Is there a free lunch, ever?
We humans value something higher if it’s expensive / limited, & lower if its free / unlimited; rather than based on its true utility. For example, we value Gold that we don’t really need because its limited and expensive, rather than air or water, because its seemingly unlimited and (almost) free. Money and currencies work the same way, there is always a limited printed currencyby each country, hence its valued well. Same with Bitcoins, we will not value them if they were unlimited … 21 million fixed number makes us value them higher.
This psychological phenomena has lead to various challenges across all ages of human evolutions.
- In the agriculture revolution, we have ignored good quality life style that hunter gatherers used to have, more time for oneself. They would hunt for a few hours every day, and then spend quality time with family, tribe every day.
- In the industrial revolution, we have ignored nature, air, water, and lead to major climate change within a couple of centuries, that would have in previous ages taken 10,000s of years at least.
Seemingly, we are not learning much from history. In the information age today, we are continuing to misvalue various important necessities of life highlighted above. To put this in perspective, consider a real life example below.
- Chinese billionaires will pollute the local environment to make money, and then import clean fresh air cans for themselves from Canada.
- We are likely to spend billions / trillions of dollars to try and inhabit Mars, whereas we can easily focus on making our own planet more habitable and sustainable.
Internet being free has worsened the situation further. We used to value every letter of every word few decades ago, when we had to send letters & telegrams (it used to be priced at per word cost). It would take weeks to months to get a response, but was somehow worth it, and we humans (arguably) lived pretty fine back then and communicated efficiently on what mattered. With the internet revolution, it now costs (almost) nothing to send a message to someone within fraction of a second. And we end up sending and receiving 100s of messages, emails daily, without valuing how much it takes for us to absorb this information, how it has become addictive, and how is it evolving us cognitively. And we compromise on our privacy when we use these “free platforms”. Imagine if, whatsapp charged for each message, facebook charged for each scroll down, google charged for each search, tinder charged for each swipe, and so on. I think we humans will value the usage of internet platforms much better, use them efficiently, and save a lot of time. Humans can save hours every day to focus on their personal well being, family, work, or anything else that matters to them. We shall get better “Return on Time”, a concept we have not defined well yet.
In most human evolution eras, there has been no going back. Agricultural age whilst may not had been good for majority of peasants, we somehow chose to just continue down the path we evolved into. Industrial revolution also has made our planet more unsustainable and we never looked back. It’s upto all of us to take this opportunity, have a step back, and really think where we are going in the information age and if we should change / improve our course. This can be the biggest Human evolutionary action, ever.