Applying a little thought to where profits come from

That the prognosis of the previous post will be considered nonsense by the less thoughtful of both the rich and the poor is due to the fallacy that Karl Marx successfully put around in the 19th century — the Labour Theory of Value. This is that the rich can only become so at the expense of the poor — that the rich will always need a mass market to make their profits from.

Yes, one can always make a profit out of employing the human energy of slave labour.  However, you can also make more profits by employing the energy of free labour — so long as they’re desperate enough for work for a pittance.  However, you can also make more profit still by supplying energy to robots.  But does that only apply if there’s also a mass market of people — the Third world perhaps? — who have not yet bought the standard kit of consumer goods that advanced populations already enjoy?

No. If I have a robot — or a set of them — that makes all the consumer goods I need and you develop software for another robot that enables it to produce the same goods with less energy, then you’re making a profit — the difference in energy costs — at my expense. I will then have to set to and develop even more energy-efficient methods.

So there we have it. We don’t need vast and growing consumer markets. We simply need a multiplicity of specialised robots, each of which is being competed against its equivalent by a group somewhere else in the world who are continuously making their software more efficient in the use of energy.

Just as there are millions of different species in he natural environment which are competing against one another by means of energy efficiency, so the human economic environment will operate according to the same principle — instead of millions of species, read millions of specialised robots.

Now that biological research is proving to be the fastest growing sector of science so far in our history we can expect in the years to come to see more DNA-related carbon-based goods of superior performance taking the place of metals-based materials made with highly inefficient high-intensity energy.

2 thoughts on “Applying a little thought to where profits come from

  1. Assumptions here are 1. that sufficient raw materials and energy will be readily available. Some materials can be recycled. The easy fossil fuels and materials are mined first, with higher energy inputs required over time. And 2. that biodiversity losses, waste sink overloads (think carbon and nitrogen cycles, and other waste recycling), toxicity of air/water/food chain, topsoil and aquifer declines, etc. don’t hamstring the humans that are using the robots.

    1. Steve,

      If the biological revolution continues — as I expect it will — then the main raw materials will be carbon dioxide in the air with only trace metals needed (e.g. like the single iron atom in a blood cell surrounded by hundreds of carbon atoms). I’m also assuming that once the present three billion middle-aged contingent start topping out from about 2050, then world population will fall into as steep an exponential decline in population as it was in reverse until recently. Remember also that most of our new materials — far more sophisticated than those we use now — will be based on carbon-based molecules via DNA machine tools. Everything — yes everything — will be recyclable. Keith

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