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?

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.

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.

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).

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

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)

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)

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.

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.

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…

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


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?

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The Singularity, and Creativity vs Procrastination

Quick update on the Singularity (before the actual post on creativity):

[Length: 971 words]

It has since long been established that unenhanced humans, “originals”, can’t see beyond a certain point of technological progress (The Singularity). Enhanced humans, “metas”, however, can. It has recently come to my knowledge that there is a second singularity further down the road which evades even meta-human analysis.

Read more in the super creative David Simpson‘s (Post-Human, The God Killers) new book “Dawn Of The Singularity“. No affiliate, just a good personal recommendation.

In other news, dogs are doing just fine despite widespread joblessness in their species. As long as we humans are house trained, I’m sure robots will keep us as pets and treat us pretty well too.

My rescue dog, Ronja


Executive summary: This is another of my “sprezza shorts”, just a brief summary of a simple idea regarding creativity and procrastination.

In this case it’s about how (moderate) procrastination is good for creativity.

I think all the findings apply to analysts and investors as well: Try out a lot of ideas quickly, i.e. just start, but be a bit slow to finish your research and follow through with the actual investment. Dare to invest in the unconventional or unloved, but be quick to realize when you’re wrong.

Insights into creativity

In a TED talk from April 1, 2016 by Adam Grant, the following findings were presented:

Precrastinators (the opposite of procrastinators) are usually not very creative, probably due to the fact that they rush in and finish their projects right away, panicking today about deadlines four months hence :). They don’t give their brains enough time to think about the task.

Pathological procrastinators on the other hand never get anything done, so the question about their creativity is just moot.

It turns out the most creative people are moderate procrastinators. They put off finishing a project, a paper, writing a speech etc. just long enough to give the subconscious a chance to think thoroughly about the task.

So, don’t chastise yourself for starting projects and putting them off until the last moment. That’s a hallmark of creative people.

When researching stocks to invest in, I think going slow and being patient is the most important skill you can have. Go ahead and start researching as many stocks as you like; then hold back a little before finalizing your models and your thinking, not least the actual investment.

Challenge defaults: Think and walk at least a little outside the box; challenge rules, where do they come from, who do they serve? Adam Grant says that if you’re still using Internet Explorer or Safari as your web browser you might be a lost cause…

All value investors are good at this. They dare to question “truths” about broken companies and business models, and buy when there’s blood in the streets.

Do many things, be wrong, try again; its not you, its the project, the process, the attempt, “everybody fails at first”. The most creative people simply try many more things and thus widen their range of “production”. A few projects in the right tail then turn out to be unusual hits.

Grant exemplifies with Bach, Beethoven and Mozart, who were extremely prolific composers with a few works of genius.

Finally, Grant talks about “improvers” or second/last  movers, as opposed to first movers. I don’t know what kind of data he is referring to, but I do buy his argument that it’s easier to take a given idea and improve it than to create it from scratch. Think about Facebook and Google for example, which were both very late to the game. Or Tesla.

This principle is perhaps a bit harder to apply to investing, but do try anyway. Look at what people are buying and then make your own research. There was plenty of time to research Fingerprint Cards, e.g., after it became the talk of the town.

Why not just borrow other people’s research methods and improve on those? Take the quattro portfolio strategy and improve the composition, weighting and timing rules. Use Hussman’s ideas about valuation and market internals but use other variables and time periods, and so on.

Summary: Blame it on the rain

In life, work and investments (and other areas) be quick to start but slow to finish, in order to let your subconscious take a long hard look a the problem, before you do anything rash.

Use and improve on other people’s methods.

either you get this reference (born in the 70s) or you don’t

The most creative people simply try more things than other people (and fail at and quit more things). Blame it on the rain, not your person or worth. Dare to be wrong often.

Assume others are wrong; challenge defaults. Obeying (all) rules won’t get you anywhere. You don’t wait for a green light (as a pedestrian) if the street is empty, do you?

You’re not using Internet Explorer, are you? Right, so why obey other stupid rules?*

*except for the fact that orders have been shown to shut down certain brain areas, and thus stop you from questioning the motive, morality, authority and logic of the order.

Now, the only rule here is that if you read the entire article you have to share it with somebody (preferably your entire social network). or, if you are new here, subscribe to my free newsletter and download my free e-book about my time as partner and portfolio manager at the European Hedge Fund Of The Decade.


Other articles by me about robots, AI, job destruction, programming etc.:

Career guide

Deep work and robotics

Future careers; big 5 vs. big 5

Job destruction

AI and the Singularity

Embracing procrastination