Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bruce Sterling on the Future of Money

This guy fascinates the heck out of me. Here is a thought provoking article by the futurist describing how "money" might evolve over the next decades.
Instead of a plastic card for a bank, we could have a plastic card with a bank. The stone-pillared edifices that used to house banks are full of nightclubs and gyms now; people bank electronically, they use ATMs. An ATM is merely a device to spit paper. Why not make every card an ATM? Tomorrow's microchips won't lack for capacity. A cell phone is like yesterday's switching station, a laptop is yesterday's supercomputer. Why settle for a bank account when you could buy a cheap bank-on-a-chip?

Instead of price tags, we could have radio frequency identification tags that calculate price as you touch the item. Once they're stamped with an inked price, objects have to settle for that value, but why don’t prices change instantaneously in response to demand?

Instead of credit ratings to acquire capital, credit records could become capital. If I'm superb at shopping, a super-user whose word is law for those who trust me for recommendations, how come I'm not paid to shop? Maybe Mr. A minds his p's and q's and never touches his capital--while Mr. B is a player who plunges into debt and escapes it repeatedly.

Instead of "socially responsible investment," we might be confronted with money that refuses to let itself be spent. Electronic funds might double check themselves against a blacklist before they move from one chip to another. Touch a terrorist bank account, and you might find yourself with not just a refusal of funds but also with instant taps on your phone and e-mail.

No comments: