Will We Still Have Money in 2100?
By Stephen Aguilar-Millan
Money has been around since the dawn of history. A future without money would suggest that we would be moving toward a barter economy rather than an exchange economy in 2100.
It is entirely possible that this could happen at the individual level. The Internet could allow peer-to-peer exchange, much in the way that eBay accommodates this at present. However, a barter system is unlikely to be of use at the societal level. The supply of public services like defense or justice are best facilitated through a monetary contribution, such as taxes.
This reason alone is likely to keep money with us in 2100. But in what form? Who is likely to issue it? More interestingly, does cash have a future? Money has become largely digital over the past few decades. This is unlikely to change unless there is a major disruption to the way in which accounting records are kept.
Despite the predictions of its demise, cash has proven to be very resilient. Cash is the lifeblood of the black-market economy because it leaves no audit trail, and, as long as people want to avoid paying taxes, it will continue to serve that function. We can speculate that, even if notes and coins were abolished, a parallel form of “cash” would develop. For this reason, cash is still likely to be with us in 2100.
What may change are the issuers of money. At present, governments reserve for themselves the right to issue legal tender. Yet, systems of parallel currency have emerged. For example, we are accustomed to spending air miles (or points) for travel. Companies could harness the function of money as a store of value and a standard for deferred payments by issuing purchase tokens for future use. Most supermarket loyalty schemes operate along these lines. It could well happen that this trend, enabled by the Internet, could explode over the course of this century.
The trend will be enhanced if companies can tap into the trust that their customers have in their brands. Many companies do so already through loyalty credit cards, and even a form of private banking. This is one way in which the remainder of the twenty-first century could change.
If it is true that there is a growing distrust in the nation-state as a vehicle for expressing our collective aspirations, then, as our trust is transferred to the institutions that come to replace the nation-state, so those institutions will come to control the issuance of money.
It is quite likely that we will still have money in 2100, but it may not be issued by governments any longer.About the author:
Stephen Aguilar-Millan is director of research at The European Futures Observatory, www.eufo.org. He is also a member of the World Future Society’s Global Advisory Council and a frequent speaker at WFS conferences.
Free Email Newsletter
Sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter. Just type your email into the box below and click subscribe.
This is my last posting for the next few days. I will be taking my office apart so that we can move to our new apartment downtown next Tuesday. I will be unplugged and disconnected except by tablet. Expect me to be back in the saddle before the end of next week probably in time to provide you with some more headlines. In the interim these are the stories I share with you this week:
Today, literally thousands of alternative transportation vehicles are coming out of the woodwork and they nearly all have the same problem – no place to drive them. Most are banned from biking and hiking trails, and they are neither licensed, nor licensable, for use on the streets. I’d like to discuss some new possible solutions and why Colorado is poised to take the lead in the alternative transportation marketplace.
In a recent conference promoting not only their latest gizmos but their company's animating vision as well, Google executives declared they were working toward a future in which technology "disappears," "fades into the background," becomes more "intuitive and anticipatory." Commenting on this apparently "bizarre mission for a tech company," Bianca Bosker warns that their genial and enthusiastic promotional language masks Google's aspiration to omnipresence via invisibility, an effort to render us dependent and uncritical of their prevalence through its marketing as easy, intuitive, companionable.
Occasionally during meetings one of my staff – an avid birder – will elbow me and I’ll look up and glimpse a bald eagle. Each time, I am in awe. I live in Washington State, which is home to a plethora of eagles, where pods of Orca ply the waters near the San Juan Islands, and where roads are sometimes blocked by herds of elk.
In this month's Report on Business Magazine, a supplement that comes with The Globe and Mail, one of Canada's national newspapers, Stanford University's Mark Jacobson provides a best case scenario
According to The Hollywood Reporter, celebrity tech CEO Peter Thiel is upset that movies like The Matrix and Avatar make technological innovation seem "destructive and dysfunctional."
A team of researchers are asking the public to help them locate and count all the sources of CO2 coming from power plants on the planet.