Money is ubiquitous and most used object in the world. People use it for many different reasons. From evaluating their economic condition to exchanging it for goods and services and to store wealth. What if I suggested that money will disappear one day and I don’t mean just paper money but the concept of it. We will no longer need it to survive. You may be thinking that day will never come or I am Trekkie and have watched too many episodes of StarTrek or perhaps I am delusional. I am neither and I truly think that the day when humans will not need money is nearer than any of us think let me explain…
The most common use of money is to buy goods and services. We go to Star Bucks and buy a cup of coffee or go to grocery store and buy bread etc etc. We use money to survive in this world. It provides us means to shelter ourselves, feed and cloth us. All of these products that we consume have cost associated with it “actual cost”. This cost includes raw material, transportation (needs energy), manufacturing, labor, storage, distribution, marketing and transactional cost. As consumers we pay for all of these costs. Products from its inception to its consumption keeps adding costs to it. Finally when we buy it we end up shouldering all of these costs. We all have heard that bottle of channel perfume cost only $5~$10 and infamous NIKE shoe’s actual cost is only $10. Yet when we go to malls we can easily drop $400 and $200 respectively to buy these products. Question is why do we pay exorbitantly high prices for things?
Tesla Motors just announced model 3 their newest 35K all electric car. In the launch speech Elon Musk also talked about his battery manufacturing plant in Nevada that will produce nickel metal hydride batteries. The total number of batteries produced in this plant alone will match the batteries produced in the entire world. Imagine that one factory producing equal number of batteries that whole world produces. One can easily infer that the cost of these batteries will definitely be less than what is cost now to produce in different parts of the world. Needless to mention producing product that is closer to its consumers will save on logistical costs. These innovations are simply driving the marginal cost of production down and if this trend continues fairly soon we will get to a point of saturation where companies will have to give products away or come up with alternate ways of enticing consumers to use them.
NASA use to transport parts they needed for the space station for break fix projects. This would delay the addition, repair and maintenance of many tasks that were time critical. They will send in a requisition for the part from the space, part would be made on planet earth once it was made they will them transport it to Florida and wait for the next space mission to send it off to space. About 5 years ago NASA took several 3D printer to space station and started printing parts they need at the station on demand. They saved time and money. 3D printers are revolutionizing they way we produce products. A company in China printed 10 homes in one day and it cost $5,000.00 each. These were not toy homes but actual livable 2200 square feet homes. Soon a 3D printer will be part of every household as inkjet or laserjet printers are. The 3d printer will help us print many different things that we use in our house. It will allow us to print cloths, shoes, jewelry, spare parts for automobiles and even food. Again I do not have to tell you that printing your own stuff will be lot less than buying things from the store.
Hydroponics farms are changing the way we have been farming. These farms are so efficient that they do not need any pesticides since it is controlled environment and one tenth water than conventional farms do. Even better they don’t require land since you can grow vegetables vertically with artificial LED lights. If we dedicate three buildings in Manhattan and convert them in to hydroponic farms. These buildings will produce enough food to feed the population of Manhattan. Since the produce will be farmed in the city you can calculated the savings.
We are living in phenomenal times. Our population growth and advancement in technology has allowed us to accomplish things that were unfathomable a decade ago. This growth in human intelligence and new discoveries in variety of different disciplines is allowing to produce goods and service at a very low price. We have renewable sources of energy where one day our energy cost will be close to zero or zero. Think of robotics if we have a hydroponic farm and have robots working using solar energy and recycled water the cost of the food they produce (after the initial cost) will be close to zero. This trend will not stop at farming we will have robots performing surgeries, mow our lawns, do our laundry and I can go on and on.
Often when I talk to people about this idea they argue that we will not have any motivation to do anything if machines will do all the work. I strongly disagree we don’t always do things to make money. People innovated because they are passionate about what they do. Folks who work for money just do that and are neither innovator nor thinkers. They seldom make a difference even in our current economic system. This wave of technology and innovation is so big that we just cannot wrap our heads around it from self driving cars to drones delivering packages the innovations will revolutionize how we live and function. Ultimately if we get to a point where machines do all the work than humans will have to just sit back innovate explore and enjoy their lives without spending a penny.