Human civilization has progressed through many stages. Each stage arose from the “integration” of the tools developed in the prior stage. Believe it or not, the next economic paradigm will arise from the integration of the tools being developed in the current stage of human development. Let me explain:
We started as hunter-gathers who traveled from place to place to follow animal migrations and seasonal flora. People would collect fallen branches and burn them for heat or cooking. Then people started to sharpen rocks that could be used to hunt food better than a dull rock. They sharpened rocks to chop down trees for warmth and shelter. Soon they sharpened rocks to till soil.
The arrival of the agrarian age came when the arrow, the axe, and the plow were integrated; that is, the output of one became the input of another – allowing people to conserve energy and increasing productivity. The emergence of communities led to the division of labor as people specialized their skills. People soon developed tools and techniques for forging metals, building structures, and harnessing of forces such as wind, sun, water, and domesticated animals.
The arrival of City-States arose when division of labor, harnessing forces, and transportation became integrated. Spare time became available to experiment in ideas such as governance, laws, civil services, and currency. Travel allowed for trade of goods, services, and the spread of knowledge across great distances.
The age of philosophy emerged as the leisure class, knowledge exchange, and civil law integrated such that people began to question existence, spirituality, and test theories about the observations that they constantly witnessed in the natural world.
The scientific age emerged from the integration of tools developed during the philosophical age. Written language, mathematics, geometry, came together as alchemists attempting to turn lead into gold, instead created many other new and useful things from the elements. Astronomy, calculus, the scientific method, and modern finance were born.
The industrial age emerged as an integration of the tools developed by the scientific age. Eli Whitney demonstrated the “interchangeability of parts” paving the way for modern production. The printing press and cotton gin demonstrated the scalability of machinery while capitalization and securitization of value (finance) allowed a merchant class to allocate land, labor, and capital.
The age of information formed from the integration of tools created by the industrial revolution. All that machinery created a tremendous amount of data. Computers were developed for processing data creating information that could be used to make productivity more efficient.
The Knowledge age emerged from the integration of tools developed during the information age. The Internet vastly accelerated the amount of information available from which knowledge could be applied as factors of production in physical systems from weather prediction, space travel, medicine, and new ways for people to organize their selves.
The innovation age will emerge from the integration of tools developed by the knowledge age. So called “social media” is creating thousands of platforms upon which people reorganize themselves around interests, affinities, relationship, and commerce. As these tools integrate; that is, when the output of one tool becomes the input of another tool (and vice versa), a new economic paradigm will emerge.
Keep in mind that the agrarian economy and all previous stages are still with us today. Keep in mind that elements of future economies also exist today. Keep in mind that the US dollar has not always been the currency of trade nor should we expect that it will always be with us in the future. We can assume that the productivity inherent in people and communities is not dependent on the currency, rather, currency is dependent on it. Time is the only scarce resource and everyone has an equal amount of it. As such, time is the only true currency.