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I have pondered a setting/society where people have access to advanced technology (for one example, food replicators), but either have to work to earn or trade to obtain the power needed to operate it. Are there any obvious (or not-so obvious) advantages/drawbacks to such a system? Could there be a way for people on equal social strata to "exchange" energy between each other?

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Energy Tokens

You would have tokens (possibly represented digitally, possibly physically) that would represent a standard unit of energy. A person's labour would be worth a certain amount of energy tokens, moreso if it was specialized labour that couldn't be performed by machines and took training (and commensurate investment of energy tokens) to do.

People with many of these energy tokens might lend them to those who needed them, in exchange for a small fee, proportionate to the amount lent. Eventually, some people with a great many tokens wouldn't need to work at all, living on the proceeds from their vast number of tokens.

I am being tongue-in-cheek here - currency is energy exchange. This is how currency originally came into being - rather than barter, people exchange tokens representative of the work that they did, and those tokens were generally accepted to be universally representative of that work. That this is backed by actual use of energy is no different. Since energy is readily available, your only real problem will be inflation.

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  • $\begingroup$ I should note that if there isn't a central authority adjusting what energy tokens are worth, one person with a replicator could pave a desert with solar panels and crash the market. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Sep 1, 2022 at 1:48
  • $\begingroup$ Why use energy tokens when you can exchange actual energy in handy little solid-form packages much like ordinary coins? Diamonds, aka extremely compact carbon, can be burned (if you've a hot enough fire to start with) to release the energy it represents, carry a pocketful of those 😁 $\endgroup$
    – Pelinore
    Sep 1, 2022 at 3:39

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