Capitalism and Socialism aren’t new concepts to us and for many years the rich have controlled markets and industries and continued to get richer. However, this is all changing according to Jeremy Rifkin’s book The Zero Marginal Cost Society. Jeremy Rifkin is an American economic and social theorist writer who has written over twenty books discussing the impact of scientific and technological changes on the economy, workforce, society, and our environment.
Rifkin’s book The Zero Marginal Cost Society addresses the technological changes that we are seeing in the 21st Century. The Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and blockchain have revolutionised how we interact with businesses, business owners and even our own information. What does this mean for Capitalism? Capitalism is facing its very own paradox – its rise and downfall. The difference between ownership and access to a service is vastly different and this change means that as a society we can finally break the capitalist chains that have controlled industry and markets for so long.
Rifkin explains this in a way that we can all understand – in a traditional market, sellers are always looking for new technologies to improve their productivity, reduce marginal costs so a cheaper version of their product can be produced allowing their consumers to be won over and inevitably increasing market shares. By breaking ties with capitalist control and embracing new technologies like IoT and Big Data this can be achieved.
The IoT is quietly has been quietly changing things – how we connect with the world and how the world connects with us as well as integrated technology. When this is combined with the sharing economy we have a partnership that has already had a dramatic impact on society’s industries. But, data is what powers this machine.
Data is more readily available today and the term Big Data is making the rounds as another catch phrase. The amount of data that is available to businesses today is unimaginable, but what matters is what businesses do with this information. Any business can benefit from using big data efficiently. Whether a business is in manufacturing or retail, data from their customers can be used to better understand their customers, target them and build better relationships. Businesses like Airbnb and Uber have completely transformed the way we book our accommodation and how we travel – this is a prime example of how marketplaces are changing.
Rifkin points out that what we do with new technologies and the abundance of data is entirely up to us – is it going to be abused or not? But, the changes that we are beginning to see now hold great things for our future.