Post-scarcity is an economic state or age in which goods can be produced in great abundance with minimal human labor needed, so that they become available to all very cheaply or even freely.
Scarcity refers to the basic fact of life that there exists only a finite amount of human and nonhuman resources to produce a limited amount of goods. Resources such as oil, water, energy, food, and credit boosts industrialization and development. An increased demand of resources combined with a rising population can lead to resource exhaustion. Capitalism takes advantage of supply and demand with inflationary increases and calculated fluctuations of prices. Unscrupulous and greedy capitalists market and drive consumerism and exploit surplus labor forces in a socio-economically primitive age of scarcity in which individuals devote most of their time to creating wealth for themselves and society. Money is an essential form of exchange, and holidays are time spent away from one's usual area of residence. Type 0 is generally plagued by a scarcity economy.
To move beyond scarcity in Type I, advances in technology drive an efficient use of resources so that costs will be considerably reduced or almost everything will be free:
- automated manufacturing technologies
- self-replicating machines
- division of labour
- molecular assemblers or nanofactories
- automation of physical labor using robots
- asteroid mining is a way of greatly reducing scarcity for many useful metals, automated by self-replicating machines
In a post-capitalist society, people would have significant amounts of leisure time to pursue science, the arts, and creative activities. The resultant development of individualities can lead to a utopia.
- The Culture is a post-scarcity economy where technology is advanced to such a degree that all production is automated, and there is no use for money or property. People in the Culture are free to pursue their own interests in an open and socially-permissive society.
- The 24th-century human society of Star Trek is a post-scarcity society due to the replicator being able to synthesize a wide variety of goods nearly instantaneously. The acquisition of wealth is no longer a driving force and people work to better themselves and the rest of humanity. By the 22nd century, money had been rendered obsolete on Earth.