Thursday, October 6, 2011

the economics of social/human technologies

The important thing about an economy (socially) is that it provides opportunities for people to specialize and profit off that specialization. It allows for sorting, which creates conditions for mobility, exploration, discovery, challenge, and victory.

High skills = high earnings = prestige. We tend to focus on material technology, for that is what people are most commonly willing to pay for because it delivers something concrete. But is this because of a deficiency in non-material--e.g. human, or social technological development? Yogis 1000 years ago were innovating incessantly in the arts of meditation, astral projection, and so on. Can we assume they were able to deliver concrete results to their customers? They were likely far more advanced technologically in these areas back then than we are now.

That said, people now do pay for entertainment, art, psychotherapy, and so on. These are (potentially) high skill, high value occupations, with a need for training and a demonstrated value. These are human/social technologies--the Arts. But the information asymmetries of the modern economy make it difficult for people to know the real practitioners from the hucksters, or the effective arts from the merely promising. It would serve the material resources of our earth well if we were to develop human/social technology into demonstrably valuable consumables, and cultivate an endless innovation of diverse offerings.

What other high-value social products that deliver real results exist as possible niches in the economy? Briony has touched on one--the shaman, or facilitator of ritual.

1 comment:

briony said...

It's "difficult for people to know the real practitioners from the hucksters, or the effective arts from the merely promising."

Yeah! Steve and I were thinking about, one distant day, setting up a guild of contemporary social shamanism, or a particular style, flavour or quality of practice, and membership of that guild was a clear, actively managed, mark of quality. Hummm...