How is the field of economics dealing with technological change?
This is the interesting thing. Part of the thesis in most of my books critiquing the traditional economics is that they missed the most important driving variable in the whole economic process -the evolution of technology and the unfolding of the Industrial Revolution itself. Which is really all about change. Economic theory considers technology as a given. This is why economics, I’ve always said, is backing into the future looking through the rear view mirror.
Both Marshall McLuhan and Bruce Sterling have said that a good futurist is one who can predict the present. Do you agree?
I think that’s a good way of saying it. There’s another thing about being a futurist, and it relates to personal responsibility for the future. In other words, we are all making the future every minute that we live, by way of our collective and individual decisions. If we think of it like that, everybody is really a futurist.
Tell me about your Layer Cake With Icing.
This is one of my earliest diagrams. I use a layer cake as a metaphor for a total productive system of an industrial society. If you can visualize it, the icing on the top is the private sector, which rests on the layer below, the public sector. These top two layers are the only ones economists typically measure. But in my analysis, there are two lower layers that are non-monetized and invisible to economists, but which are really supporting the whole thing. These include the Love Economy - unpaid productive work like raising children and maintaining the household, serving on the school board, do-it-yourself housing, rehab - and Mother Nature, the vast wealth of biodiversity that keeps our air and water clean and provides all the food and fibre and resources we need to sustain life, which go completely uncounted. When an economic system doesn’t take into consideration these two vital lower layers, which support the official money economy, then both the society and ecosystem get kind of cannibalized. Wall Street and the financial community all over the world are really living in a fool’s paradise. (more…)