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Economic Impact of Space Based Resources/Automation
This is somewhere on the line between OA General Setting Discussion, Real Life, and Off-topic, but decided to post it here.

In RL economics, as it applies to raw materials/commodities, the rest of the universe beyond Earth is functionally non-existent.

By this I mean that the values of various materials are driven by their abundances on Earth, not in the Solar System as a whole. There could be asteroids containing cubic km of gold or platinum or rare earths out there right now, but since we don't have the means to actively get to them right now (we could create the means but that's not generally considered) it doesn't impact their prices per ounce or kg in any way.

But what if that were to change?

What happens if/when some kind of significant survey is done of the asteroid belt or the moon(s) or the like we find out that there are some large multiples more (orders of magnitude more?) of the elements we run our civ on just 'floating around out there'? What about if/when the means to mine and transport space based materials to Earth becomes available/feasible?

Do we see the price of some materials crash through the floor? Or not so much? What are the economic impacts of such discoveries and then capabilities on prices on Earth? Gold is apparently $1722/ounce today - what happens if we go into space and find so much that the price crashes to a penny per ounce? Same for all other 'rare' elements.

Moving on from there - and perhaps closer to home - automation is already impacting labor costs and pay when it becomes cheaper to use a robot than a human. So far this seems to look good for 'the owners and shareholders' but not so much for the workers. But what happens if/when automation gets so cheap that it costs only a fraction of current prices for any and all labor costs? Do the owners/shareholders just ignore this and continue charging increased prices for things? Or does it reach the point where they are forced to cut prices because they can't justify charging X dollars per hour if the robot is actually only costing Y pennies per day to work?

Can automation become so cheap that it starts forcing companies to push their revenue projections downward?

Does automation eventually become so cheap and common that the entire concept of paying for labor starts to seem ridiculous?



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Economic Impact of Space Based Resources/Automation - by Drashner1 - 05-19-2020, 09:31 AM

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