John Forstmeier

Build well 🛠️

Future Economics and Open Source

Posted at — Jul 23, 2019

Classic economics are primarily concerned with the balance of supply and demand in the marketplace. Balancing these two factors form the basis for current market operations based on individuals making production and consumption decisions in an open exchange. This open market supply-demand law is taken as one of two assumptions in this post’s thought experiment.

The second assumption is that our workforce is becoming increasingly automated; direct human involvement is gradually being replaced by automated tools and processes. A direct result of this scenario is that the distribution of humans in producer and consumer roles will be highly skewed towards the latter which will make up a substantial majority.

Given these two assumptions, this post explores, via thought experiment, the following question:

What, if any, benefits does an open source philosophy have in this scenario?

The primary concern in this future economic situation is to be able to continue to effectively cater to human consumption while maintaining individual rights and dignity. To that end, providing the necessary tools and resources to producers to maximize their productive output would be a major focus.

Open source would likely provide a series of benefits outlined below.

Also, it is worth expanding on the expectation that open source will primarily benefit the producer minority in this scenario. Open source would primarily impact producer-producer interactions and not producer-consumer or consumer-consumer interactions. It would mostly be a factor in market share competition while the producer-consumer relationship would likely generally remain unaffected.

Additionally, this post does not touch on what form the actual means of value distribution to consumers would take given the high skew between producers-consumers in the marketplace - open source is not likely be the facilitator. Options for this will be discussed in a separate post.

In summary, this thought experiment covers the scenario in which automation increasingly dominates production and what effect open source would have on this economic environment. An open source “default setting” would lead to shared core intellectual property encouraging comparative advantage maximization and reduced barriers to market participation. Collaborative competition and stronger production tools would also likely be observed results as well as the ancillary option for non-producers to participate in shared resource ownership.

All in all, open source could have a positive impact in a situation calling for unbridled productive output.

[1] COSS Company Value Creation and Capture Fundamentals