The Post-Economic Institute argues that, due to the way in which digital technology works, economics no longer offers a valid system for measuring value. Pivoting away from economics is a major shift, which requires no small amount of explanation and justification. This section sets out the full theory and chief principles that underpin post-economics in five parts.
Part I of the theory of post-economics looks at how ‘the economy’ in our time has taken on characteristics of religious fundamentalism, in the sense that it represents the ultimate authority over every area of our lives, even though most people have very a limited understanding of how it works or what it means. To question that authority would be a form of heresy.
It then looks at the four influencing factors that serve to make economics obsolete as a governing system of value.
Part II of the theory of post-economics addresses how our current economic system of value should be adapted to suit digital technology. It starts by identifying the four main elements involved in the creation and provision of – and regulation of access to – products and services (business, customers, jobs and money) and redefining them.
It then analyses the values (privacy, choice, opportunity and competition) of our main global economic system, capitalism, to identify the reasons why digital connectivity means that they must now be considered obsolete and in need of redefinition.
Part III of the theory of post-economics argues why it is in the interests of businesses for economics to cease being our governing system of value. It looks at the aspirations modern businesses have for transforming the customer experience they offer through digital technology – and why they merely represent marketing terms without significant changes to how we measure business performance.
This part further analyses some common metrics businesses currently measure to track business success, and identifies alternatives that make more sense given how digital technology works.
Part IV of the theory of post-economics looks at what has been termed ‘the decade of assistance’; the period we are currently in where tech companies anticipate our interactions with devices will undergo a major shift. It argues that as a concept this is a great idea, though the focus of whom it will be designed to benefit needs to undergo review.
It then addresses the idea of employment when everything can be tracked about an individual, arguing that any activity someone undertakes can technically constitute work.
The final part of the theory of post-economics speculates as to what happens when an individual becomes entangled in a system of total connectivity – how that person comes to act as a participant and how a coherent culture can be threaded around it that is designed to stimulate participation rather than consumption.
It gives three examples – one for today (when the infrastructure of society still regards us as consumers), in 5-10 years’ time (in a more established decade of assistance, but one in which economics is still the dominant ideology and we are defined as consumers) and in 20-30 years’ time (when technology has evolved near to something like total connectivity, the obsolescence of economics has been acknowledged and guidance is the chief operating principle).