Beginning in the 21st century, the center of production moved from large corporations to individuals and tightly organized groups, the latter eventually being called gerens. As three-dimensional printers developed, the word eventually came to subsume replicator, as limits on their capabilities and civilian chemical synthesis dropped.
Civilian and other 'open source' designs began competing with commercial ones in various arenas, and more and more people became capable of producing hard goods of all sorts - from tools to computers. Many large conglomerates simply collapsed - how can you compete when any individual can easily produce and recycle your entire product offering? A few items remained scarce, or at least semi-scarce - food, lumber, and other organics were key examples, and their relative price would soar outside the Americas by the start of the 22nd century. This, actually, is what precipitated the move to arcologies - land was valuable, more importantly fertile land.
Some other corporations sought to control vast swaths of intellectual property, to the point where some even tried to claim rights on categories of ideas - 'mystery' would be a license as if it were a form of public airwave. These maneuvers were forged on increasingly shaky ground, and the Martian Compact had no place for them. Before the Martian Conflict, seven of the largest corporations saw their ultimate fate, and threw in their lot with Mars over Earth. What was left after the rise of the Solar Consortium was a slim, efficient system with comparatively staggering productive capacities, with seemingly infinite room for growth.
Technically, humanity reached type II on the Kardashev scale during the 23rd century, scant decades after it reached type I, rapidly building a Dyson swarm around Sol. The discovery of mobius patterns and the Contact War led many to consider the Kardashev scale to be rather arbitrary, and instead used to an Order Of Magnitude-Efficiency scale (OOME scale) instead. Before the Purge, mankind would be rated at 27-S on such a scale, with Sirius producing half of the energy allotment.
A sort of 'republican' system was designed wherein major, desired projects took up the vast swath of resources - at least by those desiring to use them. Megastructures like the Clarke rings, exploration and colonization of nearby star systems via the Missions, and the terraforming of Venus are only a few examples. Those not of the content were given an energy allotment, and could either throw their weight in with an extant development or try to convince others to support theirs. This also created rogue developments such as Ouranos Prime.
The Anti-Homogenization Act put a mild damper on human expansion, intended to guarantee that future generations would be able to capitalize on the wealth of the previous. This, combined with the above, serves as a basic model for most systems controlled or influenced by any cerevate race - not just humanity. This includes the Concorde and the Triad, though these more primitive empires still have a rigid caste structure dominating and limiting them. The production capabilities of nearly any star system are immense by 21st-century standards, though not entirely incomprehensible.
With the atomic age so far gone, few isotopes are truly 'scarce'. Although changing one element into another is not exactly child's play, it is sufficiently common that the most extreme examples are energy-cost dominated - the price of hawkinium, for example, is almost entirely based on the amount of energy used in its production.
Although not 'truly scarce', the pervasiveness of fusion among the populace has caused deuterium to be the standard currency. Class B mobius patterns are also traded frequently, as is mirror matter. These three resources form the basis of trade, and most things can be traced back to these initial costs.
Humans and the Concorde trade deuterium on the gram, often called the credit, while renlai trade on a unit called the angse, which masses approximately 30 grams. An older, human unit (before the Purge) was the sol, representing 90 megajoules - or one migrogram of energy. The First predominately use the renlai system, and through them so do the Triad. When sold, mirror matter is usually traded on the kilogram - or 'thousandlot'. Its price is closely related to that of deuterium, by mass. Hadronium items will command between thirty and ten thousand times this price, reflecting the immense amounts of power needed for their construction, and the advanced equipment needed to produce them.
In terms of productive capacity, a gram-credit represents about seven thousand US dollars worth of energy in 2007 terms, and can be considered roughly equal to that level of wealth in raw materials. Rare isotopes, like gold, and extremely complex processes that require extant territory like organic foods and such are considerably more valuable.
Patterns were priceless during the Diaspora, as humans would not willingly part with any of them, and would voraciously hunt down any that fell into alien hands, including infusions from soronen relics. The First and renlai are similarly greedy regarding such objects, and infusions and wraiths still remain nearly priceless commodities, along with hypomatter - they may be traded, but only for another item of similarly priceless value. Class B patterns are another story, as they grew and bred by the trillion, they have become rather difficult to control. As such, they are occasionally sold, commanding a price commiserate with being a key to infinite wealth.
While deuterium typically cannot be used for such a purchase, usually they are used to commission a rather advanced piece of exomatter, such as a starship, which would have such a raw cost, typically over ten trillion tonnes worth. This sort of immense currency trade also governs things like planets - Earth would be worth around 25 patterns, ignoring any other value it possessed.
Amongst the Triad, most labor is done by lower castes, though since the Diaspora some have come to accept robotic labor. The more advanced civilizations use non-Sapient robots to perform most menial tasks outside of hobbies. In fact, for such organizations, sapients are often only used when someone needs to be responsible for something. This excess luxury divides the content and the gerentry.
What remains - at least among the gerents - is goal setting and those various tasks such beings set to challenge themselves with. These are many, varied, and of countless levels - not being in total control of one's environment is an important factor in staving off solipsism.
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