Technology is like a double sided coin. On the one hand, it has been fantastic as it has greatly enhanced living standards and brought us products we could only dream of a few decades ago. But the flip side is that technological innovation has a tendency to transform industries and obliterate jobs.
Just think of a simple combine harvester. It’s invention meant famers could work more efficiently and produce higher yields of crops. But on the other hand, its introduction led to massive redundancies on farms as one combine harvester could do the job of 20 farm workers.
Software will disrupt most traditional industries and jobs in the next 5-10 years.
Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties. And Facebook, its the biggest media company in the world and doesn’t have any journalists.
Have a look below at how different up and coming technologies will change everyday life:
Artificial Intelligence: Computers are becoming exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, this is something to look out for. There will be 90% fewer lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 time more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognise faces better than humans. By 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.
Autonomous Cars: In 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will perhaps never get a driver’s license and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.
Most car companies may become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. A lot of engineers currently working for Volkswagen and Audi; they are completely terrified of Tesla.
Insurance Companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear. So if you are looking to invest in an insurance company, be aware of this risk.
Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighbourhoods.
Electric cars won’t become mainstream until 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that many coal companies will be out of business by 2025.
With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.
3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. Just do some research on Boeing and how 3D printing is reducing their costs. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large number of spare parts they used to have in the past.
At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they have already 3D printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.
Business Opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed in to failure in the 21st century.
Agriculture: There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all days on their fields. Agroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow-produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore. There are several startups that will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as “alternative protein source” (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).
There is an app called “moodies” which can already tell in which mood you are. Until 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it’s being displayed when they are telling the truth and when not.
Longevity: Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it’s 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.
Education: The cheapest smart phones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. Until 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. That means, everyone has the same access to world class education.
How does technology lead to income inequality?
Many of the drivers of transformation affecting global industries are expected to have a significant impact on jobs. New roles and requirements are being created on a regular basis by governments and companies alike.
In many industries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist ten or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate. In such a rapidly evolving employment landscape, the ability to anticipate and prepare for future skills requirements will be increasingly critical for businesses, governments and individuals in order to fully seize the opportunities—and to mitigate undesirable outcomes.
The re-skilling and up-skilling of today’s workers will be critical. But it need not become a race between humans and machines, but rather an opportunity for work to truly enable people to recognise their full potential.
As you can see, there are a lot of changes that are currently happening today that will transform the world of tomorrow. And the most important change will have to do with work and jobs. It is estimated that 30%-40% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.
The natural question is, if there are no jobs, how would I earn any money.
The best thing to do today is to start aligning your-self on the side of capital. By that I mean you need to get an ownership stake in the company’s that are leading the change. You need to buy shares in company’s like Apple, Alphabet and IBM. This way, as the companies lead future changes and increase their profitability, you too will benefit as you will be entitled to a share of the profits. You are entitled to the dividend the company pays. And if you are smart enough, you can ensure that the dividends you receive from these massive companies can cover your financial needs.