From inert objects to syndication of services

The current economic model is essentially based on individual ownership of goods and use of services. Accordingly, the added economic value is mostly gained through their consumption via selling, whether it is a primary acquisition or replacement of obsolete or unusable property or services.

By giving objects the capacity of being “communicating actors” (1) and to monitor their own uses and sharing, the Internet of Things will probably emphasize their role as “economic agents”, which role will counterbalance that of existing simple consumer goods.

Therefore, they will likely mostly be considered as vectors of economic value creation in services and will challenge the current principles of individual ownership: sharing an object will become easier and sometimes more interesting than to possess it, conditions of sharing directly supervised by the object itself.

In addition, as aggregators of new uses – mostly created through the conjunctions of already existing ones - objects will increase that part of economic value creation in services: sharing an object will potentially give benefits throughout interoperability of different services that will be associated with, which is not allowed when possessed.

Issues about “sharing”

Our economic models will then naturally have to be restructured on both “sharing models” and the associated rules.

Rules are usually based on “compulsory values”: laws, regulations ... let’s call it the “constitutive values” that operates top-down through the organization or can be “interiorized” by autonomous actors: behavior, culture, know-how, businesses... we will call it “behavior values”, operating in the organization itself. Those last ones are often partly organized consequently to the first… in theory.

The purposes of all those rules are to regulate conditions of interactions between autonomous actors, sharing of economic values, etc. and – most important for constitutive ones - to guarantee convergences of aims VS chaos.

It is therefore critical that “constitutive” organizations (states, NGOs, governance bodies) should be ready to tackle the issues of current changes and to understand how to possibly reply, if they want to be the “sharing rules” original initiators.

Otherwise, facing the lack of anticipation from “constitutive” ones, “transversal” and “behavioral“ organizations such as social networks, users or citizens communities, companies, lobbyists... will lead up their own rules by auto-organizing themselves.

Whoever will be the initiators, they will lead the issues and responses related to “sharing”: costs of realizations, maintenance … and then governance.

What to do?

Considering the difficulties to predict what will be the reactions of the above concerned organizations, and, if the point is to make objects “full actors” in these new economic models, why not to preventatively include in their “raison d’être” - that would be to say in their “associated software intelligence” – ethical purposes and values ?

What kind of values, who will define it?

The challenging issue would be to settle it, which is a major project… but also very exciting. First answers will take some time to emerge but there are some interesting approaches and methods that can be used to that achievement by helping us to foresee potential problems and anticipate accordingly…

Actually, an adapted approach will help us to better apprehend the upcoming evolutions, instead of groping and betting on good evolution of a probable chaotic situation. On the other hand, such an approach could also lead us to consider… that existing “constitutive organizations” are not the adapted ones to tackle the issues…
Philippe Gautier, march 2010

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