In a video posted to Kurzweil’s Singularity University Youtube account, the Google-employed futurist talks about how technology has already started to merge the world into a single, global culture.
He predicts that we’ve already passed the tipping point for the power of individual countries as the internet and international news spread to impact the planet as one. As this merging of culture, finance, and technology continue the face of the world is changing to be less focused on individual countries, he says. Perhaps, if singularity predictions turn out to be true, we’ll all be sharing a collective mind anyway.
“You can argue, and some people have, that the nation state has ended as we knew it, 20-30 years ago, pre-internet,” Kurzweil says to open the video. He points out that before the internet things like culture, finance, and news was pretty limited to a single country. When international news was reported it happens through a national paper. That isn’t true today, he says.
Something like a pension crisis in Italy has a major impact on the world economy, Kurzweil points out. And things like manufacturing or app development isn’t limited to a single country, but elements are made all over the world.
“It used to be like a century ago that the nation state was quite supreme, and things really were controlled within nations,” says Kurzweil. “We are very much becoming one world society.”
This doesn’t mean that national tensions no longer exist, or that we have moved beyond using nationality to define ourselves. But looking at today compared to 30 years or 100 years ago, Kurzweil thinks that these differences have already started to go away.
“We’re building up a world culture, a world legal system. Nations continue to be powerful, but I think they’re going to continue to get less influential,” Kurzweil says.
One of Kurzweil’s most famous predictions is for the singularity, which is when people will merge consciousness with artificial intelligence that has superhuman abilities. He has suggested that the singularity will happen in 2045. At that point, if people across the world have all merged minds with AI, it’s likely our understanding of nations will change entirely again.
We reported (04/06/2017) prior to the UK General Election 2017:
There is a minor risk of a hung parliament where, like 2010, the new government may have to collaborate to hold office. This would make managing the Brexit process untenable. The loss of political and economic confidence that would ensue would bring chaos to the UK. Should there be an outright victory to Labor, we would see a reversion to the 1950/70’s style politics that would also be a disaster.
Little did we realize how close to the mark we would be. PM May’s electoral disaster has profound repercussions for the UK. Firstly Brexit becomes a challenge at the negotiation table because of the weakened hand PM May presents to the EU. Secondly, Jeremy Corbyn’s success at the polls will force the Conservatives to move to the centre-left of UK politics to capture Corbyn’s new found friends – the 18-34 year demographic that has recently discovered politics and utopian self-interest.
This is a disaster for the UK and will not end well. May’s leadership will be under constant challenge for the next 5 years. One of her few chances of success depends on being able to negotiate a quick exit from the EU. This is unlikely.
As has happened in Australia in 2016, the UK and with a 9% confidence level in US Congress reflecting the rising distrust voters have for politicians. This is a trend that will continue around the world for the foreseeable future. The unintended consequence of voter distrust however is that political confidence begins to fail and economic confidence collapses soon after.
In the United States the Democratic – Republican flash point continues to escalate. President Trump is beginning to claw back a few points against the “Deep State” influence working inside government. Investigations are building cases on leaks and corruption. Trump is slowly gaining momentum with his agenda despite the continual challenge of the left agenda.
Unfortunately the first directly attributable acts of violence have occurred with a Republican Congressman and two police officers wounded at an annual practice baseball session for Congress politicians. The use of violence in political discourse is inherently evil itself and not in keeping with the liberal-democratic tradition that has benefited humanity. Since 2015 we have witnessed an increasing breakdown of civil discourse – a cornerstone of a free society. This marks the first violence of the civil strife we predict emerging in the US. We anticipate this will continue to escalate over the next few years. It will not end well and directly reflects the internal divisions that continue to rent US civil society.
At the same time we move slowly towards The End of the Long Game, the last gasp of the “Industrial Revolution Cycle” that commenced in 1783. We still view the September 2017 – March 2018 time window as the time for that final top, to be followed by the downward phase of the cycle. As always rebirth follows endings and the advance of humanity continues.
This worsening political discord in the US and other liberal democratic countries merely reflect the changing cycle mentioned previously. Given the magnitude of the cycle involved – one that builds and destroys empires, we can glimpse directly at the political and economic forces shaping events and the changes to come.
The pendulum of government overreach has peaked in most liberal democratic countries around the world (for now). The major political events of 2016 have shown increasing resistance to government given the rising number of breaches in civil liberties and failure of government to identify and respond to the disenfranchised members of their societies.
Many segments of society have felt themselves becoming impoverishment. At the same time they have watched the hubris, greed and failure of politicians to deliver solutions to resolve the various politically made crises. One of the recurring questions that will emerge is the role of government in the lives of people.
By the time politicians’ hubris has completely evaporated, the nature of liberal democratic countries will have changed. We see major risk of political, economic and social upheaval occurring between now and 2028-2033 This phase may extend before social, political and economic stability becomes the norm. As always the pendulum will one day swing again towards increasing government involvement in the lives and affairs of ordinary people.
All the elements are in place for a political meltdown with the coming election. The circumstances of this election are very similar to the Brexit vote that caused an earthquake.
There is a large disenfranchised portion of the US electorate.
Establishment seeks to maintain the status quo.
Widespread disgust at both presidential candidates.
Media is holding a heavily biased standpoint on the outcome of the election result.
Financial markets are coiling in preparation for a large move based on the result.
Fears of vote rigging, mudslinging by both candidates, the focus is on personalities rather than issues leaving a gridlocked political system.
Most of these points were present in the Brexit vote.
The underlying social mood is one pointing to a political meltdown. If Trump wins, Democrats have rumored to be plotting some sort of nullification of the election result. It is also unacceptable to the establishment that Trump would win as he has threatened to tear down the status quo. If Clinton wins, all the corruption scandals will be brought before the courts and her presidency will be mired by political, legal & criminal scandals.
The social environment is volatile and ripe for serious political disruption as people seek to express the powerful social mood that has been building for several years. We consider the election will serve as the catalyst for the start for a political meltdown lasting many years. Following in quick attendance will be the subsequent loss of economic confidence.
We still predict a spike to the upside following the election – being the last gasp of the stock markets. This will be followed in 2017 by a surge in inflation and a devastating shift in US interest rates.
All of this is characteristic of a major top that is forming in economic, social and political terms. It is akin to the rise and peak of an empire. We are witnessing a major turning point in history and a completion of a long term cycle of human endeavor. This is covered in our main article theme the End of the Long Game 2009 -2018.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reveals what he thinks will be the future of humanity when we eventually colonize space. He talks about a plan for colonizing our solar system with nuclear reactors in space, populations in the millions, and more.
While Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the public face of the private space industry, there are other major players trying to bring humanity closer to the stars. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has been working on its own rocket technologies, and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has been revealing more on the work they’re doing over at Blue Origin.
The previously secretive Blue Origin has been announcing more of its milestones in its space ambitions. It successfully landed the same rocket four times in a row, with the end goal of reusable rockets that will lower space travel costs.
The company has unveiled its own rocket, the “New Glenn,” which dwarfs any of the rockets being developed today. Bezos announced that the Glenn will be ferrying astronauts by the end of the decade.
Along with the engineering developments Blue Origin has announced, Bezos has also shared his predictions on human colonization of space, in an interview with The Washington Post.
Human colonization of space
In the interview, Bezos sees humans spreading out across the Solar System. He envisions “millions of people working and living in space.” But to do this, Bezos notes that we will have to figure out how to extract and manage the resources we can get from space, since Earth alone won’t be able to provide the materials for space colonization.
Bezos also says we will have to figure out how to harness nuclear technology in space, citing it as a viable alternative to solar power that will dim out as you move farther from the Sun. In fact, moving out into space would not just be a dream, but an imperative. We will have to move heavy industry outside of Earth, in order to preserve it. He envisions the Earth being “zoned” as residential and light industrial.
But does he think we will see space colonization in our lifetime? “Not in the near term… Eventually Mars might be amazing. But that’s a long way in the future.”
How many things do we own, that are common today, that didn’t exist 10 years ago? The list is probably longer than you think.
Prior to the iPhone coming out in 2007, we didn’t have smartphones with mobile apps, decent phone cameras for photos/videos, mobile maps, mobile weather, or even mobile shopping.
None of the mobile apps we use today existed 10 years ago: Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, Facetime, LinkedIn, Lyft, Whatsapp, Netflix, Pandora, or Pokemon Go.
Several major companies didn’t exist a decade ago. Airbnb, Tinder, Fitbit, Spotify, Dropbox, Quora, Tumblr, Kickstarter, Hulu, Pinterest, Buzzfeed, Indigogo, Udacity, or Jet.com just to name a few.
Ten years ago very few people were talking about crowdfunding, the sharing economy, social media marketing, search engine optimization, app developers, cloud storage, data mining, mobile gaming, gesture controls, chatbots, data analytics, virtual reality, 3D printers, or drone delivery.
At the same time we are seeing the decline of many of the things that were in common use 10-20 years ago. Fax machines, wired phones, taxi drivers, newspapers, desktop computers, video cameras, camera film, VCRs, DVD players, record players, typewriters, yellow pages, video rental shops, and printed maps have all seen their industry peak and are facing dwindling markets.
If we leapfrog ahead ten years and take notice of the radically different lives we will be living, we will notice how a few key technologies paved the way for massive new industries.
Here is a glimpse of a stunningly different future that will come into view over the next decade.
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing has already begun to enter our lives in major ways. In the future 3D printers will be even more common than paper printers are today.
1. 3D printed makeup for women. Just insert a person’s face and the machine will be programmed to apply the exact makeup pattern requested by the user.
2. 3D printed replacement teeth, printed inside the mouth.
3. Swarmbot printing systems will be used to produce large buildings and physical structures, working 24/7 until they’re completed.
4. Scan and print custom designed clothing at retail clothing stores.
5. Scan and print custom designed shoes at specialty shoe stores.
6. Expectant mothers will request 3D printed models of their unborn baby.
7. Police departments will produce 3D printed “mug shots” and “shapies” generated from a person’s DNA.
8. Trash that is sorted and cleaned and turned into material that can be 3D printed.
The VR/AR world is set to explode around us as headsets and glasses drop in price so they’re affordable for most consumers. At the same time, game designers and “experience” producers are racing to create the first “killer apps” in this emerging industry.
9. Theme park rides that mix physical rides with VR experiences.
10. Live broadcasts of major league sports games (football, soccer, hockey, and more) in Virtual Reality.
11. Full-length VR movies.
12. Physical and psychological therapy done through VR.
13. Physical drone racing done through VR headsets.
14. VR speed dating sites.
15. For education and training, we will see a growing number of modules done in both virtual and augmented reality.
16. VR and AR tours will be commonly used in the sale of future real estate.
Drones are quickly transitioning from hobbyist toys to sophisticated business tools very quickly. They will touch our lives in thousands of different ways.
17. Fireworks dropped from drones. Our ability to “ignite and drop” fireworks from the sky will dramatically change both how they’re made and the artistry used to display them.
18. Concert swarms that produce a spatial cacophony of sound coming from 1,000 speaker drones simultaneously.
19. Banner-pulling drones. Old school advertising brought closer to earth.
20. Bird frightening drones for crops like sunflowers where birds can destroy an entire field in a matter of hours.
21. Livestock monitoring drones for tracking cows, sheep, geese, and more.
22. Three-dimensional treasure hunts done with drones.
23. Prankster Drones – Send random stuff to random people and video their reactions.
24. Entertainment drones (with projectors) that fly in and perform unusual forms of live comedy and entertainment.
Driverless technology will change transportation more significantly than the invention of the automobile itself.
25. Queuing stations for driverless cars as a replacement for a dwindling number of parking lots.
26. Crash-proof cars. Volvo already says their cars will be crash-proof before 2020.
27. Driverless car hailing apps. Much like signaling Uber and Lyft, only without the drivers.
28. Large fleet ownership of driverless cars (some companies will own millions of driverless cars).
29. Electric cars will routinely win major races like the Daytona 500, Monaco Grand Prix, and the Indy 500.
30. In-car work and entertainment systems to keep people busy and entertained as a driverless car takes them to their destination.
31. In-car advertising. This will be a delicate balance between offsetting the cost of operation and being too annoying for the passengers.
32. Electric car charging in less than 5 minutes.
Internet of Things
The Internet of things is the network of physical devices, vehicles, and buildings embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and actuators designed to communicate with users as well as other devices. We are currently experiencing exponential growth in IoT devices as billions of new ones come online every year.
33. Smart chairs, smart beds, and smart pillows that will self-adjust to minimize pressure points and optimize comfort.
34. Sensor-laced clothing.
35. “Print and Pin” payment systems that uses a biometric mark (fingerprint) plus a pin number.
36. Smart plates, bowls and cups to keep track of what we eat and drink.
37. Smart trashcan that will signal for a trash truck when they’re full.
38. Ownership networks. As we learn to track the location of everything we own, we will also track the changing value of each item to create a complete ownership network.
39. Self-retrieving shoes where you call them by name, through your smartphone, and your shoes will come to you.
40. Smart mailboxes that let you know when mail has arrived and how important it is.
Even though healthcare is a bloated and bureaucratic industry, innovative entrepreneurs are on the verge of disrupting this entire industry.
41. Hyper-personalized precision-based pharmaceuticals produced by 3D pill printers.
42. Ingestible data collectors, filled with sensors, to give a daily internal health scan and report.
43. Prosthetic limbs controlled by AI.
44. Real-time blood scanners.
45. Peer-to-peer health insurance.
46. Facetime-like checkups without needing a doctor’s appointment.
47. Full-body physical health scanners offering instant AI medical diagnosis, located in most pharmacies
48. Intraoral cameras for smartphones for DYI dental checkups.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Much like hot and cold running water, we will soon be able to “pipe-in” artificial intelligence to any existing digital system.
49. Best selling biographies written by artificial intelligence.
50. Legal documents written by artificial intelligence.
51. AI-menu selection, based on diet, for both restaurants and at home.
52. Full body pet scanners with instant AI medical diagnosis.
53. AI selection of movies and television shows based on moods, ratings, and personal preferences.
54. Much like the last item, AI music selection will be based on moods, ratings, and musical tastes.
55. AI sleep-optimizers will control all of the environmental factors – heat, light, sound, oxygen levels, smells, positioning, vibration levels, and more.
56. AI hackers. Sooner or later someone will figure out how to use even our best AI technology for all the wrong purposes.
Future transportation will come in many forms ranging from locomotion on an individual level to ultra high-speed tube transportation on a far grander scale.
57. Unmanned aviation – personal drone transportation.
58. 360-degree video transportation monitoring cameras at most intersections in major cities throughout the world.
59. Everywhere wireless. With highflying solar powered drones, CubeSats, and Google’s Project Loon, wireless Internet connections will soon be everywhere.
60. Black boxes for drones to record information in the event of an accident.
61. Air-breathing hypersonic propulsion for commercial aircraft. Fast is never fast enough.
62. Robotic follow-behind-you luggage, to make airline travel easier.
63. Robotic dog walkers and robotic people walkers.
64. Ultra high-speed tube transportation. As we look closely at the advances over the past couple decades, it’s easy to see that we are on the precipices of a dramatic breakthrough in ultra high-speed transportation. Businesses are demanding it. People are demanding it. And the only thing lacking is a few people capable of mustering the political will to make it happen.
As I began assembling this list, a number of items didn’t fit well in other categories.
65. Bitcoin loans for houses, cars, business equipment and more.
66. Self-filling water bottles with built-in atmospheric water harvesters.
67. Reputation networks. With the proliferation of personal information on websites and in databases throughout the Internet, reputation networks will be designed to monitor, alert, and repair individual reputations.
68. Atmospheric energy harvesters. Our atmosphere is filled with both ambient and concentrated forms of energy ranging from sunlight to lightning bolts that can be both collected and stored.
69. Pet education centers, such as boarding schools for dogs and horses, to improve an animal’s IQ.
70. Robotic bricklayers. With several early prototypes already operational, these will become common over the next decade.
71. Privacy bill of rights. Privacy has become an increasingly complicated topic, but one that is foundational to our existence on planet earth.
There’s a phenomenon called the Peltzman Effect, named after Dr. Sam Peltzman, a renowned professor of economics from the University of Chicago Business School, who studied auto accidents.
He found that when you introduce more safety features like seat belts into cars, the number of fatalities and injuries doesn’t drop. The reason is that people compensate for it. When we have a safety net in place, people will take more risks.
That probably is true with other areas as well.
As life becomes easier, we take risks with our time. As our financial worries are met, we begin thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, inventor, or artist. When life becomes too routine, we search for ways to introduce chaos.
Even though we see reports that billions of jobs will disappear over the coming decades, we will never run out of work.
As humans, we were never meant to live cushy lives of luxury. Without risk and chaos as part of our daily struggle our lives seem unfulfilled. While we work hard to eliminate it, we always manage to find new ways to bring it back.
Yes, we’re working towards a better world ahead, but only marginally better. That’s where we do our best work.
An East Coast blizzard howling, global temperatures peaking, the desert Southwest flooding, drought-stricken California drying up—surely there’s a common thread tying together this “extreme” weather. There is. But it has little to do with what recent headlines have been saying about the hottest year ever. It is called business as usual.
Surface temperatures are indeed increasing slightly: They’ve been going up, in fits and starts, for more than 150 years, or since a miserably cold and pestilential period known as the Little Ice Age. Before carbon dioxide from economic activity could have warmed us up, temperatures rose three-quarters of a degree Fahrenheit between 1910 and World War II. They then cooled down a bit, only to warm again from the mid-1970s to the late ’90s, about the same amount as earlier in the century.
Whether temperatures have warmed much since then depends on what you look at. Until last June, most scientists acknowledged that warming reached a peak in the late 1990s, and since then had plateaued in a “hiatus.” There are about 60 different explanations for this in the refereed literature.
NOAA’s alteration of its measurement standard and other changes produced a result that could have been predicted: a marginally significant warming trend in the data over the past several years, erasing the temperature plateau that vexed climate alarmists have found difficult to explain. Yet the increase remains far below what had been expected.
It is nonetheless true that 2015 shows the highest average surface temperature in the 160-year global history since reliable records started being available, with or without the “hiatus.” But that is also not very surprising. Early in 2015, a massive El Niño broke out. These quasiperiodic reversals of Pacific trade winds and deep-ocean currents are well-documented but poorly understood. They suppress the normally massive upwelling of cold water off South America that spreads across the ocean (and is the reason that Lima may be the most pleasant equatorial city on the planet). The Pacific reversal releases massive amounts of heat, and therefore surface temperature spikes. El Niño years in a warm plateau usually set a global-temperature record. What happened this year also happened with the last big one, in 1998.
Global average surface temperature in 2015 popped up by a bit more than a quarter of a degree Fahrenheit compared with the previous year. In 1998 the temperature rose by slightly less than a quarter-degree from 1997.
Without El Niño, temperatures in 2015 would have been typical of the post-1998 regime. And, even with El Niño, the effect those temperatures had on the global economy was de minimis.
Germany and France have called for the establishment of a central EU authority for the eurozone to raise taxes independently. This plan is part of a package of proposals for far-reaching integration of the single currency zone: the federalization of Europe. Currently, only national governments may levy taxes. This is part of the step to save Europe and then consolidate the debts. This will become a war against the people, shaking them down to save a failed system design from the outset. This is a significant change and the final straw in the Death of Democracy. If such a power is handed to Brussels, they see it as their way to shakedown the Greeks, and the Greeks will see this as their government betraying their own people.
Transferring the power to tax the people to Brussels is significant, for those on the appointed (not elected) commission are not required to follow any vote in the European Parliament. This will remove all representation for taxation of the people’s rights. This is the ultimate power play –taxation without representation. Welcome the coming age ofEconomic Totalitarianism.
In February 2015, Canada legalized physician-assisted dying — a first among countries with common-law systems, in which law is often developed by judges through case decisions and precedent. The Supreme Court of Canada issued the decision in Carter v. Canada
The judgment portends changes outside Canada. Imitation is a feature of the common-law world, and if physician-assisted dying is litigated in England, India, or South Africa, for example, odds are high that judges would draw on the Canadian Court’s reasoning. Societies are also changing, and in coming decades aging populations with growing affluence and incidence of chronic illness will increasingly question the medical and legal orthodoxies regarding the end of life. Given the flow of legal ideas and shifting demographics, change and convergence around physician-assisted dying as a standard of care seem inevitable.
These developments will trouble people who instinctively find legalized physician-assisted dying repellent. But increasingly, society is acknowledging that denying people the right to die with dignity and safety is even more repellent.
Editor’s Note: This is in line with our prediction that euthanasia will become commonplace in liberal-democratic nations around the world. Our prediction remains on track and we should see euthanasia being mainstream by 2025.
Of greater concern is the risk that failing governments will cause a rise in “iatrogenic-induced deaths” as the continued breakdown of societies accelerates.
“Everything that can be decentralized, will be decentralized.” Ronald Bailey is the award-winning science correspondent for Reason magazine and Reason.com
The blockchain is a decentralized public ledger of all the Bitcoin transactions that have ever been executed. But blockchain technology is much more than Bitcoin, as the technologist and entrepreneur Melanie Swan demonstrates in her new book, Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy.
Bitcoin participants begin by creating a digital wallet that generates their Bitcoin address and their public and private keys. A person’s public key can be obtained and used by anyone to encrypt messages intended for that individual. The encrypted message can be deciphered only by using the recipient’s private key. Bitcoins are exchanged for products or services when someone encrypts a message thatessentially says, “I give the right to spend this money to the person who owns the private key corresponding to this address.” The blockchain then publicly records this activity.
The blockchain doesn’t have to be confined to tracking Bitcoin activity. Swan persuasively contends that the advent of the blockchain platform as “a universal, permanent, continuous, consensus-driven, publicly auditable, redundant, record-keeping repository” is a technological game-changer as significant as the creation of the Internet. Since it is a decentralized public ledger, the blockchain enables the trustless transfer and accurate recording of all transactions and documents.
The result is, in Swan’s words, “a new paradigm for organizing activity with less friction and more efficiency.” By cutting out the gigantic layers of government and corporate rules and bureaucracies devoted to tracking and authenticating identities, contracts, transfers of money, exchanges of tangible and intangible goods, and the ownership of property, blockchain technology can dramatically reduce the transaction costs of all sorts of activities.
Swan acknowledges that this technology is not yet mature, but her survey of some of the exciting new tools that are being explored and exploited by developers will give readers a good idea of its potential. “Smart property,” for example, refers to physical property whose ownership is registered in the blockchain and thus controlled by whoever has the private key. In other words, property rights can be cryptographically defined and self-enforced by code. The owner can sell it simply by transferring the private key to another party.
Swan also envisions that physical properties registered on the blockchain could become “smart matter” embedded with sensors, QR codes, NFC tags, iBeacons, and the like. Access to property could be implemented using smartphones to unlock doors to houses, hotel rooms, or rental cars by affirming a user’s digital identity as encoded in the blockchain.
RileyThen there are smart contracts. The startup Ripple Labs envisions contracts coded on the blockchain in which parties agree that specified transactions take place when certain inputs are received by ” smart oracles.” The oracles consist of code that can sign a cryptographic key pair if or when a contractual condition is met. Smart contracts require less trust between parties because they are autonomous, self-sufficient, and decentralized. (The science-fiction writer Daniel Suarez envisioned a set of smart contracts operating autonomously and taking over the world in his brilliant novel Daemon.)
The blockchain ledger and the archives registered on it must be able to be stored and communicated when needed. Storj is just one of several peer-to-peer encrypted storage network services that enables users to transfer and share data without relying on a third-party data provider. Storj works by paying community members to store encrypted files on their extra hard drive space. Storj estimates that it can drop of the cost of data storage by a factor of 10 to 100. Meanwhile, the Proof of Existence virtual notary service anonymously and securely stores an online distributed proof of existence for any document.
Swan goes on to explain the operation of decentralized applications (DAPPs), decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), decentralized autonomous corporations (DACs), and decentralized autonomous societies (DASs). The Bitcoin blockchain is a good example of a DAPP. The ongoing development of an open-source blockchain that aims to enable the ridesharing service LaZooz is example of a DAO. It is an entity without owners and without central servers, existing on the smart phones and computers of its community of users.
A DAC might be thought of as an automated nexus of contracts that can engage in activities such as leasing assets, hiring people, and securing debt or equity to achieve the goals set out in its mission statement. Notionally, DACs operating under a set of publically available business rules would be incorruptible and more trustworthy than human-run firms. As Dan Larimer of Invictus Innovations explained in The Economist: “Although DACs can still be designed to have a robotically inviolable intention to rob you blind, to enter the open source arena they must be honest about their plans to do so.”
Blockchain technology can also empower people to make end runs around oppressive governments. As Swan notes, blockchain technology facilitates pseudonymous transactions outside the visibility, tracking, and regulatory purview of states. Anti-censorship applications are being developed. The Alexandria DAPP, for example, “preserves the integrity of the historical record. It taps into collective, on-the-ground reporting by scraping Twitter as events unfold and prevents after the fact censorship by archiving the information on a blockchain.” Namecoin is an alternative domain name system registration process that cannot be controlled by any government.
And the DAS? Swan gets a bit vague here about what she means by “the idea of putting the nation-state on the blockchain,” largely because blockchain technology has not yet been implemented by government agencies. Indeed, federal functionaries will hate some of the proposals that Swan mentions, due to their libertarian implications. Still, services now offered by governments that could be moved to the blockchain include “an ID system based on reputation, dispute resolution, voting, national income distribution, and registration of all manner of legal documents such as land deeds, wills, childcare contracts, marriage contracts, and corporate incorporations.”
Swan evidently believes that a modern world transformed by the wide application of increasingly autonomous blockchain technologies will become ever more productive without the need for human involvement. Hence her interest in “national income distribution,” in which the earnings from autonomously operating blockchain enterprises are divvied up among citizens. Blockchain government would also be a lot smaller and cheaper, since most commercial activities would be overseen, regulated, and resolved on the blockchain. Ultimately, as blockchain venture capitalist David Johnston declares, “Everything that can be decentralized, will be decentralized.”
There is much more in this slender book, including speculations about how blockchain technologies could be used to monitor public health, crowdfund projects, provide community supercomputing, upload personal mindfiles, and even birth artificial intelligences. Swan acknowledges that many of the projects she outlines may well never really get off the ground. Nevertheless, she makes a strong case that we are at the dawn of a blockchain revolution.
There is no putting the genie back into the bottle!
‘’Genetically engineering ‘ethical’ babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor’’
‘’Genetically screening our offspring to make them better people is just ‘responsible parenting’, claims an eminent Oxford academic’’
‘’By screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out’’
“If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should.”
“Whether we like it or not, the future of humanity is in our hands now. Rather than fearing genetics, we should embrace it. We can do better than chance.”(1)
Well, apparently, to me as a father, responsible parenting means something completely different from what it obviously means to an Oxford professor.
I’m glad I’m not a part of an academic establishment and my life does not depend on government grants. Thus, being a free thinker, I would rather say that genetically modified babies would mean the end of humanity as we know it.
I’m sure you are familiar with the term ‘’Eugenics’’, but just in case you aren’t, here is a brief overview.
What is Eugenics?
Eugenics is the bio-social movement which advocates practices to improve the genetic heritage of human species. It’s aimed to produce a more ‘’desirable’’ people thus, allegedly, improving the human race.
It began with Sir Francis Galton, a pioneer of eugenics who gave it a name in 1883. During the first decade of the 20th century, eugenics grew into a social movement and became an academic discipline. Galton was inspired by the work of his cousin Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. But even though Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest had a natural way of selection, Galton took it a step further and proposed selection by force. That has resulted in eugenics policies and programs like compulsory sterilization, birth control, marriage restrictions, racial segregation and forced abortions gone wild.
When the eugenics mindset was adapted by Hitler, who was obsessed with the idea of racial superiority and the Aryan race while inspired by the eugenics philosophy, genocide followed. His obsession resulted in the loss of millions of innocent lives. Certain ethnic groups were declared inferior and thus not worthy of living. The holocaust was one of the expressions of this sick mentality also known as racism.
Considering the historical facts, it would be nearly impossible to believe in eugenicists’ altruism. If the hijackers of science would have humanity’s best interest at heart, they would use it to improve life on Earth for everyone, not only for themselves. They would use science to tackle diseases, famine and poverty rather than targeting those who are affected by such calamities.
Deeming people unworthy of living and seen as unfit is the true face of the eugenic elite to which we the people are simply ‘’useless eaters’’ who need a gene hygiene.
Quite recently we saw a worldwide protest against Monsanto, whose genetically modified organisms, which some people call ‘’food’’, are posing a serious threat to our health and environment. (2)It would be bad enough if we would only see GM corn or soy beans on our menu. (3)But things have progressed much further. Genetically modified fish is now threatening to disrupt and distort the whole ecosystem. (4)
As the information is breaking loose and people are becoming more conscious and aware of the danger of genetically modified organisms released into the environment and causing all kinds of health problems including tumors and organ failure as the recent studies suggest (5), the corporate heads came up with ‘’solution’’. When our organs will fail due to the consumption of Frankenfood, we will be able to replace them with new ones, grown for us in pigs! Pigs, they say, are almost our relatives! (6)
Here is what they say: ‘’Next to apes, pigs are pretty good matches for humans, physiologically speaking‘’.
Well, when I look at pigs, I don’t see anything in common with humans, not physiologically, not emotionally, not mentally and most definitely not spiritually. The only thing we share in common is a desire to live – one feature seen among all living beings on Earth, which is hardly noticed by science, much less by the proponents of eugenics.
So they’ve got us covered! Like the food and pharmaceutical industries. One is damaging our health, another is selling us drugs to repair the damage, or shall we say to suppress the symptoms? But I digress. The point being is that if we think that Frankenfood is the peak of the madness, we should think about Frankensteins coming from the labs! (7)
Among other things, Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States has warned us that:
“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of scientific technological elite.” ~ Dwight Eisenhower (8)
Is it not what we are witnessing today?
How much bigger should be our outrage when we learn about scientific proposals to genetically modify our kids? And this modification is only a beginning. Human-animal hybrids are already on the way!(9)
Don’t we realize that monsters are coming and human rights would likely be claimed by these new life-forms? So far as a society we can’t even protect the rights of humans, let alone clones. It’s also important to remember that the State will be the legal parent of these creatures. Just think about the implications!
What will happen to the human race, when it begins marrying and mixing with lab made human-animal hybrids? Do we realize that this scientific nightmare will not end soon after we devour our popcorn while watching a sci-fi movie on the big screen?
How can we trust the scientists to mess with human DNA when only 3% of it is understood? The rest of it they have declared to be a ‘’DNA junk’’ – a label given to 97% of human DNA which function has not yet been identified.
Some scientists are saying that ‘’junk DNA has little specificity and conveys little or no selective advantage to the organism”. However, there are others, who went even further by claiming that non-coding (junk) DNA was “selfish” and even detrimental since it was parasitic. In other words, that which hasn’t been understood by science is dismissed as invalid, declared as void and even deemed as harmful!
And these are the folks who are playing God?
In his article, oxford Professor Julian Savulescu, has made an attempt to separate himself from the eugenics movement by saying that people would have a choice:
‘’unlike the eugenics movements, which fell out of favour when it was adopted by the Nazis, the system would be voluntary and allow parents to choose the characteristics of their children.’’
But what choice do we have now that makes us think that more of it we’ll have in the future? Gorge Carlin has put it best…
George Carlin – The Illusion of Choice
George Carlin: The Illusion Of Choice
As we moving towards totalitarianism as a human society, it isn’t difficult to picture a future in which birth licenses would be issued and a mandatory embryo screening required, obligating the parents to do all necessary genetic modifications ‘’advised’’ by the medical doctors. There is already talk about whether the doctor should be able to override the parents:
‘’If the doctor feels that the parents’ decision is being made in unreasonable manner, he should be able to go to some other body with the authority to override the parents. I don’t think it should be just the doctor. A hospital ethics committee is better than a court, but a court is also a possibility’, proposes Peter Singer. (10)
So it well can be that like the one child policy in China, we soon will see a “no child policy unless genetically screened and modified”. In other words it would simply mean that no one would be allowed to have children unless approved by the government which will make it illegal to do it any other way. History is full of those examples.Among other states which implemented eugenics programs in the early 20th century, were North Carolina, which implemented it the longest, from 1929 to 1974 thousands of black and poor women were “persuaded” by the state and forced by other means to be sterilized. (11)
And as Mark Twain said: ‘’history rhymes’’ (meaning that history repeats itself), and we should be concerned about it.
In his speech the professor admits that ‘’by screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out. In the end, he said that “rational design” would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future.’’
But considering the fact that the ruling class is authoritarian and eugenics at heart, it’s highly unlikely that people will have any choice.
I wonder if I have to point out the likelihood of future generations being engineered as docile, obedient and apathetic at birth, guaranteeing that the status quo remains unchallenged. These clones would hardly have anything human other than human tissues. They would be artificial creatures devoid of humanness. I think the best way to understand this matter is to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or watch it here:
Brave New World (Full Version)
Brave New World(1980)-Full Length Movie.mp4
His brilliant work is the best testimony for what is coming if both mad scientists and the control freaks behind them are not stopped.
Bertrand Russell made a curious statement in ‘’The Impact of Science on Society’’ in 1951: “Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.”
Do Russell’s words sound any different than those of the Oxford professor? The only difference I see is in the methods of achieving the same exact goal.
Why not to leave us alone and let us, parents, to decide for ourselves what’s ethical and what are our moral obligations?
Often we see how evil is done in the name of the good, like the wars in Libya, Syria and Iraq, all has been sold to us as being ‘’humanitarian’’ missions rescuing people by delivering them democracy packed in the ‘’peace’’ bombs which are then kindly dropped on their heads for the sake of their freedom. It seems to me that same exactly pattern is re-appearing here — breeding us out of existence for our own good by using medical science for political gain.
Book reading as fire usage: What is more important, the result or the process?
Long reading was previously considered a way of transferring knowledge. But nowadays linear reading is becoming much shorter. The culture of information consumption is changing, along with the format of knowledge accumulation, transfer and perception. At the emotional level this is seen as cultural degradation.
But do we really need long texts for storing and transferring knowledge? Maybe it is nothing more than an old habit?
In his book The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, Marshall McLuhan analyses a quotation from Geoffrey Chaucer according to which the status of a student in the 14th Century was gauged by the number of books he has… written. In fact, the “books” the medieval students “wrote” were notes of what their professors said. The more summaries a student made, the more highly educated he was considered. Real books were very expensive, and so the cheapest way to have a book in the prepress era was to write down what wise men said or copy wise thoughts from other [written] books. Books were the product and the certificate of one’s diligence. Universityvstudentsvstillvtake notes during lectures.
When the first books were printed, professors denounced their appearance as the degradation of education. McLuhan mentioned that professors were horrified: Imagine that students no longer need to take down notes because they can buy a book instead! They denounced this as the desecration of knowledge. It was impossible to imagine that one could acquire knowledge without spending long hours writing down every word the professors said, but simply by buying a book. Nowadays it’s like downloading a research paper from Google instead of going to a library for reference material.
In fact, you can get as much knowledge by reading a printed book as by writing down what your professor says, but quicker and in a different way.
This could be a side effect of the progress of civilization: You get the same result in a simpler way. The best example is fire and the way we use it. It is said that the use of fire is what distinguishes men from animals. Mowgli from The Jungle Book may be weaker than some animals, but he is stronger than all of them because he can handle fire. The fire which Prometheus gave to the people contrary to the gods’ will allowed the human race to rise above all others on Earth.
Today we hardly ever use open fire in our life. We don’t use open fire to warm ourselves or to cook food. Ancient men would be outraged to see that we get fire by clicking a lighter. They believed that this sacred procedure should be preceded by two days of ritual dancing and the whispering of incantation to a heap of twigs. Omitting this process was simply not the done thing, but now it is, this disregard for open fire does not cause a culture shock because its gradual withdrawal from our life took a long time. Thousands of years passed from the time when lives depended on fire to the era when people see open fire several times a year and hardly ever use it.
So culture could be said to represent the long hours of a solemn ritual involving twigs and sparks. Culture grows out of the trouble we take to acquire a desired technology. Culture is the gap between a need and its satisfaction. Technology is narrowing this gap, and in the process it affects culture, or at least culture as it was understood in the past, culture that was associated with long rituals. That’s what causes the feeling that we have lost the fundamental essentials.
But what if long reading is like making fire: no longer necessary? What if we can get a comparable result quicker, which is very important, considering the uppermost importance of time?
New forms of packaging knowledge were created by multimedia and journalism, the first profession to face the digital challenge. Moreover, social media now offer super-fast and super-simple ways of information acquisition and transfer which the long text cannot rival. The long text and thick books are still seen as attributes of the intellect and knowledge. But statistically, the new synthetic format, which can be described as fast’n’fun because it does not have a permanent carrier, is rapidly winning the battle with the long text for people’s time and attention.
In the past, the long text had the monopoly on conveying a meaning primarily for technical reasons. When information is transmitted through physical media such as paper, it is easier to systematize and store in the form of books (scrolls are a different matter; the use of scrolls or books for transferring information predetermined the path of civilization’s development).
The print-era man can easily visualize an average book, a “thin” book (an entertainment book or magazine) and a “thick” book (which is usually an intellectual book the meaning of which is difficult to understand). “Thick” volumes were the most valuable kind of books. This content hierarchy showed that valuable content was inaccessible for ordinary people (“thick” books were expensive and difficult to read). In other words, the value of the long text supported the monopoly of palaces and temples. Monopoly on the long text equaled monopoly on power.
These technical parameters gave rise to the idea that the long text/book is a sacred object. At the everyday level, this implied that thick books contained important information. This can explain the awe for the long texts. Because of the books’ format, education was a long and difficult process, and so the long text also symbolized the diligence of those who manage to read books through to the end. Diligence and the ability to focus one’s attention on any particular subject for a long time are important characteristics of the value hierarchy of the hard-copy era.
But technology has moved forward. Everything has become fast’n’fun, but the sanctity of the long text continues to govern our behavior and opinions.
The focus on the long text of the print era is waning. The multimedia are reviving the audiovisual perception of life that was prevalent in the prepress era, though at a higher level of development. Audiovisual information and even long stories are now easier to store and propagate, something which the prepress people could not do and which we learned to do thanks to the invention of paper and books.
The transition period will not be easy. There will be an inevitable loss of knowledge due to the change of formats and carriers. Not everything that could be put in the long copy can be transformed into the fast’n’fun format. Will anyone even try? The new language of culture is being used to produce a new meaning rather than to convey the past knowledge. Long reads will become like Latin, the dead language of classical knowledge.
People will find it difficult to accept this change, because for the past 5,000 years the humankind used the long text as the main carrier of knowledge. But progress logically moves towards simplification. Evolution is not a mountain you climb, but a vortex that sucks you in. You can and must resist this. I would even say that it is the duty of all people of the long-copy era. But any efforts to do so will be in vain. Books will survive as part of the vintage fashion and an element of elite consumption. But they will lose – they are already losing – their role as the main carrier of knowledge.
In a more distant future, the gadgetization of the human body will lead to the creation of a third signal system, the elements of which we can see in the growing interactivity in infographics, visual semantic objects, augmented reality, and the like. And then it will not be the word that will be the semantic carrier (actually, the word is a rather awkward intermediary between the mind and the meaning), but the directly induced emotion or sensory perception of the semantic object. Our future is being created in the experiments with induced perception at 4D and 5D cinemas, not to mention cognitive interfaces.
Is there a place for books in this future? Now Prometheus has given people a device connected to the web.
An era of transparency & accountability is beginning for politicians.
Very shortly the U.S. Congress will shortly vote to make Economic Impact Assessments (EIAs) a mandatory part of every executive rule or regulation passed with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more (REINS Act SR226 & HR 47).
Elsewhere the rise of right wing politics in the EU and UK is forcing scrutiny on politicians and bringing them to account. In many democracies it may become mandatory to attach economic impact assessment statements to each piece of legislation If this trend reaches an extreme we will see calls to have politicians and government unable to raise any debt. given their track record however, maybe this is not such a bad thing.
The Australian state of Queensland election is also forcing the incumbent Premier Newman to adopt transparency and accountability principles. We anticipate transparency and accountability will become the new fashion for liberal democratic governments over the next 3-5 years.
The ‘political hubris bubble’ is finally beginning to burst. Social mood is swinging into action and voters are acting on their long held distrust of politicians. Firstly they exercised their democratic privilege to put several governments into ‘hung parliament’ balances (UK, USA Australia) and now they are beginning to hold them accountable. The days where politicians can promise, over-commit and overspend is coming to an end.
Part II: the Bear Argument
We also point out our alternative scenario which, if, going to happen, is starting now. This scenario suggests stock market prices are peaking in what was a false move to the upside over 2009-2014. This implies that the stock market correction which began in 2000 is still underway and has many years left to unfold. It also implies that stock markets are about to undergo a rapid and relentless decline to their 2009 low points and most probably lower. Falling oil, gold, metal and bond prices over the last few months support this scenario which suggests economies are still undergoing this huge consolidation.
The current divergence between stock markets and commodities indicate a major topping process is underway. In addition Austrian Business Cycle Theory suggests a massive divergence between the amounts of new money coming into the system on a year on year basis is diverging with capital goods prices such as stocks and real estate. This implies the system cannot support asset prices at their current high levels. Even if the US Fed were to begin another round of quantitative easing it would not be enough to sustain asset values – especially stocks at current levels. If this scenario emerges over the next six months we can predict this will give rise to an economic depression lasting 8 to 13 years before an economic recovery gets underway. See the chart below to get a sense of the disparity between M2 Money Supply growth – non seasonally adjusted compared to the weekly DJIA close.
The alternative view suggests it is the resumption of the bear phase of an ongoing correction since 2000. The massive money supply pumping had created the sub-prime bubble that should have been left to sort itself out in the 2008-2009 phase. Since then we have seen bubbles in commodities, education, shares and real estate. The divergence seen in the above M2 NSA Money Supply – DJIA graph illustrates how much worse the situation has grown with stock prices occupying high levels and the amount of new money coming into the system remaining static. This is untenable.
Summary of expectations – short term bull market scenario
• Expect stock markets to correct more deeply over 2015 (14720, 15340 (DJIA) and 1738, 1814 (SP500)) against a growing bullish optimism before beginning an upward exponential surge in stock, commodity and real estate prices. Anticipate any decline of stock markets or economic data to be met by central banks restarting their QE programs. 14720, 15340 (DJIA) and 1738, 1814 (SP500)
• The collapse of oil prices in the last quarter of 2014 creates a potential game changer for most economies as cheaper energy prices flow through to Main Street. It is likely Crude Oil prices will be capped for the next few years at around US$80 per barrel. This takes the pressure off consumer prices but once again translates into higher share and real estate prices.
• Anticipate consumer price inflation to remain low in the US, UK, EU and Japan. At the same time higher than normal unemployment and the potential for continuing stagnant economic activity will prevail. At this time we anticipate seeing US consumer inflation increase dramatically with the potential to see 4-6% very quickly. The only thing really holding CPI figures down at present, is falling oil prices in late 2014.
• Interest rates will start to rise in 2015 as central banks try to normalize credit markets.
• • Expect credit markets to re-price themselves if inflation does kick up creating a liquidity trap for central banks.
• Anticipate the US, Japan, UK and German stock markets to benefit at the expense of emerging markets as cash gets sucked from the periphery to the centre. Similarly the US dollar will continue to strengthen as money floods back to the centre from the periphery.
• Expect a collapse in stock and commodity prices followed by economic contraction where both inflation and high unemployment are experienced at the same time after this spike in stock and commodity markets prices. This may not happen for another 3 years as the ‘Roaring Teens” finishes up.
• Anticipate social and political dislocation in many countries including the US to continue to escalate.
Summary of expectations – short term bear market scenario
• Expect stock markets to begin a relentless stair step down punctuated with savage counter rallies. The nature of the decline will tell us if this is a correction in a broader ongoing bull market or the beginning of the bear market. One clue would be if the correction points mentioned here are taken out in one continuous uninterrupted decline (14720, 15340 (DJIA) and 1738, 1814 (SP500)). Anticipate any decline of stock markets or economic data to be met by central banks escalating their QE programs. 14720, 15340 (DJIA) and 1738, 1814 (SP500)
• We might also anticipate inflation to break out in an unprecedented way especially in the US, UK and Japan and central banks will be unable to contain it. At the same time higher than normal unemployment and continuing stagnant economic activity will prevail. Interest rates may rally sharply on rising inflation and start to rise as central banks try to normalize credit markets in 2015 before plunging as evidence of the growing bear market gathers.
• The coming phase will be difficult to read as markets enter their final death throws and competing bullish and bearish forces play out.
• The coming depression that unfolds will last 8 to 13 years.
• Anticipate increasing social and political dislocation in many countries including the US.
Conclusion & End Game
Whether we have a few more months or years of twilight before the beginning of a new “Dark Age”, suffice to say, that from now onwards we can expect increasingly tough times punctuated by phases of optimism. And of course the coming generation of correction will not merely be confined to asset prices and the vagaries of fiat money and bad economics, but also to societies and politics, both domestic and geo-political. Generations of people will learn about long forgotten natural laws and how it applies to human behavior. Social mood will have become dark and this will also express itself through every aspect of society, both culturally and economically. Music, the arts, fashion, crime, politics, social mood and drama will all reflect the new paradigm. The growing social political and economic tensions we have witnessed a harbinger of what is to come. This phase will reset the stage for a new beginning for people from which a new and sustained social and economic recovery will slowly begin. By the time that point has arrived however, the nature of our societies and the way we relate with people and between nations will have changed. The wrangling about why it had to happen will be well underway.
Much of my career has been spent refuting this or that doomsday scenario. From peak oil to overpopulation, I’ve been on the other side of the hysteria and often vilified for it. In the last few days, however, a Wall Street Journal headline told us that “Oil Prices Tumble Amid Global Supply Glut.” Also, a LiveScience story told us that “US Birth Rate Hits All-Time Low.”
Neither one of these headlines should surprise anybody. The math behind both of these stories has been clear for a very long time. Neither peak oil nor overpopulation fears were based on actual science. This, of course, raises questions about our species’ susceptibility to periodic Chicken Little hysteria. I have no explanation for this innate tendency, but it’s been evident for thousands of years.
In the modern cautionary tale, first published in the Anglosphere in the mid-1800s, it’s a chicken that cries that the sky is falling. Ancient Buddhists from India and Tibet told the same basic story, but the central character was an alarmist rabbit. That version was spread into Africa and then via the slave trade into America where the oral version was recorded by Joel Chandler Harris in his Uncle Remus books. What sets it apart from the older versions is that Brother Rabbit starts the panic but never actually falls for it himself. I’m reminded of some current global warming activists who fly in private jets and live in estates with carbon footprints bigger than small towns.
So I’m not exactly scared, but there are things that concern me. The oil glut isn’t one of them, but historically low birthrates do have enormous implications for investors. The last available data, compiled in 2013 by the CDC, show 62.5 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in the US. That’s down 10 percent from 2007, which was already below replacement rate. In 2008, the US birthrate was 2.08 births per woman, below the 2.1 level needed to replace the population. Today, we are seeing the lowest recorded American birthrate since government started keeping track in 1909. New Zealand, Australia, and Canada are even significantly lower.
In and of itself, a sub-replacement birthrate isn’t necessarily a problem. The problem is that our ruling elite seem totally unaware that it’s happening. Routinely, in fact, we hear from certain politicians that overpopulation remains a pressing problem even as populations throughout the West are shrinking. The same trends, by the way, are already obvious in Asia and Africa where populations continue to increase primarily because people are living longer. Real demographers know that the world population is on track to contracting, and perhaps quite dramatically.
Once again, I recognize that there are upsides to reduced populations. The problem, however, is that so many government policies are still based on the assumption that every generation will be larger than the last. Growing populations are great in many ways. First of all, more young people entering the work force creates demand for all kinds of goods and services. It grows GDP and therefore tax revenues. The simplest way to achieve economic growth is, in fact, to grow the population.
While this is glaringly obvious, it’s remarkable how many economists miss this elephant in the room when talking about countries such as Japan, where economic problems have mirrored the country’s falling population. Last year, the Japanese population shrank by about a quarter million people.
Japan has the highest life expectancy and oldest population in the world, and the older Japanese people expect that the promises made in the past to help support the aged will be honored. It’s not at all clear to me that those promises can be kept, at least as things now stand.
As I’ve written many times, there were about 17 workers per retired person in the United States when I was born in the middle of the last century. Today, the ratio is less than three to one, and getting worse. Already, 30 cents out of every tax dollar collected in America flows to the aged, but much of that money is being borrowed. In effect, the bill for caring for the aged is being sent to future taxpayers, despite the fact that there will be fewer young workers and more aged people to support. This arrangement is not only unsustainable, it’s unethical. In my opinion, the older, wealthier population should help the younger, less wealthy part of the population, the reverse of the current situation.
Every time I’ve written this over the last 30 years or so, I’ve been attacked by people who claim that I’m a fearmonger and that we have plenty of money to support the aged. Today, however, we’re $17 trillion in debt and still borrowing. The current administration doesn’t even acknowledge that the problem exists, so it’s getting harder and harder to make that case.
We need to face the fact that things are going to get worse before they get better. I have little doubt, however, that we will eventually adjust to the new reality. We’ll see policymakers wake up to the new demographics, as they are in Japan, sooner than most of us think. Other countries are also facing facts and are devising solutions. I particularly like the spirit that some Danes are showing in their efforts to counter the country’s low fertility rate. Japan, however, is leading the way in terms of enabling technological solutions through regulatory reform.
The Japanese government understands that the old model is doomed and is actively looking for ways to increase the national work force. There are two obvious ways to do that. One is to bring more women, who have not traditionally worked to the same extent as Japanese men, into the work force. More working women means economic growth and more funds to support an aging population. The other, more long-term solution is to increase birthrates to grow the national work force.
The problem is that the two strategies counteract one another. Japanese women who work have lower birthrates than those who do not. Therefore, the only remaining solution is to extend health spans and working careers, increasing incomes and tax revenues while reducing medical expenses.
There are several ways that the Japanese are working to do this. The most important is the recently accomplished elimination of phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials for stem cell therapies. The second is in the field of dietary supplements and nutraceuticals.
Japanese regulators exercise less direct control over the market but provide more solid, peer-reviewed information for consumers and healthcare providers. Recently, for example, the Japanese government issued a patent to Terra Biological for oxaloacetate (trade name benaGene) for use in “life extension.” Oxaloacetate is one of the NAD+ precursors that I take based on recent research. I also take the NAD+ precursor, nicotinamide riboside (trade name Niagen).
In general, Japan is leading the way in efforts to encourage new anti-aging therapies. In the next few years, I anticipate that Japan will continue to lower regulatory barriers for new biotechnologies. This is very unlike America’s FDA, which doesn’t yet recognize anti-aging or life extension as a legitimate therapeutic target.
The current regulatory environment in the US will change, however, because it has to. The only question is how soon it happens.
Fortunately, there is a growing chorus of rational voices in the US. I would recommend that everybody download and read Why Population Aging Matters: A Global Perspective. This relatively brief presentation was written by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. On its website, the NIA states bluntly:
The world is on the brink of a demographic milestone. Since the beginning of recorded history, young children have outnumbered their elders. In about five years’ time, however, the number of people aged 65 or older will outnumber children under age 5. Driven by falling fertility rates and remarkable increases in life expectancy, population aging will continue, even accelerate. The number of people aged 65 or older is projected to grow from an estimated 524 million in 2010 to nearly 1.5 billion in 2050, with most of the increase in developing countries.
The interesting thing about that quote is that it was written in 2007, which means that this historic change has already come to pass. Back then, the authors warned:
Some governments have begun to plan for the long term, but most have not. The window of opportunity for reform is closing fast as the pace of population aging accelerates. While Europe currently has four people of working age for every older person, it will have only two workers per older person by 2050. In some countries the share of gross domestic product devoted to social insurance for older people is expected to more than double in upcoming years. Countries therefore have only a few years to intensify efforts before demographic effects come to bear.
More than a few years have passed since this report was written and nothing has really changed politically in the US, though the rate of demographic change and the pace of scientific progress, which is pushing out lifespans, have accelerated. Things will, therefore, get worse. The dynamics behind crippling governmental debt internationally are growing.
There are upsides to this totally predictable situation though. One is that we can anticipate many of the outcomes and devise ways of profiting from them. This is why I focus on disruptive biotechnologies that can significantly lower healthcare costs while extending health spans and careers. These biotechnologies provide the only real solution for the demographic transformation, except for the Danish solution mentioned above. I find it fascinating, by the way, that the revolution in biotechnology is happening exactly at the point in history when it’s needed.
Another significant benefit that will accrue from this convergence of forces is that many of us will be able to take advantage of these breakthrough discoveries. I’m incredibly excited about the emergence of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) vaccine which has been used widely in animals, where it seemingly rejuvenates and extends lives. Endothelial precursor therapy has similarly been shown in animals to rejuvenate cardiovascular systems. Hopefully soon, we’ll see brown adipose tissue transplantation curing obesity, diabetes and cholesterol problems. There are, however, significant benefits from recently discovered over-the-counter products.
Whenever I talk to el jefe, señor Mauldin, these days, it seems most of our conversations center on our workouts. Both of us work out and lift weights, as we have for much of our lives. Both of us, however, are making gains that we’ve never seen before. One of the Mauldin Economics executives told me recently that he’d never seen John look so good before, that his arms and shoulders are bigger than they’ve ever been.
I probably shouldn’t claim that I look good, but I can say that I’ve also put on a surprising amount of muscle in the last year. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Both John and I are in our 60s. I work out less than I did than in my 30s, but I’m suddenly lifting much more weight and have more muscle mass than ever. John’s experience is the same.
My only explanation is biotechnology. The NAD⁺ precursors that I mentioned above have been shown in animals to rejuvenate muscle tissue so I’m not surprised to see the effects in humans. I also credit anatabine citrate, though it is at least temporarily unavailable. I’m expecting word on that front soon.
Also, I’m a devoted user of the AVAcore thermogenic device. Recently, a major research organization presented evidence that it may be able to prevent the damage caused by overheating in athletes, but one of the investigating scientists mentioned, as an aside, that it also accelerates training results dramatically. Neither I nor Mauldin Economics have any interest in this privately held company, but I’m evangelical about the benefits, especially to older people. The stronger you are, the lower your risk of disease and mortality.
I realize that the current price of the device is high for many people, but I understand that the company is going to do some sort of crowd-sourcing project in the near future, probably Indiegogo, to fund a much more affordable product. I’ll let you know about the project when I have more information.
One of the reasons that I love the AVAcore device so much is that it perfectly demonstrates the unexpected and dramatic nature of emerging biotechnologies. The notion that exercise capacity and recovery could be dramatically improved by normalizing core body temperature is so unexpected, I’m still in awe over the science and the impact on my health.
It is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. As Japan is demonstrating, an aging population not only wants but demands access to the scientific breakthroughs that can significantly extend health spans. Just as Japan’s regulatory system is bending to the will of its aging population, America’s regulators will be forced to come around.
John and I talk a lot about assisting in that process, and I’ll have more information about that in the future. If you’d like to help in this effort, I suspect there are ways to do so. As it stands, our portfolio contains technologies that I believe will have dramatic impacts on some of the greatest threats to health and longer lives, including Alzheimer’s, cancers, fibrosis, diabetes, and other major diseases. A reformed regulatory system would accelerate therapies to market, which will improve and save lives. It will also allow more of us to live and invest longer.
From the TransTech Digest Research Team:
As Patrick explains above, new biotechnologies will not only extend and improve lives, they will also save the global economy from the implications of a shrinking population. Workers able to stay healthy and remain active in their careers will, quite simply, reduce overall medical spending and lead to an expansion of tax revenues over time.
Today’s transformational technologies—more than perhaps any set of advances the world has ever seen—hold the potential to increase the wealth and the health of all persons in all countries, regardless of their age. Where only a few decades ago many observers saw science fiction, breakthrough research today is working to create previously unfathomable new realities.
You can participate in this process of science fiction becoming science fact in the pages of Patrick’s Transformational Technology Alert. Each month, Patrick profiles a new publicly traded company and shows you the part it plays in the technology revolution ahead. Click here to start a risk-free trial subscription to Transformational Technology Alert today.Sincerely,
Editor, Transformational Technology Alert
They don’t want cars or brand name handbags or luxury boots. To many of them, travel beyond the known and local is expensive and potentially dangerous. They work part-time jobs—because that is what they’ve been offered—and live at home long after they graduate. They’re not getting married or having kids. They’re not even sure if they want to be in romantic relationships. Why? Too much hassle. Oh, and too expensive.
In Japan, they’ve come to be known as satori sedai—the “enlightened generation.” In Buddhist terms: free from material desires, focused on self-awareness, finding essential truths. But another translation is grimmer: “generation resignation,” or those without ideals, ambition or hope.
They were born in the late 1980s on up, when their nation’s economic juggernaut, with its promises of lifetime employment and conspicuous celebrations of consumption, was already a spent historical force. They don’t believe the future will get better—so they make do with what they have. In one respect, they’re arch-realists. And they’re freaking their elders out.
“Don’t you want to get a nice German car one day?”—asked one flustered 50-something guest of his 20-something counterpart on a nationally broadcasted talk show. The show aired on the eve of Coming of Age Day, a national holiday in Japan that celebrates the latest crop of youth turning 20, the threshold of adulthood. An animated graphic of a smiling man wearing sunglasses driving a blonde around in a convertible flashed across the screen, the man’s scarf fluttering in the wind. “Don’t you want a pretty young woman to take on a Sunday drive?”
There was some polite giggling from the guests. After a pause, the younger man said, “I’m really not interested, no.”
Critics of the satori youths level the kinds of intergenerational accusations time-honored worldwide: they’re lazy, lacking in willpower, potency and drive.
Having lectured to a number of them at several universities in Tokyo, I was able to query students directly. “We’re risk-averse,” was the most common response. We were raised in relative comfort. We’re just trying to keep it that way.
Is this enlightened, or resigned? Or both?
Novelist Genichiro Takahashi, 63, addressed the matter in an essay 10 years ago. He called the new wave of youth a “generation of loss,” but he defined them as “the world’s most advanced phenomenon”—in his view, a generation whose only desires are those that are actually achievable.
The satori generation are known for keeping things small, preferring an evening at home with a small gathering of friends, for example, to an upscale restaurant. They create ensemble outfits from so-called “fast fashion” discount stores like Uniqlo or H&M, instead of purchasing top-shelf at Louis Vuitton or Prada. They don’t even booze.
“They drink much less alcohol than the kids of my generation, for sure,” says social critic and researcher Mariko Fujiwara of Hakuhodo. “And even when they go to places where they are free to drink, drinking too much was never ‘cool’ for them the way it was for us.”
Fujiwara’s research leads her to define a global trend—youth who have the technological tools to avoid being duped by phony needs. There is a new breed of young people, she says, who have outdone the tricksters of advertising.
“They are prudent and careful about what they buy. They have been informed about the expensive top brands of all sorts of consumer goods but were never so impressed by them like those from the bubble generation. We have identified them as those who are far more levelheaded than the generations preceding them as a result of the new reality they came to face.”
The new reality is affecting a new generation around the world. Young Americans and Europeans are increasingly living at home, saving money, and living prudently. Technology, as it did in Japan, abets their shrinking circles. If you have internet access, you can accomplish a lot in a little room. And revolution in the 21st century, as most young people know, is not about consumption—it’s about sustainability.
Waseda University professor, Norihiro Kato, points to broader global phenomena that have radically transformed younger generations’ sense of possibility, calling it a shift from “the infinite to the finite.” Kato cites the Chernobyl meltdown and the fall of communism in the late 1980s and early 90s; the September 11 terrorist attacks in the early 2000s; and closer to home, the triple earthquake, tsunami and ongoing nuclear disasters in Japan. These events reshaped our sense of wisdom and self-worth. The satori generation, he says, marks the emergence of a new “‘qualified power,’ the power to do and the power to undo, and the ability to enjoy doing and not doing equally. Imagine a robot with the sophistication and strength to clutch an egg without crushing it. The key concept is outgrowing growth toward degrowth. That’s the wisdom of this new generation.”
In America and Europe, the new generation is teaching us how to live with less—but also how to live with one another. Mainstream media decry the number of young people living at home—a record 26.1 million in the US, according to recent statistics—yet living at home and caring for one’s elders has long been a mainstay of Japanese culture.
In the context of shrinking resources and global crises, satori “enlightenment” might mean what the young everywhere are telling us: shrink your goals to the realistic, help your family and community and resign yourself to peace.
What Takahashi called “the world’s most advanced phenomenon” may well be coming our way from Japan. But this time it’s not automotive or robotic or electronic. It’s human enlightenment.
Roland Kelts is a half-Japanese writer based in Tokyo and New York. He is the author of the bestselling JAPANAMERICA: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the US, and a contributor to enlightened media worldwide.
We rarely notice it, but technology moves way faster than culture. The future of work has long been predicted to be more casual and based away from the office, yet little has changed. We still largely commute daily in order to work from the same spaces and do the same things. How do we change our approach and change the way we work in the future?
As cities swell, public transport groans under the weight of demand, train prices increase, urban house prices surge and commutes lengthen, we look again to how technology can transform the modern workplace.
It’s been a unmet future promise since the 1990’s, much like the paperless office. We’ve had Skype for years, 4G allows working from the most remote of places, the promise of working from home is always on the horizon, but never been a reality. For each company that promotes it, we’ve Yahoo and Google (of all places) look to bring workers back to their motherships.
It should obviously not be like this, most of the working environment that we construct around is a legacy of the past.
We work “working hours” which are linked to the Agrarian needs of over 10,000 years ago, where working was growing crops and daylight was needed to harvest and plant them. Lightbulbs invented over 100 years ago made this irrelevant in modern working environments, yet we still work in daylight hours obsessively, even changing our clocks twice per year to aid our “need” to work in natural light.
We have a 7 day week thanks to Babylonians who 4,000 years ago thought there were 7 heavenly bodies. Yet the 5 day working week comes from just 1908, when a New England mill to accommodate the needs of Jewish and Christian’s needs for a holy day each, coined the notion of “weekend” . It’s odd to think if the Babylonians had been able to see further, how different life would be.
We work in the same places, at the same time, presumably because the industrial revolutions had factories with set roles in production lines and needed all present continuously.
Yet none of these things make any sense any more; in a world of smartphones, lightbulbs, virtual workspaces, IM, we’re held hostage by assumptions from 4,000 years ago.
But this isn’t new, we over value the impact of technology and underestimate the impact of culture, how slow it is to change. We forget in an age of fingerprint scanning, drones, 3D printing, that we still shake hands to show we’re not carrying swords, we still chink glasses to show we’re not poisoning each other, our body language reflects behavior of cavemen, we “carbon copy” people on email, heck, some people still use Yahoo, the most primitive all all human behavior.
So how do we unbundle ourselves from this oddity, the benefits of working different hours or from working from home more are massive and well documented. They would:
1) Reduce the cost of commuting, both in terms of travel costs, energy costs and environmental destruction.
2) Reduce the wasted time and damage from stress of commuting.
3) Reduce the unhappiness of such a crappy start to the day.
But most of all working set hours from the same place, after a lengthy battle to work, with photocopies humming , hampers creativity. For me the very most unlikely place to get an idea is in an office. Put me in a museum, a weird train, let me look out of the window on a plane or overhear a conversation in McDonalds and I’ll be million times more likely to spark something.
We off course still need face to face contact, ideas are nurtured in groups, thinking needs to get small and big and be pulsed through to bigger better things with other people, but often that’s the easy part.
So with this in mind I’ve three notions that can help us unleash us from the office.
1) A change in culture – the rise of management by objectives.
For some reason we bundled ” accomplishing something” and what correlates to it which is “being at work”.
If we are truly honest with ourselves, we tend to measure how hard we have worked by how many hours we’ve been at work. Sales assistants are generally paid by the hours worked, not what they sell, personal assistants don’t get paid per email or booking, but by how long they are able stand being at work. Advertising agencies / Management Consultants /Lawyers are paid by the amount of time spent on something. It’s all totally bizarre but stays in place because we’ve never been comfortable with a better way.
Because we correlate “being at work” with doing stuff, we’ve assumed that working from home was inefficient and that people abused the system. When you expect people to behave this way they do. I’ve had friends who used “WFH” as a term for a day off, it was a chance to have a big night the evening before and merely wake at 8am to announce they were online already.
The way around this is to be able to measure productivity and set goals for accomplishments. If we were paid to simple get results, we could all know that our interests were aligned and we could make decisions about the place we need to be, in order to best get that done, which oddly enough may required being in the office, but not around arbitrary hours from the Neolithic revolution.
Now I am no management theorists, but wouldn’t it be a fun exercise to think about how you would manage people in this world. What would the objectives be that people needed to accomplish? how would you monitor it? where would be need to be day to day? what are people actually doing for your business? when would people need to be in the office? how would these hours overlap? could you offer bonuses ? what do promotions look like this this world?
Many interesting questions we should all be asking.
2) Permanent Freelancing.
The idea of a job or company for life hasn’t just faded, it’s been smashed. We may assume the future generations will be job hoppers but they will likely go beyond this to work many different careers in their lifetime and often at the same time. Anyone whose spent time hanging out in painfully trendy parts of town and who dares talk to ( or WhatsApp with) someone with a deliberately asymmetrical haircut has found that people are no longer employees but jewelry makers / music producers / fashion blogger / feng shui consultant / website designer at the same time. We’re never too sure what actually pays the bill and where success lies, but that seems rather mean spirited to question.
So how do we work with this generation, how does diverse talent come together, how do we arrange a workplace around this.
It’s not been hard for me. In my company (Tomorrow), I need the very best people on the planet, to work incredibly hard for tiny amounts of time, on super interesting projects. It’s not only way more fun this way, but a future generation of experts are drawn to short, interesting, pioneering projects that they learn from. The cost of employment is slight and I get the best talent this way. We often forget in agencies that the very best people can work anywhere. If your website design agency is in a business park in Reading, you probably won’t be getting the UI star or Designer that will set the world alight, not unless you pay them incredibly, offer them the chance to work from a Montenegrin town one week and a Indonesian beach the next and offer them something they can learn from and be proud of.
So be honest with yourself, do you want the best people in the world to fit into your system, or do you want to attract the best people and give them something they value ( which is likely to be freedom not money)
3) New Environments.
Has anyone ever actually accomplished anything from a conference call? ever? Dan is always dialing in late forcing yet another re-iteration of what the call is about, Jenny is going through airport security and can’t talk and we can’t hear the call host because their hands free is crap and they are driving too fast. In 2014, the main point of a conference call is to show that you tried.
Video calls still seem awkward, how close should you be to the camera? are they still or has the video crashed? Isn’t video a bit much? Why are they looking there?
Instant Messenger is better, but why are we spending effort to ask home someones day is? Do we have to talk about the weather? Can they tell my sarcasm? This isn’t the way to ask a favor.
We’ve just not learned how to use this technology and we’ve pretended it’s not crap. So we need to use technology better but we also need a better environment to use it in. I see a new type of home office
I see this home office as a smallish space 10ft x 10ft for example, with projected images of livestreams on each wall. We may have direct video links open always to 10-20 people and other workable information on other screens.
Each person will be in super low res and blurry in real time, but have a light showing their status. In order to open a proper “gateway” to that person in full HD and with sound, you’d need to touch the screen and they’d need to accept the call, upon which a bridge is formed and a normally face to face conversation is held.
Could this be the best of both? What is this room called? How do villages and towns of the future adopt to this new working pattern?
The New Landscape.
On recent trips on trains across the UK it blows my mind how beautiful our countryside is and how dreadful our domestic architecture is. In the USA large scale architecture is typically crap, but homes ( for the middle and above) are generally well designed, optimistic, futuristic and airy, yet in the UK it’s the opposite with wonderful public buildings, adventurous railway stations, remarkable offices and the very worst new homes our planet has ever seen.
We’ve desperate calls to develop the Greenbelt, yet the question is always yes or no, never what and how? Why do our homes look like images from a 5 year olds drawing pad? Why do we hate windows? Do we need to try to replicate architectural language from the past, without any of the reasons that existed? How would a Roman temple treat a underground car port?
I’d love to see our assumptions challenged, the Greenbelt full of “digital commuter villages”, with central community work and health centers, subterranean leisure centers, vast numbers of communicable cars to subscribe to, electric self driving buses to local rail connections, decentralized power per home and above all else homes with this new “home office”
Maybe by removing every assumption we’ve ever made, we can reimagine both working from home and our entire built environment.