The Future – Zero Marginal Cost Society

I recently picked up this book called “The Zero Marginal Cost Society” by Rifkin. The article aims to discuss and summarize the key ideas and crux of the book.

Rifkin mentions that profit is the lifeblood of capitalism. Firms, in the pursuit of profits, raise their productivity so as to lower production costs. This drives out external sources of competition, maximizing the firm’s share of the market. This continued process of cost reduction to raise profits propels capitalism. However, this process is also paradoxically, what drives capitalism to its demise. As firms achieve optimum efficiency, the marginal costs of producing a good approaches zero. This means that eventually, such goods and services become free. When this happens, profit will no longer be the driving factor of the economy. Capitalism will be eclipsed by a new economic paradigm, the Collaborative Commons.

As radical as this may sound, the Collaborative Commons has slowly but surely been replacing many areas of the Capitalist market. The existence of free online publications of books, movies, and even university courses, it seems that it is only a matter of time before capitalism retires from its throne, and be taken over by the Collaborative Commons.

The rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) will aid us in maximizing our productivity levels to a level never before seen. The IoT is an abstract concept, in summary, what it does is allows the collection of data from every single thing around us, from trees, to humans, to machines, so as to maximize productivity levels and minimize thermodynamic inefficiencies resulting from the production of goods (As goods move up the value chain, entropy is increased due to changes made to the goods).


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