About this Research Topic
Our economy, as well as our legal institutions, are built on scarcity. New technologies continue to democratize, decentralize, and disrupt production, offering the possibility that scarcity will be a thing of the past for many industries. We call these technologies of abundance.
Abundance lowers costs. When that happens, whatever scarcity driving the economics of that sector is reduced if not erased. Digitization and its effects on the production, organization, and distribution of information provide early examples of changes when costs approach zero. Copyright industries went through upheaval and demands for new protections. New technologies such as 3D printing, Cas-9 Cripsr, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, and more are democratizing, decentralizing, and disrupting production in food and alcohol production, biotechnologies, and more, and even the production of innovation itself, opening the prospect of an abundance society in which people can print or otherwise obtain the things they want, including living organisms, on-demand.
In this Research Topic, we aim to explore the implications for regulation and society as technology continues to reduce and scarcity of who is in the market and what is available on the market. How will markets and legal institutions based on scarcity react when it is gone? Will we try to replicate that scarcity by imposing legal rules, as IP law does? Will we come up with new forms of artificial scarcity, as brands and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) do? Or will we reorder our economics to focus on things other than scarcity? If so, what will that look like? And how will abundance affect the distribution of resources in society? Will we reverse the long-standing trend towards greater income inequality? Or will society find new ways to distinguish the haves from the have-nots?
Society already has examples of each type of response. The copyright industries survived the end of scarcity, and indeed thrived, not by turning to the law but by changing business practices, leveraging the scarcity inherent to live performances, and using streaming technology to remove the market structures that fed unauthorized copying. Newsgathering, reporting, and distribution face challenges flowing from democratized, decentralized, and disrupted production. Luxury brands and NFTs offer examples of artificial scarcity created to reinforce a sort of modern sumptuary code. And we have seen effective, decentralized production based on economics of abundance in examples ranging from open-source software to Wikipedia.
This Research Topic invites articles that discuss case studies of industries facing the transition from scarcity to abundance. It also invites submissions on the development of the theory of abundance. Finally, submissions can address the policy challenges in particular areas of law (e.g., intellectual property or taxation) or public policy (e.g., energy regulation or telecommunications) that abundance brings, evaluating how we might remake our institutions from legal ones to the way we organize labor, production, and consumption to respond to this new opportunity/challenge.
Keywords: abundance society, scarcity, regulation, digitization, innovation
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