Monday, May 19, 2014

Rifkin's new book continued

Continuing from this post.

Chapter 9 is on the prosumer in a smart economy. A major question is how the IoT infrastructure will be financed. Should public goods be government or privately financed? Both sides agreed that public goods should maintain a natural monopoly, since competition for such services would generate waste. The US opted for the privately owned public utilities option. Now this battle is playing out over the internet, where mega-business wants to own it and everyone else wants the FCC to declare it a government owned public utility.

Rikfin argues that the internet and emerging IoT infrastructure are financed by consumers, not big business. Yes, the latter has invested large amounts in its infrastructure. But incentives like the governmental feed-in tariff, which guarantees a premium price above market value for early adopters of renewable energy production. When RE production's efficiency rivals traditional energy source the tariff will phase out. Small prosumers dominate this transfer and thus finance the majority of the transition to RE through the tariff.

Which of course is coming to challenge the notion of dominant, private public utilities. And playing out with the FCC internet debate. A new generation like Yochai Benkler are promoting the Networked Commons, a third alternative to either strict government or market control. And that is just the lead-in to Part III of the book to come on its incipient rise.

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