stagnant in their disruption only getting more enhanced in their features and lines of distribution to the consumer, but as we hit an extraordinary recession and the interest rates climb back up to accommodate the over zealous spending and risk, we will see the fire burning once again.

    This is not to depict the replacement of mankind with any permanency. It is simply that our next set of roles have yet to be reimagined, but I can bet you it will be hard, it will require your efforts and sweat but it will be ever rewarding after some time.

    By using the old instruments and machines present, we will build into their capacity to create new things with more complication, greater utility and a reactivated desire.

    Man would once move stones one by one and to only the degree he could carry.
    It cost him his time and his effort with very little return in the span of his lifetime.
    So, he created ropes, pulleys and slings, then carts and wheel, then better carts, then animal powered cars made from steel and ultimately trucks and large machines. As we demand to live in homes more fortified and more cost effective to what one can most feasible earn, we will find ways to move earth at an instant, refine it in the most economized manner and distributed with rapid ease. Can you even imagine what more may come; what must be created to unify these moving parts to have something created so quickly? … each and every step along the processes in our future will come with great costs leading up to their making before being more and more marginally efficient towards zero.

    As the dreams get bigger, the costs have a tendency to reset almost proportionately, and the standard we set on our lifestyle drastically improves over and over. I reckon this would continue to happen so long as man doesn’t have the ability to live forever. It is our lifespan that drives such urgency, and even then, it is our boredom that wills us to create more.

    I cannot simply walk outside of my home and fly to work. Where’s that invention? What will it cost to get here? What other developments must take place first before the correct order of pieces meet with construction to this demand I have? …there is no permanent achievement to zero so long as man is still man. Information is just the first step.

    How quickly can you learn and understand information? What does it cost you to digest it? How will we improve on this?

    Capitalism and he fundamentals of economics will always be the same so long as we are human. I predict no drastic changes to how the system ‘should’ work because naturally, we will continue to make decisions governed by our evolution, and feel only what we can humanly feel. This is exactly where the rudiments of capitalism comes from, and though we may alter course form it for some time, it will always come back with purity for the new nations of somewhere.

  94. Clem Yoakal says:

    I call bullshit.

  95. Astri Roger says:

    Analyze this yoyo's face, and you'll see an Alzheimer’s case in process.

  96. sundiii99OWS says:

    America misused all technologies, like putting computers in cars and traffic lights. We should have built only Tower cities connected to maglev Trains to SAVE LIVES! And all the weapons and military junk to start wars to get oil and gas for cars that never should have existed, but now have computers.

  97. venture bullettrain321 says:

    once all manufacturing, shipping, stocking, cooking, cleaning and energy production roles, and even sales can be fully automated at lower cost, what will we be doing for work? its not even a question of if, just a question of when

  98. venture bullettrain321 says:

    WHEN that day comes when every mine, every power plant, every store, every restaurant, every construction site, every business involving human hands is cheaper to do with robots than with humans…. what we gon do

  99. venture bullettrain321 says:

    become WALL-E society? maybe cyborgs? 🤣🤣

  100. MaruAdventurer says:

    Rifkins lede that marginal cost is the secret sauce of capitalism, though factual, does not disappear as he portends it to be. Marginal Cost still exists, but it down shifts due to IoT but does not disappear.

    Example. You can print an object on your own 3D printer and take 10 hours to do so or you can send the build file to the 3D print shop in town and have it in 1 hour on their high speed FDM printer. There is a marginal cost, labor and time differential, that still exists. The difference is in this example is probably a couple of dollars whereas if this were a mass consumption product the company would be looking in the realm of millions of dollars.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *