The Zero Marginal Cost Society

Summer 2014

The Zero Marginal Cost Society

by Jeremy Rifkin

Machines will do all the work and we’ll share and care a lot more, as we all become prosumers

There’s a good chance you’re already a prosumer. If you’re sharing things like music, movies, a room, or a car, some of the things Jeremy Rifkin writes about in Zero Marginal Cost will resonate with you.

The emergence of 3D printing, online courses, open-source software, and the internet of things means goods are now being produced at near zero marginal cost essentially for free. Rifkin argues that the eradication of profit margins means a new civilization will emerge based around caring and sharing.

The new sharing economy will, Rifkin predicts, mean the end of some of today’s major companies. It will also pave the way for energy to be produced and networked by prosumers instead of a handful of major energy companies. A potentially more concerning prediction is the elimination of work as machines take over. But don’t worry, Rifkin does not share James Cameron’s Terminator 2 vision of the future, but instead one where machines do all the work, leaving us humans with plenty of time for reflection, relaxation and fun.

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