Predicting the future, one small step at a time – for happiness, relevance, work and investments

Summary: I’m not writing about, or predicting, the future, I’m asking you to do it, mostly as a brain exercise, forcing you to actually think

Length: very short


So, you doubt the Singularity* will happen?

[* the technological Singularity, when one generation of tech improves the next generation in such a rapid pace that normal humans can’t keep up]

Then, why not make your own prediction.

Start with one technology or piece of hardware or software you’re familiar with. A cellphone, e.g., or glasses, TV, internet, cars… Extrapolate what that tech will look like in the future. Never mind how far into the future. Take it one step at a time and imagine what the next iteration will look like, and the next, and the next. Again, disregard the time aspect, and focus on the generations. Don’t forget to take into account that whatever that piece of tech turns into with enough iterations, it can be used as a tool for improving and accelerating other tech areas.


Where do cell phones get you in a hundred significant iterations? Computers? How big, how fast, how competent? Where do they go, how are they powered?

Keep doing that for cars, planes, space ships, contact lenses, software, computer games and movies, 3D glasses, brain implants, artificial agents and so on.


You might not be an expert in any of these fields, but consider what an AI can do in the future if it’s already mastered Chess, Jeopardy, Go and Poker. Where does Crispr-Cas9 gene editing take us in a hundred iterations? Robots are currently stumbling around in Alphabet’s labs, but what will they be doing in a thousand years?

When, if ever, e.g., will a team of robots beat the best team of soccer or american football players? In 2050? Sooner? Later? Never?


Do your best at imagining the future piece by piece, and please tell me if you see a hard stop anywhere. If not, the Singularity will happen. Sir Martin Rees, a distinguished astronomer, has suggested that genetically and cybernetically enhanced humans/cyborgs on Mars could be the first artificial intelligences.


We can already build simple nanomachines, edit genes and create artificial life. There are brain implants controlling neurodegenerative diseases, there are eye implants making blind see (low res for now, but with Moore’s law it won’t be too long before they can see better than ordinary humans, and a wider spectrum of light).

I see a very bright future, a future where we can widen our intelligence, and live to the fullest. Others see a dystopian scenario of obese and non-thinking human remnants merely being tolerated by the only intelligent life on earth, AIs. Yet others see nothing at all, since we’ll soon destroy the Earth before being able to leave.


Where do you see yourself in a world of AI and AR?

While you’re at it, where do you see yourself in that future? Not just the end game, but the transitional period in getting there. How will you and your children create a rich and meaningful existence in the coming 25-50 years?

  • How will you educate yourself?
  • What will you work with?
  • How do you plan your investments?
    • Stocks?
    • Bonds?
    • Gold?
    • Real estate?
    • Crypto currencies such as Bitcoin?
  • What will governments look like?
  • How will laws evolve?

Where’s your worth when power shifts from governments to tech giants, when cryptocurrencies make current tax regimes impossible to enforce? How do you plan to stay relevant in the future, a future where technology might be able to do everything you can do… for free?

Making a career in a future of abundance and increasing inequalities

Is free energy something you might be interested in?

Energy will soon be freely available, as I told the “Shark” and the “Onion” – two Swedish daytraders – yesterday. And when energy is free so will everything else be.

How will we live, educate us, work, invest?

interest

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning.


Power is all around us

-and we have already begun to capture it

A couple of hour’s worth of sunlight energy falling on the earth is worth about a year of global energy consumption. In short, it’s enough, and it’s basically everywhere.

If we build enough solar cells, some of the energy collected could be used for the construction of an automatic cleaning and maintenance system for the energy infrastructure.

That would give us free electricity.

Read it again if you didn’t understand.

moth-eye-solar-panels

Yes, I’m aware of the challenges in terms of making new kinds of efficient and sustainable, “green” solar cells, as well as making enough of them and designing a fully automated maintenance system. Just give it time. 


There will be robots

-a myriad of robots of all sizes, taking care of us and each other

Then use the surplus energy created to power some robots to add more solar cells and build more robots. Voilà, we essentially have created a free labor force of solar powered robots.

Sure, we’ll need better robots, autonomous vehicles, robots being able to build robots, better solar cells etc., but we are getting there.

No matter what the elite wants, it won’t take long until everybody has his own solar cells and robots, or access to a pool of such resources. When? I don’t know, but very probably within half a century.

nanoporegraphene

Once energy and labor are free, so will water (large scale desalination is only a matter of energy input), food (robot-tended vertical farms with artificial light [reverse solar cells]), shelter (as if I need explain how solar powered robots can collect any material and build/3D-print any type of structure according to open source specifications on the internet (10 houses in 24 hours), transportation (vehicles are robots and thus free as shown above; cars, planes, ships and roads will be powered, built, driven and maintained automatically in much the same way as everything else) and communication (the easiest task of all in the scenario of free energy).

robot


There will be no blood

-in the meantime however, artificial blood, made from skin cells, is saving the day starting by the end of this decade

artificial-blood

The only urgent challenge remaining will be death, and its cousin, disease.

The good thing is, with everything else free; every intelligent man, woman and child will be free to think, collaborate and barter, in order to develop the technologies necessary to prevent aging and illness.

Scientists are already chipping away at the longevity problem piece by piece. They are increasingly referring to the idea of immortality as an eventually curable disease, rather than an inevitable law of nature.

Craig Venter and Peter Diamandis have, e.g., formed the company Human Longevity, Inc. in March 2014, aiming to use big data on tens of thousands av sequenced genomes to combat cancer and extend healthy human lifespan.

The trick is to live long enough to live forever, helped by the following technologies:

Nanotech robots (this year’s Nobel Prize, in line with Drexler’s and Feynman’s pioneering ideas)

molecular-robot

Genetic research (aided by the Crispr-Cas9 would-be Nobel winner, not to mention Craig Venter’s work on synthetic biology/life)

Artificial intelligence (If there were a Nobel prize for computer research: IBM’s and Google’s realizations of machine learning, and Kurzweil’s ideas about hierarchical hidden Markov models. Perhaps in the future, one of the efforts to map the human brain connectome will result in a Nobel prize in physiology or medicine)

connectome


Immortality for the rich

-solar powered robots, VR and material riches for the poor

The battle for immortality will most likely be a tough one. And only for the elite for decades to come.

The rest of us will spend our time in luxurious mansions, dining like kings and living it up every day on 3D printed designer drugs with no hangovers, or being super-humans, or as depraved as our darkest desires allow, in the virtual world of our choice. Still slowly dying though; never forget.

never-forget

The more creative of us could spend our days creating and sharing, both in the material world and in the virtual ones.

How we will share and trade with each other? Perhaps there will be a currency like Bitcoin, perhaps millions of digital currencies. Perhaps digital agents will negotiate ad hoc services barter deals for everything without any kind of currency.

For an early example see how the excellent Real Vision TV production is bartering reruns, ‘encores’, for ad spots at the equally excellent podcast show Macro Voices.

Who knows? The idea here, however, is that your worth and potential for an above average existence will be decided based on your ability to create unique solutions/blueprints that can be traded for other unique services.

If you can’t… Tough luck*, you’ll just have to do with whatever you can produce with the help of free labor, free energy and free open-source templates for material and virtual assets.

* not so tough after all; I imagine the bodily and mental pleasures freely available will be unimaginable to the present day human. A pretty nice upgrade from the Roman strategy of Bread And Circuses, after all.

 


Deprived, not necessarily depraved

Now, this is not what I intended to write about today

What I meant to discuss was all the things modern society has deprived us* of and how that risk making us weak, allergic, depressed, ill, apathetic, catatonic and miserable. What’s worse is that we have replaced walking with sitting, beans with bacon, natural weather with AC, sunlight with artificial light, bacteria and viruses with sterile environments etc.

sitting

Unfortunately it turns out all that comfort we are constantly seeking is an evolutionary mismatch of homeostasis. For example, if the immune system has nothing to do, due to a lack of pathogens in the environment, it sometimes attacks the body instead.

* such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, extreme temperatures, fright, loneliness, walking, sad music (what?!! See pic below) and calm meditation

I didn’t find enough time to deal with the issues of education, work and investments either, although the general direction should be clear from the above discussion: Automation, Robots, AI, Energy

Oh, well, I’ll just have to leave it for another day. Perhaps later this week…

sad-music


For today, let’s keep with the Everything Is Awesome theme.


Summary

Energy will be essentially free in a few decades

Consequently all other material needs will be satisfied without cost: food, water, shelter, transportation, communication. Every individual will thus finally be able to live independently in material abundance “Every man is an island“).

So, is free energy something you might be interested in?

interest-2


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Death of jobs: leverage and accelerated automation

Topic: high leverage and faster pace of automation make it exponentially more difficult to re-train enough people for new jobs

Solution: Buy Google and gold (many more companies in my newsletter)

Length: very short (a few minutes’ read)


Executive summary: Low interest rates and technological progress accelerate the ongoing process of automation, leaving more people needing -but less time for- re-training.

Low interest rates also mean more indebted consumers and governments, and thus less money for re-training the increasing hordes whose jobs are being automated away.

Swedish: Plus en länk till en paneldebatt i Lendifys och Börspoddens regi, om nya investeringsmöjligheter


Leverage and Machines are at the heart of the issue

low interest rates make capital relatively cheaper than labour 

investments in automation have picked up speed due to

  1. accelerating technological development (“Moore’s law”, or, rather Kurzweil’s Law Of Accelerating Returns) is pushing technology over the threshold needed to replace humans in many areas in short order, thus attracting more investments
  2. low interest rates make investments in technology even more attractive

Thus, automation is proceeding faster and in more industries simultaneously than ever before, leaving more people than ever (at best) between jobs.

Low interest rates have fueled the build-up of debt among governments and private individuals. Despite lip service to deleveraging since 2008, debts are much higher today than at the “peak” 8 years ago, leaving less room for debt-financed re-training for new jobs. 


Leverage => more machines, more debt => less jobs, less re-training buffer

The same forces that make automation investments more attractive and all the more people lose their jobs to machines, also work to make it more difficult for people to be able to finance re-training (one, because they are already over their heads in debt*; two, it’s happening faster and in more industries at the same time than before, leaving less time to re-train)

* Earlier, people hadn’t maxed out on credit card loans, auto loans, mortgages and student loans, which meant the few who lost their jobs to machines had some leeway in time and money to re-train for new employment.

Now, more people are automated away at the same time and they have more leverage and thus no economic room for time off or investing in re-training.


Goldman Sach’s take on the subject in a recent podcast of theirs called for new ways of financing re-training, including re-purposing (expropriating?) pension money. I, however, think that ship has already sailed.

So, what to do?

My 2 cents: Make sure you own assets that benefit from the changes, since I expect it to get really ugly first, in a way money printing can’t mitigate, before it gets better and we can approach the Star Trek ideal of no money.

The Sprezza (and Star Trek) credo

The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives.

We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity

You could, e.g., buy stock in automation companies of all kinds (robotics, software etc., including a few dozen companies on the list in my next subscriber letter). You could also buy assets that benefit from low or negative interest rates, increasing debt levels and a possible monetary re-set.

Google, IBM and gold spring to mind.

gold for consumption

palatable?

Please note, however, that I do think it’s a little early to start preparing for a complete collapse just yet.


Links to previous articles on technology and jobs:

how tech steals your job, one

how tech steals your job, two

three about robotics

future careers

and Dutch disease


If you speak Swedish, check out this free investing seminar, with me and Ann Grevelius, in Stockholm on October 25, 2016.

Redan efter ett dygn är hälften av platserna slut så bestäm dig snabbt. OSA 20 oktober. Här är länken till fri dryck och tilltugg samt paneldiskussion om framtidens investeringsmöjligheter.

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