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Nicole FicheraFeb 3, 2024 5:33:41 PM7 min read

Quantum economics is the key to rebalancing our teetering economy

Imagine you’re in a bookshop, and you find a book about planning weddings from the 18th century.

It’s dusty, so you brush it off, flip it open, smell that lovely old book smell.

And as you read, you laugh to yourself at how outdated the practices are, how patriarchal, how quaint. You think about how it might feel to live in that world, trading women for donkeys, matching 16-year-olds with 50-year-olds.

Would you plan your wedding in 2023 based on this book?

For 99.99% of us, I think the answer is no.

So why are we planning our economy this way?

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Let’s back up. What the heck is quantum economics and why are we talking about donkeys and weddings?

We’re talking about donkeys because our economy is still fundamentally run on a set of principles from that wildly outdated period of time.

Most of our economy, and stock market, and prevailing principles are based on the theory of “rational economics.” You know, that old Adam Smith stuff where every person makes structured decisions based on analyzing information, and always acts according to their own self-interest.

Of course, he was wrong. We know that now.

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For about 350 years, this ‘rational’ framework has prevailed, an idea that grew from a tiny town in Scotland and spread like a virus on a rat.

This philosophy of economic self-interest boarded the trade ships and the slave ships and brought its violence to nearly every corner of the world. It’s important to note that a key factor in rational economics is the amorality of desire, or the idea that human desire isn’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it just is. In the world of rational economic theory, the only thing that matters is the self-interest of the perpetrator.

When you see economics clouded in hard-to-understand terms like ‘the invisible hand’ or ‘the market’, it’s easy to accept it as “smart” or “correct.”

When you see economics as human choice and its implications, things feel different.

It’s not hard to draw a line from an economy based on self-interest to the mess we’re in today.

Imperialism is a product of self-interest, where the “rational” outputs of this system justified unconscionable behaviors and passed them off as inevitable — natural, even.

*Sidenote: Imperialism is also the result of gold draining out of England because of bad fiscal policy and endless war, but that’s a story for another day.*

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“Nicole. I thought we were talking about quantum economics. So far we have discussed weddings, dusty books, donkeys, and theories riding in boats like rats. Are we off topic? Are you okay?”

Fear not, dear reader. We’re going somewhere. It will make sense soon.

— -

Okay, so far we have two basic facts:

  • The ‘rational’ economics of self-interest leads to violent resource-grabbing without fear of judgment or repercussion.

  • Our current economy is grounded in 18th century rational economics.

These economic principles were established 300 years ago, when teenage brides embroidered linens by hand for husbands they had never met.

Weddings are no longer about trading daughters for donkeys. So why are we basing 21st century economics on 17th century ideas?

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We are already living in the quantum age. So it’s time for us to all understand quantum theory, and how it applies to our world.

Traditional economic models are based on classic Newtonian physics, which are also from…you guessed it! The 17th and 18th century.

What goes up, comes down. One force is opposite the other. Ordered, rational, predictable. That works when it’s just farmers trading, or one guy watching an apple fall. It doesn’t work anymore.

Our world today is so fundamentally complex, so deeply intertwined, that a simple equation can’t possibly describe it — let alone predict it. In our world, an apple might fall, or it might be sold in a package of subprime loans on the way down, and be a debt vehicle by the time it hits the ground. Apples aren’t just apples anymore. Houses aren’t just houses. Every part of our economy is a minuscule piece of a writhing, twisting, unknowable mass of probabilities intersecting in unprecedented ways.

See? Now we are talking quantum! I told you we’d get there.

Quantum mechanics, in simplest terms, tells us that our choices, actions, and thoughts are intertwined.

In classical theory, a particle is a particle. Simple.

In quantum theory, a particle might be a particle, or it might be a wave, and it might exist in two places at once, and it’s interconnected with all the other particles it has ever interacted with.

An apple is not an apple. An apple is a digital transaction, it’s a capital asset, it’s a snack, it’s all of these things at once, and it’s really none of them also.

Plus, quantum mechanics tells us that the apple is interconnected with everything it encountered along the way: the picker sweating in the afternoon heat, and the refrigerated truck, and the banker that funded the farm, and the homes that bank foreclosed on so that they could invest in things like quantum apples.

At any given moment, the observer is the only one that knows what the apple is. If you see it at a store and decide to make a pie, it’s an tart fruit that tastes good with cinnamon. But at the same exact time, that apple is also a micro-transaction on some PE firm’s balance sheet.

Quantum entanglement tells us that a particle is connected to every other particle it has ever interacted with.

The apple is entangled in a web of incentives that constantly change, as billions of actors make billions of decisions, and those energetic interactions radiate consequences in every direction.

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Now let’s talk about the economy. Also, if you made it this far, let’s be friends.

Remember, everything is more than one thing, in more than one place, at more than one time, observed and defined by more than one participant. This isn’t a fairy tale — it’s science, real science, as documented by real microscopes.

If that’s so, then how can any one action pertain to only one person’s self-interest? In an interconnected universe, how can any one choice stand alone?

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We are starting to understand — very slowly — that economics isn’t as black and white as Adam Smith would have had us believe.

Behavioral economics took the world by storm in the early 2000s. Dan Ariely’s book “Predictably Irrational,” Stephen Dubner and Steve Levitt’s “Freakonomics” and other books made their way through the talk shows. They introduced us to a simple truth: humans are irrational. Shocker.

Again, this is science. It’s documented. Studied. Peer-reviewed. Certified. We know intrinsically that we are irrational. You know this. I know it. Every time you eat ice cream knowing. you are lactose intolerant…every time you go to bed without flossing…every time you watch a scary movie before bed…you are being irrational. You know that it’s in your best interest to avoid lactose, or floss, or calm your mind before bed. You have the data — and you do it anyways.

Poor Adam Smith. Does it hurt to be so wrong, bro? Newsflash — irrational behavior is one of the most human things about humans.

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Here’s the problem at the bottom of all of this: our systems are still designed based on the absurd principles of 18th century rational economics.

When a company decides to move manufacturing offshore to a place with cheap labor. It’s a rational decision — just following the balance sheet, right? It’s just business.

But is it just business if the workers have to eat food with worms in it, or have to use toilets without running water? Is it just business if they get sick, and their families suffer?

Is it just business when your investments back war crimes?

Is it just business when your operation poisons a river, which kills the fish, which kills the bears, which causes the deer to overpopulate, which causes the destruction of local plant life, which causes wildfires that decimate entire neighborhoods in moments?

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These are hypothetical questions. Of course it’s not “just business”. It is business, sure, but it is also violent exploitation, generational trauma, irreversible ecological damage, and reckless endangerment.

It’s quantum. It’s many things at once.

We all know this is true. I know quantum is abstract stuff. But we know that we are connected. We know in our souls that this ‘rational’ framework has created a world of injustice and suffering.

When we imagine a world connecting and healing, we are imagining a quantum future. Quantum economics describes a world of infinite possibilities made real by interconnected actors whose choices affect each other.

Rational economics describes a world where some move according to self-interest, and the rest of us deal with the consequences.

Adam Smith is long dead. May his economics die too.


Nicole Fichera

Nicole is an innovation + architecture + futurism professional with over a decade of experience leading transformational initiatives.