Most forecasts of the future are similar to each other. Everything is either good – we will get a lot of available goods and services and a lot of time for rest and travel, or, for example, artificial intelligence will seize power on the planet and this will become the end of humanity – that is, there is nowhere else. But several…
Technical progress has given us something that our parents could not even dream about. The boom in electronics and information technology made computers, smartphones, the Internet and satellite navigation available for the masses. On the way – self-controlled electric vehicles and “smart” things. Someone is more expensive, someone cheaper. Some do not yet, but for sure it will all be. And on the turn – a revolution in biotechnology and medicine.
But the benefits of the upcoming biotech revolution will be different. This health, longevity, beauty and physical capabilities of the body. What was previously received by a person at birth and then only adjusted as far as possible, including financial ones.
But it’s one thing when you have an inexpensive but functional smartphone from an unknown Asian manufacturer in your pocket, while someone’s untwisted and elite with a price tag is 10 times higher than yours, and another – when someone lives a hundred years longer , Than you. And without illnesses and other burdens of life. People will differ not by what they have, but by whom, or even by what, they are biologically.
Yuval Noah Harari, author of “Sapiens. Brief History of Humanity “and professor of history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, believes that by the end of this century, humanity will split into biological castes. Harari is a historian. And, in his opinion, throughout the history of mankind, inequality between people has only intensified. But all this time of achieving human thought – humanism, liberalism, socialism – as far as possible corrected the unjust distribution of benefits in society. Simultaneously, the human masses since the times of building the pyramids were the main productive force. The elite had to take care of people, about their education, health and well-being. But this comes to an end.
Automation and robots displace a person from the productive sphere, and consequently, deprive him of a permanent income. And the income is sufficient to enjoy all the benefits of modern technology. In the next century, inequality in society will reach a historic high, Harari believes. At that time, the rich only multiply their capital.
Inequality economic will generate biological inequality. Some can improve the capabilities of their bodies: develop physical and cognitive abilities, others will not be available. Thus, one part of humanity with the help of biotechnology and bioengineering accessible only to it can improve its bodies. These people can improve themselves, becoming more intelligent, more healthy and, accordingly, will live longer. Another part of mankind will only have to watch this.
Once industrialization spawned the working class. Now, “Industrialization 2.0” threatens to destroy it. But the people themselves will not go away anywhere. However, the fears of mass unemployment caused by the development of technology (“technological unemployment,” as it is often called), have never been justified. New professions always came to replace one profession. But not the fact that it will always be like this.
Every time on a new technological turn requirements to qualification for employment of new professions increased. And at one crucial moment, most people simply will not be able to take a step forward, they will not be able to complete their studies, to re-learn, to understand the renewed demands – they will not be able to find new vacancies. Too high contrast between what a person did at work earlier, and what needs to be done now. As an example, the same Yuval Noah Harari leads a new promising profession of the designer of virtual worlds. Can it be taken by a taxi driver with 20 years of experience or an insurance agent?
Usually new promising professions are mastered by young people. And this is a gradual process. The elderly are finishing up to retirement at their former workplaces, and the young occupy new ones. This time everything can happen within one generation. Significant masses of workers will be outside the walls of their enterprises and offices, according to historical standards, at the same time.
According to Harari, by the middle of the century a new class of people will form – a “useless class”. It will not just be unemployed, it will be people who in principle are not able to take a few remaining vacancies and those that will appear in new industries.
Technical progress, in his opinion, will not make them poor – they can live at the expense of an unconditional basic income. But the problem, according to the historian, will be the other – without a cause and specific goals, people start to go crazy. A person needs to experience emotions, feelings of satisfaction, achieve any goals. The output can be in virtual reality.
According to Harari, people who have not found their use in the economy – in the real world, will find their life goals in the virtual worlds. No wonder he talks about the profession of the designer of virtual worlds, as one of the popular professions of the future. Virtual reality compensates for the useless class of emotions that its representatives will not receive in the real world. Video games will become the meaning of life “useless class”.
Man – an appendage of machines
Almost everyone is already convinced that robots and automation will lead to technological unemployment. It would seem that the trend is obvious – progress in robotics leads to the emergence of machines that work better and faster than humans. There is only one “but”. Whether we stay in our seats or not, not engineers who create first-class robots will decide, and even more so not the robots themselves. This is the task of economists. And they are guided only by the principles of economic efficiency. And if the use of human labor will be more profitable than the use of robots, then most likely, it will be the person who will be given preference.
But if earlier a person was smarter than a robot, now in the system of division of labor he will have another advantage, not very, really, honorable, after so many years of civilizational development. Albert Wenger, managing partner of Union Square Ventures, believes that people will retain a competitive advantage over robots, but only because they will be cheaper for the employer than machines.
As an example, Wegner leads a London taxi. To drive the famous black cab through the streets of the British capital, it was necessary to study for four years and remember the location of all 25,000 London streets. At the examination it was required from memory to make a route and at the same time to name all the streets that meet on the way. Seven out of ten students dropped out of school. Now there is no need to keep all this information in mind. This is what the program does. Even the end point of the route is entered by the user, if we are talking about an application like Uber. Requirement for the qualification of the driver is reduced. He only needs to take the passenger to their destination. Learning for a simple driver is easier. And there are more applicants for less complicated work. So, the level of wages will fall.
In general, if the machine takes over part of the work of a person, says Wenger, the employee will pay less. And this can be much more effective from an economic point of view than completely giving up human labor.
An example with taxi drivers is not rare. Robots are already trading on the stock exchange. IBM Watson suggests diagnoses and the most optimal courses of treatment, the doctor can only agree with the computer or not. The world’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates passes under the management of artificial intelligence, and, as planned, in five years, three out of four management decisions in the company will take a supercomputer. In such a scenario, everything can end with the fact that the management of the world will be transferred to super-powerful artificial intelligence. A person will only serve the machines and carry out teams of artificial intelligence. The power of artificial intelligence over the world is a popular forecast of the world order of the future. It is even possible that the supercomputer will be kind and fair to us. He does not need to kill us.
The future without private property
The material expression of the “American dream” – to all the well-known ideal of well-being – for many decades was its private home and a car for every adult member of the family. To some extent, this was a landmark for the rest of the world. But, apparently, this standard of a happy life goes back in time with the possibility of the majority to have private property as such.
If we talk about the US, modern research suggests that more and more citizens of this country under the age of 35 refuse to purchase real estate and own a car. This age group has already been nicknamed the “generation of tenants”. They do not buy houses even in mortgages, but rent apartments, do not buy their cars, but use taxis. To help them, a whole IT industry has grown up, with leading services such as Uber and Airbnb. This is called “the economy of joint consumption.” And this is only the beginning.
Journalist The Guardian Ben Tarnoff (Ben Tarnoff) draws a picture of the future, which at first glance may seem fantastic. In his vision of the near future of the economy of joint consumption, a person does without his own things at all. That is, it is not about houses, apartments or cars. With this, everything is clear. It’s about a winter coat that returns to the landlord in the summer, about a bed that you change to a big one, if you are not alone, and other things that you own only when you need them. Provided, of course, that you have the money to pay for the rent.
However, these fears are not new. In the past, with less enthusiasm, this idea was described by the famous American science fiction writer Philip Dick in the novel “Ubik” (Ubik), which was published in 1969. The main character lives surrounded by things, for the use of which you have to pay every time. The front door, coffee maker and refrigerator have a slot for the coin. If you want to open the door, you need to drop 5 cents into it – otherwise it will not open.
The book is written more than half a century ago. The technological solutions described in it look rather amusing. But in the courtyard is already the twenty-first century, and the developed technologies can already realize all this at a fairly advanced level.
The company Toyota through its financial department is developing an interesting solution based on blocking and technology of “smart” contracts. It applies to those who buy cars on credit, but can be extended to tenants. If you did not make the next payment on time, then you will not be able to use your car – it just will not start. “Smart” contract in action – the penal sanctions prescribed in it will be imposed on you instantly, remotely and without the mediation of public services – courts, bailiffs and so on.
The same can be realized and applied to leasing. Ethereum Computer – the project of the German company Slock.it – allows you to install “smart” locks on any things, from the entrance doors, leased apartments to your washing machine, which you allow to use to neighbors, for money, to understand. The washing machine will work exactly as long as it is paid for, and the door will not let the owed tenant into the apartment. By the way, in the future, Slock.it solutions will allow smart devices to lease things themselves, the owner will not even have to communicate with tenants – everything will happen automatically.
Everything goes to the fact that owning a property is very expensive. If you have something, you need to share it. If you do not have anything, it’s even convenient: you can rent everything you need. Again, if there is money. And if there is work. Technology will allow you to more effectively manage your assets. It is very convenient. That’s only Tarnoff himself suggests to us what will happen if at some point, almost a hundred percent of the wealth of society will be in the hands of a handful of billionaires.
Personality without privacy
We all already perfectly understand that every day information is collected about us. Is going in many ways. Our search queries, data from smartphones, video cameras from the streets where we go, payments on bank cards. Technologies already allow us to track every step we take.
Soon, small streams of information about us will flock to large databases, and then be analyzed. Imagine that you bought a medication in a regular pharmacy, the course of which is two weeks. Pay with a bank card. A few days before the end of the medication, the contextual advertising services will show you advertisements of competing drugs on all sites. The data on purchases on your card is correlated with you, as with the Internet user. Not only your behavior on the Web, but also your actions in real life will prompt you what kind of advertising you need to show.
On the one hand, this makes life comfortable, on the other hand it is fraught with serious problems. Simson Garfinkel is the author of “Everything is under control. Who watches you and how? “- believes that in the future we should fear not the Orwellian” Big Brother “- the state watching us – but hundreds of” little brothers “who are watching us from everywhere. These are companies that collect information about each and every step in our life: purchases, illnesses and injuries, a circle of communication, problems with the law, and so on. Today, more than ever, thanks to technical progress, this has become possible.
Moreover, personal information has become a commodity, and a commodity. In his book Garfinkel gives an interesting example. Information about the financial state of one American family was sold to 187 credit history bureaus. But the essence of this story is not even in the very fact of sale. In connection with the error of the tax authorities, this information was unreliable. As a result, banks refused to grant loans to their spouses for seven years. In fact, the family for a long time was limited in rights.
State structures are concerned with security problems, and businesses are looking for ways to increase their incomes. How to act in this situation to a person? Global study of the Consumer Data Value Exchange, conducted by Microsoft, showed that 99.6% of Internet users do not mind selling personal information about themselves for a fee. Luth Research in San Diego is ready to buy your data, and then resell it to its customers. So maybe in the future the sale of personal information will become an additional source of income, for example, along with unconditional basic income? And maybe it’s not so bad? New technologies and a new way of life will solve many problems, for example, to cope with the lack of resources for a growing humanity. And you just need to adapt? Suddenly, our children still like this future?