We started off very broad; thinking about all the different ways our interactions and dependencies on resources might change in the future. We created a giant mind map (purple ink on the whole represents speculative ideas that might happen):
One of the areas I was particularly interested in (as of right now at least–we’ll see where the research goes) was the idea of Resource Sharing. This idea could fall under the blanket of a closed-loop system in which resources cycle within the same system.
In the future, resources will become scarcer and more precious, which means we will have to cooperatively share what is available. Collaborative sharing models already exist today, as discussed by Rachel Botsman in her book What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. For example, products-as-service models such as Zipcar allow people to benefit from car ownership without having to actually own a car. But what if instead of cars and vacation homes, in the future we were sharing more drastically? I recently heard about a dog-sharing service in San Francisco, in which owners split the costs and care with each other. In the future, will we be sharing more drastically, such as sharing children?
Another type of model is Communal Economies, in which a group of consumers are able to borrow and sell without the interference of corporations. One interesting example was Zopa in the United Kingdom, in which lenders with extra money can lend it directly to borrowers without middle-man banks. Although it seems optimistic, it certainly does seem that these types of online services are turning the tide on big corporations who traditionally had lots of leverage. In the future, corporations may have an entirely different role in our society.
The third type of model include Redistribution Markets, where resources (products and goods) go back into the market for resale. An annoying ad I see constantly on Facebook that comes to mind here for a website called Poshmark, in which people sell clothing items in their closet. Another app, called Swap, does a bit of matchmaking to find people who have items other people with things people are willing to swap them for. What if in the future, technology helped facilitate this process of swapping and bartering even more? What if people went into the store looking to buy a particular movie, and our RFID / NFC watches knew what we are about to buy and we’d receive a notification that one of their friends in their networks already owns the item?