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Publisher's Summary

What would the world look like if everybody had everything they wanted or needed? Trekonomics, the premier book in financial journalist Felix Salmon's imprint PiperText, approaches scarcity economics by coming at it backward - through thinking about a universe where scarcity does not exist. Delving deep into the details and intricacies of 24th-century society, Trekonomics explores post-scarcity and whether we, as humans, are equipped for it. What are the prospects of automation and artificial intelligence? Is there really no money in Star Trek? Is Trekonomics at all possible?

©2016 Manu Saadia (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Manu Saadia has managed to show us one more reason, perhaps the most compelling one of all, why we all need the world of Star Trek to one day become the world we live in." (Chris Black, writer and coexecutive producer, Star Trek: Enterprise)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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An Amusing & Practical Analysis of Fictional Ideas

What does Oliver Wyman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Oliver Wyman reads this dissertation as if it was his own. Breathing life into non-fictional works can be challenging, even with help from the author’s writing style and/or subject matter. Oliver makes listening to rather bizarre and abstract ideas of Star Trek and economic theory (at least to those uninitiated) enjoyable. Well done.

Any additional comments?

I‘m mainly writing this review in reaction to a peculiar bevy of negative assessments on Amazon and Audible. Much of this book is presented with a literary “wink” from the author. I mean, it’s a deconstruction of a fictional economy from a beloved science fiction franchise, that culminates in addressing whether such an imaginary system of wealth could be realized in reality. On those merits, it delightfully excels. If you enjoy Star Trek, there are a variety of things in this book for you.

29 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Should be Mandatory reading for everyone.

It is rare that I make it a point to spread the word of a book.
In this case, it should be necessary for anyone wanting to be a politician to read this, for if we don't make changes, our current economy will be our downfall. And this book shows us how to avoid it. I cannot recommend this book enough.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Shallow on examining trek universe economics

Interesting as a trek fan, but little deep dive into its economic. More of a social commentary and history of star trek than a conjecture of how the universe would function post scarcity.

23 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Trekonomics

Interesting look at the utopia of Star Trek. What is a world where money is unnecessary and there is no need to work. What Star Trek misses is the human condition of pride envy hate and love an the outcome of greed jealousy and mental conditions that bring about the evil that makes mass murder and enslavement possible. Can you really talk these things out of existence. The hope in Star Trek is its selling point.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Makes the future feel hopeful

I felt like the concepts of ppl changing themselves and allowing all else to fall in line an because it would be natural a real drive to want to start my personal change right away. Loved the read.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A lively discussion of the economics of Trek

We don't ordinarily think much about the economics of Star Trek when watching an episode or a movie, but when we step back from the stories themselves, it's a pretty interesting question. How does the Federation's economy work? Although there are references to a currency called simply "credits" scattered through The Original Series, that's later retconned to "just a figure of speech." As explicitly stated in Next Generation and Deep Space 9, the Federation operates without money.

How does that work? Can it work?

Saadia says yes, it can work.

The Federation is a post-scarcity environment. They have more than enough food, shelter, clothing, and what in our time are "luxury goods" to go around, and no need to manage their distribution by means of money. This is true in the time of TOS, but even more true by the time of Next Generation, with its replicators able to produce as many of anything at all as may be wanted, as long as the raw matter exists.

There's no need for anyone to be short of anything, whether they work or not.

Yet everywhere we look in the Federation, we see people working hard at a variety of professions and occupations. Mainly, of course, we see Starfleet officers and crew, but also diplomats, scientists, scholars, and artists. We also see dilithium miners, entertainers, and Picard's family of vintners. There are lawyers and craftspeople and the pleasure workers of the pleasure planet of Risa. Sisko's family runs a famous, popular restaurant in New Orleans.

Why are all these people working, when they don't need to?

Not for money, but for reputation, for status, because they enjoy it, and to make life better. Freed of the necessity to struggle for the basics of survival, humans, as well as other intelligent, social species in the Federation, compete for status and the approval of their peers.

Saadia also looks at the problems. Other cultures don't necessarily adopt the same money-free socio-economic system. The Klingons do use money but clearly place a higher value on honor and reputation; this may be why an alliance between the Federation and the Klingon Empire was eventually possible. We don't really know what the Romulans do.

The Ferengi are full-on rapacious capitalists of the most extreme kind.

There are also still luxury goods, though of a different kind--experiential goods, like Risa, or the Sisko restaurant in New Orleans, or Picard wines. Any replicator can provide wine; only the Picard vinyards can produce, say, the 2340 vintage of Picard wines, and only so many bottles of that. Next year's vintage will be different, in ways that can't be fully predicted in advance. Only so many people can be seated and served in the Sisko restaurant on any particular evening. A less obvious point: Only so many people can work at Sisko's for the experience of making and serving fine food.

In Saadia's discussion of all this, he shows a breadth and depth of knowledge of both economics and science fiction. I was impressed that in discussion the antecedents of Star Trek's post-scarcity economy and the replicator, he mentions not only more well-known writers and works, but also George O. Smith's "matter duplicator" from the Venus Equilateral stories. A discussion of Mr. Data and the uneasy status of artificial intelligence in the Federation includes not just Asimov's sunny early view of robots and the rise of automation, but his later, darkening views on the subject, that robots and artificial intelligence could make humans too safe and comfortable, leading to the stories that eliminate robots from the future of his future history.

The Federation is a near-utopia, and Saadia makes a reasonable case that we can get there--even without the replicator--and indeed that we are already on our way. He also notes, though, that the transition from one type of economy to another is never easy; it is generally brutally hard on a large proportion of the population. We are already producing more and more goods and services with fewer and fewer people. There is less work for people to do--and so, in the midst of plenty, in the richest society on Earth, we have people unable to afford even the basics, because there is simply not enough work available for them to earn those basics.

This is a lively and fascinating discussion, touching on things I've worried about myself, as well as the considerable potential upside if we make this transition successfully.

Highly recommended.

I bought this audiobook.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A good little time

Trekkies and non Star Trek fans alike will have fun with this, so go ahead!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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a must for any trekkie

if you have watched star trek and wished you could live in such a universe, read this

7 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 04-21-17

Crypto currency / Bitcoin

Any additional comments?

In terms of the discussion about money and national sovereignty/identity, the author may not be cognizant of recent developments in Bitcoin and more generally, blockchain-based value exchange mechanisms. There is no need for the "Federation" to back a currency. Even now, individuals can buy and sell items with Bitcoin - there is no government authority backing it. (In fact, governments will become increasing opposed as it will make for financial transactions that can't be tracked for tax purposes). But individuals choosing to trust that mechanism can use it. Probably more securely than many national currencies today (Venezuela comes to mind). Crypto currencies are beholden to their users only. National currencies are beholden to the power elites that run governments. To learn more about this listen to another excellent audible book called The Dictator's Handbook. http://www.audible.com/pd/Nonfiction/The-Dictators-Handbook-Audiobook/B007KSIDMC/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1492783455&sr=1-1

17 of 30 people found this review helpful

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Perceivable

in this book, we are brought into the great world of trek with keeping our feet on the ground, while realizing this could be a perceived reality.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • EJ
  • 08-22-17

Interesting concept but not as good as anticipated

Author spent less time talking about actual episodes of Star Trek where economics are referenced and more time philosophising about society. Would be fine, but became very repetitive.

Narration was okay but some very common Trek character names were mispronounced.

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  • ladan jiracek
  • 06-24-17

great! I recommend it!!

very good!! its very interesting to set what the future of humanity might look like

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