(noun, etymology Dutch from ‘boedel’: estate, possession, inheritance, stock.). 1. Crowd, pack, lot, as in ‘the whole boodle.’ 2. a. Counterfeit money b. Money acquired or spent illegally or improperly, particularly when used in bribery for political purposes. 3. Slang for money in general.

Driving the Moneyless Economy

Posted on: Nov. 1, 2011  |  By: Ronnie Kahn  |  Category: Boodle-cise, General

The other night, I was out with my son in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles.  He was also going out of town that evening so we had to arrange a rendezvous with his friends who he was going to be driving with.  I thought to myself that in my day, we did not have the luxury of cell phones and GPS devices to help direct us to a meeting place.  We pretty much just said meet me at this spot at this time and hoped for the best.  However, while technology is supposed to make things easier, I wonder if the effects on us increase our abilities in one area while minimizing them in others?  In my son’s case, he coordinated with his friends for them to drive down Highland Avenue which is a long boulevard that we would be driving up at the same time.  Then we would touch base again somewhere in the middle.  We finally chose an easy-in, easy-out parking lot of a well-known restaurant as our meeting point.  My son called his friends and asked where there were.  He told them they were only a couple of blocks from us and he told them we would be at Mel’s Drive-In Diner.   He directed them to just keep driving a couple of more signals up.  Well, did these techno-packing travelers even listen to a word my son said?  Well, yes they did.  They heard the Mel’s Diner part but never listened to the directional part.  They took their phone GPS out and instantly programed in Mel’s Diner only they put in the Mel’s in West Hollywood and we were in regular Hollywood.  They proceeded to drive to the wrong Mel’s.  At this point, we decided to not trust them one more time and told them to stay put and we would meet them there.  From being less than a quarter of a mile away, they had rerouted themselves two miles out of the way.  Even worse, they were now no longer near a freeway onramp to start them on their journey.

Obviously one of the lessons here is technology cannot be a substitute for listening skills.  Also, most of these kids have never bothered to learn the streets of their own city nor even which direction they are going toward.  Technology should either be an improvement over the way a person would perform an operation or should be able to take the burden away from a person by performing that operation.  It can be said that there is no great loss if someone cannot know east from west or how to read the hands of a clock.  On the other hand, learning certain skills can spill over into other areas of mastery.  Supposedly, Google already has a car that uses technology and sensors to drive a car.  If I had a car like this, this would have been an easy solution to the problem connecting with my son’s friends.  All we would have had to do would be to have the two machines communicate and find a safe meeting place when the two cars came together.  When this is perfected, this car or truck will be a case of technology improving on a person’s skills.  This is not only because the machine can perform better at the task but also because  a machine, unlike us, will not be distracted, fall asleep at the wheel, drive while intoxicated, and especially as it relates to my son’s friends, drive while texting (in fairness, I do not know for a fact that they do so).

If you are concerned with the levels of unemployment now, imagine how the economy will be affected when machines can drive our cars and trucks and the jobs lost by those who drive for a living such as shipping company drivers like Fed-Ex or UPS, bus drivers, taxi drivers, chauffeurs, truck drivers and so on.  Perhaps you can have no problem imagining the economy replacing those millions of jobs with other new jobs but think too that this may not be the only new technology to replace jobs.  If you multiply this by other advances in technology that is happening each year, more and more of our jobs will need to be replaced.  Yes, technology does create jobs too in the sense that there are persons needed to supervise, run, and maintain the machines.  Also, these jobs can be very high paying as well.  However, part of the problem with the economy now is not just unemployment but an income disparity between rich and poor. Since fewer higher paying jobs will only create more wealth, this would only exacerbate that disparity of income.

There is a book called Race Against the Machine (RATM): How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee which talks about the effects technology is having on employment.  Technology was originally projected to have saved persons vast amounts of time.  This, of course, never came to fruition as most of us still work many hours, although probably with more leisure time than ever before, but more to the point, is the amount of time used on our machines in the forms of internet time, phone time, and so on.  In other words, the tasks at work and home replaced by machines were just taken over by new tasks needed to be done.  Whenever long-term predictions are made, they are usually way off base.  Think about the massive food shortages and population explosions predicted by the book Future Shock.  However, cases where technology is replacing ten jobs with one still happen all the time.  This is why manufacturing jobs have disappeared from many countries including but not limited to the U.S.

I heard a radio program the other day that had one of the authors of RATM discussing these projected changes due to technological advancements  (http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp111026should_we_blame_tech?searchterm=race+against+the+machine).  One of the guests commented that if improvements keep continuing at their current pace, robots could do the jobs of anything humans can do now and not just manufacturing, but such things as lawyers and teachers.  The radio guest said that what needs to be “cracked” is the vision problem of computers and machines.  With this solved, even retail jobs, such as food servers and other service economy workers, would be fair game and likely to be eliminated.

If this were to come to pass, again with the futurist caveat of projection, we would not just be at high unemployment we would be at a tipping point of needing human beings to offer their skills and talents in order to produce something where they, in turn, are paid money in order to feed themselves and so on.  This translates to that there would be no “drive” to drive our economy.  We would have to give up the concept of earning money.  The guest put it that either everyone would be broke or we would need a new system where everyone would be on permanent vacation.

How much reward do we all achieve by doing things, improving skills, and completing a job well done?  If you remove this from the economic equation, what are we left with?  Would we all just play and pretend to do work like gardening or would life function like a hobby?  While there are plenty of jobs that lean toward math and science and internet technology, many students are avoiding these fields in the U.S.  If that is where the money is, that means that our decisions are not being made in self-interest.   What would happen to our decision making if you took away the need to earn a living?  Could we shift into some other realm of meaning and relevancy?  Would our personal assistant machine tell us that we shouldn’t worry about those things and, if we would like, they can give us a pill that will make us feel better?

So in the future, money may be no more.  If money doesn’t exist, I am sure there will always be a few rebels who will try and drive themselves to the human interaction center.  I am convinced there will always be an underground economy though.  In fact, I heard the robots are hiring.

 

Exercise:  What would money be replaced by?

Hypothetically, do you have a vision of a system that can stimulate human connection, allow for individuals to attain some type of skills or mastery, and maintain how to fit into the planets resources while allowing for decisions and choices that wouldn’t take us to the dark side?

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