“You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century”


Izabella Kaminska in the FT's Alphaville provides a transcript of a NYC Comic Con panel featuring Paul Krugman and Brad Delong, Annalee Newitz (i09), Chris Black (Enterprise writer), Felix Salmon and Manu Saadiaon post-scarcity economics of the sort enabled by Star Trek matter replicators:

MANU: The project for the book, it started out drinking beer with Chris. We were discussing about whether there is a book about Star Trek economics because there is a book about everything to do with Star Trek.

In the book I’ve tried to step out of that mindset, and tried to actually describe how it works. And I’ve discovered some very surprising things.

The biggest thing, I believe, that I got out of researching the book and writing it, is that the post scarcity in Star Trek is not driven by technology but a policy choice. And this is where having such a stellar economic panel to discuss this comes in.

FELIX: What is post scarcity?

BRAD: Well 400 years ago, in almost all human societies being rich relative to your neighbours mattered a lot. If you were poor, especially poor and female, chances were you weren’t getting the calories you needed to reliably ovulate, and chances were your children weren’t getting the nutrients that they needed for their immune systems to be protected against the common cold. 400 years ago the great bulk of humanity lived lives that were nasty, brutish, short and they were hungry pretty much all the time. And when they weren’t hungry they were wet, because the roof leaked, and when they weren’t wet they were probably cold because damp proofing hadn’t been invented.

Now we, here, in the prosperous middle class in the North Atlantic are moving into another society and Gene Roddenberry tried to paint our future by saying wait a minute what’s going to happen in three centuries? In three centuries we are going to have replicators. Anything material, gastronomic that we want indeed anything experiential with the holo-deck we we want we are going to have. What kinds of people will we be then and how will we live? And indeed, we are quite ahead on that transition already.

More here.