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One of the greatest threats to private property rights.
Today, so many online services confuse the concept of ownership.
Ownership is not merely access to a product. Ownership is about rights, for both tangible and intangible property.
What options do you have to use, enjoy, or transfer that property?
What limits (if any) exist on those options.
These rights are entirely dependent on either the rule of law, or on force.
If Claus Schwab aims to deprive me of my property and my liberty, he needs to remember I have a gun.
The very reason the law exists, is so that people don’t have to resort to violent means to defend themselves. In an ideal world, people would clearly and efficiently negotiate outcomes. This requires acceptable and enforceable boundaries to limit what actions can be taken against people. Otherwise the situation can rapidly devolve into anarcho-tyranny.
The tools of the technocracy aren’t always used to outright rob people. Quite often, they are instead used to tip the scales in a way that coerces people into giving in to schemes that they otherwise wouldn’t. Convenience in exchange for surveillance is the most clear example, but there are other options. If not prevented by a vigilant populace, the state can force people to beta test additional surveillance and control.
Servicification is the replacement of concrete ownership with temporary access. Arguably there are some efficiency gains. Instead of fragile, disposable products providers would invest in products that are built to last. In addition to this, unused products could be accessible to be used by others. These benefits are more advantageous for the owner of the property rather than the users. The only benefit the user gains is that it potentially gives people access to products that they would be otherwise unable to afford.
A big problem is that in our current landscape, the users will likely be charged more than just currency. People may have to pay with their data in addition to currency. Even worse, by using these products may be entirely gated behind a social credit system armed with all-pervasive mass surveillance.
Music, videos, software, & video games are all already quite accessible through online stores. “Owning” these virtual products isn’t actual ownership, it’s merely purchasing a temporary license to make use of them. Temporary as in, the service provider can decide to no longer give the user access. Or even when the service provider goes under, access becomes impossible.
NFTs are an interesting attempt to solve that problem. If one stores entire digital goods on the blockchain, smart contracts could allow permanent and transferrable access. This arrangement requires there to be an incentive for the blockchain to be stored-long term, which may require a high and increasing token price.
Beyond digital goods, servicification can be used to regulate and manage physical assets and goods. With enough surveillance and automation, renting something or somewhere can be done without any human interaction. This is always a double-edged affair, when things are conveniently enabled without human interaction, they can also be restricted without any human interaction or judgement.
This is a new frontier for digital intrusion into people’s lives. While one may hope that they are exempt because they don’t own any smart devices, there are ways around this. People with less money can be presented with predatory arrangements where renting a place also requires them to opt-in to all kinds of surveillance and control, ensuring that privacy and autonomy is only limited to the very wealthy.
It is important to note that these measures aren’t enhancements. In no way does adding internet access to a lock make it more secure. A digital token may represent access but this is in no way the same thing as a key physically required to mechanically unlock a door.
The “sharing economy”
Jobs aren’t safe either. Offshoring allowed the financial class to use human suffering as a competitive advantage against labor. Servicification allows an even further impoverishment of the citizens. By cutting up a single well-paid career into micro-tasks that are then farmed out to either underpaid workers with no bargaining power, or simply automated.
In the best of circumstances, this will have disastrous consequences for the workforce. This precariousness-by-default will eliminate the last vestiges of security people once took for granted. Taken to the extreme, it undermines the very social contract by turning the entire public into mercenaries.
The lockdowns during the Covid Crisis were an atrocious attack on small enterprises. If local economies are to ever thrive again this must be actively reversed. This is not something we have the luxury of simply hoping for. People need to actively work to reduce unfair barriers leveraged against local businesses. One of the things the technocrats fear the most is strong communities with economic self-determination. Making these changes may be difficult and expensive, but it is a whole lot more difficult and expensive to live in a society without an authentic local economy.
Yes, most of the efficiency of servicification can be gained from your local library. Using a library of things allows people to get use out of items they may only need occasionally. There is no reason that the products being shared need to be owned by a multi-national corporation. By supporting and enhancing surveillance-free alternatives we can all benefit from modern efficiency without compromising the vulnerable.