Open Source Economy

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The open source economy is an economic paradigm, where instead of proprietary research and development practiced by companies - design occurs instead via open, global collaborative design. A similar model has already happened in the 'collaborative' development of open source software, though with limited success in terms of answering the question of Economic Distribution. 'Collaborative' is in quotes because there are critical elements of collaboration missing - at a very fundamental level yet subtle to the casual observer - when examined from an economic transformation perspective. However, in the Open Source Hardware case, there appears to be a higher chance of solving for Economic Distribution. Open source software somehow had limited results: for example, many sellers can now operate through Kickstarter or Etsy - but large platforms dominate (such as Amazon) - and unprecedented levels of wealth concentration have resulted. A similar trend may be expected with hardware - except for one possibility. This possibility is open source hardware providing entire ecosystems for living (food, energy, housing, technology) that are distributed - and thus provide maximal amounts of freedom. If not handled properly - this can backfire - as for example seen with social media - which has done wonders to empower autocratic regimes and divisions between people. Thus - any powerful technology requires responsible use. On OSE's side, we chose to address this by a specific program teaching people psycho-social integration as a core of its immersion education program - in addition to the technological literacy. Meaning - learning to be a responsible, capable person. This is generally not taught in school, and even if it is taught - there are limited numbers of 'jobs' that allow people to practice. OSE's goal is to change this situation - by training people to create these 'jobs' for themselves and for others.

But - is it clear that the open source economy is necessarily an ethical economy?


An open source economy is defined as an economy in which the development of goods and services happens via open collaboration between enterprises and organizations on the global level. In other words - an economy beyond scarcity thinking. It is predicated on transcending a scarcity mindset - which is an internal psychological evolution of humans. It is a prerequisite for a world at peace.

It is an economy where the rate of innovation across all sectors is significantly higher than the rate of innovation provided by proprietary research and development characteristic of the 20th century. In short, the open source economy is efficient: it avoids Competitive Waste - thereby optimizing not only production, but also - distribution. It is a paradigm that solves the last frontier of the human economy - distribution - being Distributive Rather Than Re-distributive.

Some notable characteristics of an open source economy are:

  1. Promotion of world peace by eradicating resource conflicts - by making even physical goods non-scarce - in so far as the production of goods for modern living is based on abundant materials and Abundant Energy Resources.
  2. It features Distributed Market Substitution for all economic goods.
  3. Innovation is unleashed as collaboration is the norm in R&D activities as well as in product development.
  4. Product development occurs as a non-proprietary, collaborative effort, such as that shown already for software with the Linux Foundation. Transparency replaces secrecy, and open innovation replaces protectionism, leveling the playing field of global geopolitics significantly. However, this is largely an internal paradigm shift in humans that allows this.
  5. Human integration towards personal maturation (marked by self-esteem, ethics, and self-determination) is achieved commonly by most of the human population
  6. The Gini Coefficient drops at least to pre-industrial levels - by making even physical goods non-scarce
  7. Forest cover percentage has reversed its continuing downward trend, as the derivative landslides, desertification, and floods begin to be less significant causes of societal instability.
  8. Wholesale ecocide is reversed. It may be desirable to reintroduce extinct species via genetic engineering, but only if proper risk assessment has been done.
  9. The number of casualties caused by resource conflicts falls from the current upward trend of absolute numbers since 1400, to its current 10,000/year baseline - to 0. See War Statistics.
  10. Societal institutions displaying poor incentive structures, thereby causing general conflict of interest between the economy and ethics, are corrected.
  11. Human enterprise is marked by self-determination as opposed to commercialism - where most of human activity is more true and not under the influence of sposored special interest or payments of any sort which otherwise create a conflict of interest between true motiviation and artificial motivation. Artificial here is defined as doing something alienating, for compensation. Special interest control is no voluntary or self-determined - it is extrinsically motivated as opposed to internally motivated.
  12. Anyone can learn to do anything (same as stated mission of WikiHow), first by cultivating a mindset of the Art of Possibility. Not for hobbies, which means spare time spent away from a majority of time spent doing stuff you hate, but for activities that are part of financial independence (high tech self-providing like Frithjof Bergmann).

Some more notes:

  1. Patents are no longer secured because open collaboration and patents are incompatible. It becomes commonly understood that the innovation rate is higher when patents are not invoked, and as such, patents become a thing of the past.
  2. Trade secrets no longer exist because open collaboration and trade secrets are incompatible. There is no incentive to secrecy as the value of transparency has emerged as more productive.
  3. Non-disclosure agreements are no longer invoked, as entrepreneurs have recognized that walling up innovation is not consistent with the general good.
  4. Opening of innovation has distributed economic prowess more widely across the globe. As a result of access to best practices across all areas of human endeavor, the difference between first and third world economies have been blurred. Small-minded corruption and lawlessness where the few benefit at the expense of many has largely been eradicated in formerly backward regions of the world. A first rate standards of living is available to all.
  5. Decentralized economies have made economic localization more relevant to commerce. The stock market, derivative financial instruments, and speculation obsolete in the face of crowd-funding, social capital, place-based investment, and regenerative economics. Environmental and social regeneration has become valued more highly than degeneration.
  6. Wholistic, integral, systems thinking has forged a more ecological relationship between economics and natural resources. Natural resources have been accepted as the source of wealth and objects of respect.
  7. Global Military Spending has been largely converted from wartime ends to peaceful ends - such as Regenerative Development.

2019 Presentation from the Open Source Microfactory Startup Camp

Quantitative Analysis

Quantitatively speaking, these are translated to the current statistics, and set points are proposed for the next economy:

  1. Overall - for a quantification of the $940B economy required for a transition - see The Tipping Point
  2. Military - 10x reduction from $2T to $200B, with another 10x reduction in the following decade. This is just a gross guess of a practical level that can be attained within 20 years (one generation) - based on transition from weaponry to livingry (as Buckminster Fuller claimed). That means transitioning from kicking ass (stealing products) to producing them instead. The latter is more compelling to those who have feelings.
  3. See other points at End State



The open source economy is an economy that optimizes both production and distribution, while providing environmental regeneration and social justice. The open source economy is in essence a paradigm where communities utilize open source knowledge and tools to provide material prosperity without relying on global supply chains for essential resources.

See our work from the early days of Open Source Ecology - the Enterprise Plan Video of 2011:


Comment on the open source economy definition here.


  1. From Aidan - What are the fundamental relationships of production in the open source economy? By relationships of production I mean not simply the social relationships but more importantly the power relationships that underlie and are the result of the division of the wealth created by the production.

Internal Links


Here are point examples of artifacts that exist in an economy (a Scarcity-Based Economy) prior to open source optimization:

  1. Enforced Mediocrity - Products are not optimized. If there are dozens to hundreds of manufacturers of a given product - and all engage in proprietary development - none of the product attain the maximum potential that can be afforded by all manufacturers pooling talent to create only the best products. Thus, products remain mediocre. Those products which are considered 'best in class' are still mediocre - because they are missing the potential increased development effort of a collaborative process.
  2. Manufacturer’s reps - These are dedicated sales professionals, contracted by manufacturers to peddle their wares. In the open source economy, a combination of online documentation, local microfactory sales outlets, microfactory-based support, and a worldwide online community provide for product service, development, local adaptation, and optimization. For any product in a scarcity-based economy, there are typically dozens to thousands of manufacturers across the globe. Armies of representatives exist for each product. In an optimized economy, a worldwide construction set is created for the specific product. Once Enforced Mediocrity is eradicated, so can countless lives transition to livelihoods other than those of salespeople.