In The Zero Marginal Cost Society, New York Times bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin argues that the capitalist era is passing—not quickly, but inevitably. The emerging Internet of Things is giving rise to a new economic system that will transform our way of life.
In this provocative new book, Rifkin argues that the coming together of the Communication Internet with the fledgling Energy Internet and Logistics Internet in a seamless twenty-first-century intelligent infrastructure—the Internet of Things—is boosting productivity to the point where the marginal cost of producing many goods and services is nearly zero, making them essentially free. The result is that corporate profits are beginning to dry up, property rights are weakening, and the conventional mind-set of scarcity is slowly giving way to the possibility of abundance. The zero marginal cost phenomenon is spawning a hybrid economy—part capitalist market and part “collaborative commons”—with far-reaching implications for society.
Rifkin describes how hundreds of millions of people are already transferring parts of their economic lives from capitalist markets to what he calls the global Collaborative Commons. “Prosumers” are making and sharing their own information, entertainment, green energy, and 3-D printed products at near zero marginal cost. They are also sharing cars, homes, clothes, and other items via social media sites, redistribution clubs, and cooperatives at low or near zero marginal cost. Students are even enrolling in free MOOCs, massive open online courses that operate at near zero marginal cost. And young social entrepreneurs are establishing ecologically sensitive businesses using crowd funding as well as creating alternative currencies in the new sharing economy. In this new world, social capital is as important as financial capital, access trumps ownership, cooperation supersedes competition, and “exchange value” in the capitalist marketplace is increasingly replaced by “sharable value” on the Collaborative Commons.
Rifkin concludes that while capitalism will be with us for the foreseeable future, albeit in an increasingly diminished role, it will not be the dominant economic paradigm by the second half of the twenty-first century. We are, Rifkin says, entering a world beyond markets, where we are learning how to live together in an increasingly interdependent global Collaborative Commons.
©2014 Jeremy Rifkin (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
.. but is it realistic? I kept wondering. It somehow appears too neat to be true and leaves aside so ongoing threat that the technological shift is just taken over and used by financial interests.
The book was an eye opener; a thoroughly researched summary of the state of the world and where things are going. But the narration was average at best.
TIR (third industrial revolution) is how Rifkin refers to the emerging collaborative economy. In this economy, thanks to 3D printing, solar and wind power, and the internet , he anticipates and unbundling of capitalist structures towards more collaborative regimes .
Rifkin weaves together myriad strands of history into an integral vision and pathway toward a wonderful future!
I enjoyed listening to this book. Rifkin lays out a key trend that is evolving. He does however, push this "zero marginal" cost a little too much. By this I mean he infrequently reminds the reader of the high fixed costs required to operate at close to zero marginal cost.
The author drones on about the utopian society of the future which is quite pie in the sky.
The info is good in the sense that it is seen through the eyes of the facebook generation where no privacy is afforded nor expected. Better classified as a sifi
Novel rather than facts quite amusing
In the beginning, the book tries to make the argument that capitalism will disappear as profit margins shrink due to technology increasing productivity. The author is too narrow minded and self-confident. By 15 min into the audio book, the author's assertions were full of holes. At 20 min, I decided to call it.
Interesting insights into the changes that are taking place because of communicatons and manufacturing breakthroughs. He forgets that social forces will delay and or derail many of the new initiatives, but I cannot be sure which. Of concern is his nearly total disregard for the problems of massive failure of the system due to errors and/or attack. He does give about a paragraph's lip service to this issue in the last chapter. A kind of, "by the way if this happens 80% of the population could die." Systems need to be more robust if we are to live in the future world. Unfortunately, they are not now and w are all at risk.
The author does not distinguish between socialism and the zero marginal cost Society. furthermore he does not describe how we're going to get from our current capitalist state to this magical Realm of the zero marginal cost Society.
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