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What Is Post-Scarcity?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2016
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Post-scarcity is the theoretical end of the economy and scarcity resulting from severely low-priced or free goods and services. To achieve post-scarcity, resources must be overly abundant or unlimited. Several proposed methods to maintain high resource levels are molecular assemblers and space mining, both of which are highly theoretical as of 2011. Aside from having mass abundance, the resources must be fairly distributed to everyone on earth, without prejudice to race, religion, location or any other factors. Labor in a post-scarcity society is largely automated and minimal non-voluntary labor may be required, though voluntary labor may still exist.

The first step to having post-scarcity is to defeat scarcity by having an overwhelming abundance of tangible resources. These resources include wood, metal, stone, food, intelligence, energy and other resources used on a daily basis by the human population. Most experts say overwhelming abundance is enough to qualify for this society, while others say resources must be unlimited. Another contested point is intangible resources, such as time, which some experts say must be conquered to truly have such a society.

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While the earth contains a vast amount of natural resources, the amount is not enough to satisfy all people for an indefinite amount of time without the fear of depletion. This leaves two highly theoretical practices to be considered. A molecular assembler is a device that takes molecules and uses minimal labor to assemble them into a certain product or resource. Space mining involves largely automated mining plants that go out into space, specifically to asteroids, to mine for resources so the earth does not become depleted.

Simply having mass resources is not enough; they must be fairly distributed regardless of the nation, region, people or any other factors. The extremely low price of resources in a post-scarcity society would make this possible, but many experts say governments and logistics would prevent widespread distribution. Reasons to prevent this distribution would be to make a profit or to ensure that all resources are accounted for when they are released to the public; both of these slow the distribution rate and can keep post-scarcity from becoming a reality.

Another part of living in a post-scarcity society is the elimination, or extreme reduction, of non-voluntary labor. This is because the post-scarcity society is expected to be mainly automated, meaning most people would not have, nor would they need, jobs. Voluntary labor, or labor in which people want to participate without worrying about a paycheck or societal necessity, may still exist in this society. Most voluntary labor would be creative or artistic, depending on the individual laborer.

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