Economics is not natural

Douglas Rushkoff, photo courtesy of The Edge
Douglas Rushkoff, photo courtesy of The Edge

We must stop perpetuating the fiction that existence itself is dictated by the immutable laws of economics. These so-called laws are, in actuality, the economic mechanisms of 13th Century monarchs, says author Douglas Rushkoff in his new book, Life Inc. He goes on to say:

Some of us analyzing digital culture and its impact on business must reveal economics as the artificial construction it really is. Although it may be subjected to the scientific method and mathematical scrutiny, it is not a natural science; it is game theory, with a set of underlying assumptions that have little to do with anything resembling genetics, neurology, evolution, or natural systems.

Rather, the marketplace in which most commerce takes place today is not a pre-existing condition of the universe. It’s not nature. It’s a game, with very particular rules, set in motion by real people with real purposes. That’s why it’s so amazing to me that scientists, and people calling themselves scientists, would propose to study the market as if it were some natural system — like the weather, or a coral reef. It’s not. It’s a product not of nature but of engineering.

So how to best transcend the current economic mess? Historian and author George Dyson reckons we should put Jeff Bezos, Pierre Omidya, Elon Musk, Tim O’Rielly, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Nathan Myhrvold and Danny Hills in a room somewhere and don’t let them out until they have framed a new, massively-distributed financial system, founded on sound, open, peer-to-peer principles, from the start. And don’t call it a bank. Launch a new financial medium that is as open, scale-free, universally accessible, self-improving, and non-proprietary as the Internet, and leave the 13th century behind.

Read Douglas Rushkoff’s full article at the Edge …