Peter Diamandis talks extensively about the difference between linear returns - e.g. selling your time by the hour - and accelerating returns - e.g. selling your knowledge-based product over and over.
Why does anyone sell their time directly rather than the productized version? The answer is risk. It's the risk (and sometimes asymmetric information) related to the ambiguity about what the outcomes will be, risk that is offloaded by an employee making a steady income and shouldered by an owner of financial capital.
Once productized, the time becomes almost tangible - has a name, a logo, a color, brand, and maybe some patents to its name. As the once generic-seeming time becomes more distinctive, it takes on the weight of brand identity - the value it has created in the past, the pricing and "packaging" from which you can infer value to be expected, the case studies and references that bolster credibility. And critically, the value of that product can be tracked in a way that is much harder to do with time. We've created this artificial construct of intellectual property rights but it doesn't apply to most of the things that we do with our time, because most of the things we do are not new, distinctive, and substantive.
What if it didn't have to be substantive? What if individuals could make little product "bubbles" that were each unique, and we could charge micropayments for each bubble? A cent, a fraction of a bitcoin. For a sketch, a contract, a project management template, slide, few lines of code. We would need an ultra low-friction system that could take in product bubbles, assess distinctiveness, dynamically price, credibly convey needs-relevant characteristics, take micropayments, and pop out a useful bubble ready for consumption. The bubbles don't have to be small but a system that can handle small bubbles will allocate value more efficiently even for large platforms.
Perhaps there will one day be a time where we are all born into this world as equals, with no claim on natural resources or financial capital, and we make our way in the world by creating value for others with our time. We may begin our lives in debt to society but we gradually pay that debt down as we grow into adulthood and productivity. There will be new opportunities to take our individual identities and passions, productize our time, and use it to buy into the limited liability partnership we call society - at full value. Sounds somewhat communist but nothing could be more choice-driven.
Unfortunately, accelerating returns are only achieved with sources of value that are better and scalable, and probably digital. Your barber will benefit in absolute terms from greater general efficiency and growth (e.g. cheaper and higher-quality goods, greater safety, access to information), but will fall further behind on a relative basis. This is fundamentally why income inequality is increasing - it's because of the ability of educated individuals to create scalable value that accrues to more people. If you cut the income inequality data and look closely, it is returns to education that is driving the inequality dynamic. And while there's been a lot of hoopla and advice about getting a "real-life education," 88% of software developers have a college degree in contrast to a third of young Americans aged 25-29.
So many barriers - education, information, systems, culture, currency, and so on. But as Alan Kay once said, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."