Economy of meaning

As our industrial economy moves towards ever-increasing productivity and ever-increasing automation, the question arises of what the future economic role of people will be. Are we heading towards an apocalyptic world of the Matrix where robots rule and humans are simply batteries?

The answer is a definit no. We are heading towards the economy of “meaning”. In this economy, people pay each other for the production of meaning. What does this mean?

In effect, people will pay other people (or organizations) because they do things that add meaning to their lives. A good example is music. Current thinking holds that music is bought because it is entertainment. But I argue that a more accurate view is that music is bought because it produces meaning in a person’s life. Similar examples can be applied to books, movies, education, or even going to a therapist.

But what is the meaning?

In effect, meaning is what allows people to do two things:

1. He lives in the phenomenal world. By this I mean mediating emotions, coping, coming to terms, accepting, and whatever it takes to interact with a world that is often contrary to our human sensibilities.

2. Grow in awareness. This in the past was known as becoming spiritual, but in this new rational scientific age, the term spirituality is so muddied with dogma and superstition, that consciousness has more meaning.

Of course, there will always be a part of the economy dedicated to producing the material goods necessary to physically live. But this part of the economy has been shrinking continuously for the past few hundred years.

Some will also argue that with the impending demise of the oil economy we will revert to the old ways of less automation. Perhaps we do to some degree, especially when it comes to growing food. But this can’t be true because as we invent new technologies to harness the power of the sun, we’re likely to increase automation, not decrease it, even if we suffer temporary reversals from time to time.

In the long run, as productivity grows and we learn to curb greed and regulate excessive concentration of wealth, individuals will find more free time on their hands, and assuming the human soul aspires to be useful, we will find ways to acquire meaning. and, in turn, produce meaning for others: in effect, the ultimate service economy.

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