Wealth through Investing

Weekend Reads: Life in 2030 and a Meal in Patagonia


Have you ever stopped to think about what life will be like in 2030?

I have. And it is both electrifying and terrifying.

This week I participated in a workshop on diversity, equity, and inclusion and the future of work where participants were charged not only with imagining life in 2030, but actively stepping into it.

Futurist Margaret Regan, president and CEO of The FutureWork Institute, gave us an inkling of what we might experience just 12 years from now:

  • Some people will live a good part of their lives in virtual reality and prefer it to their day-to-day reality.
  • With Enhanced Singular Individuals, or ESIs, at work, we may create new forms of discrimination between the enhanced individuals and the so-called “Norms”.
  • Humans will be better than artificial intelligence (AI) at creativity, curiosity, passion, humor, and empathy
  • The same technology that will make AIs more intelligent will also give humans a boost.
  • 4D will include nanobots with the ability to self-replicate, transform, and self-assemble on their own into a pre-determined form.
  • With IoT (Internet of Things), the smart home and smart car will be part of our lives.
  • Humans will live in a world in which decisions are being made by an active set of cooperating devices.
  • Virtual reality will enable us to live many lives at once and have multiple personalities.
  • There will be increasing concern about the invasion of privacy as information is gathered from everywhere, for example, sensors and tracking devices.

Imagine, for a moment (as Regan had us do), that you are standing in the future and eavesdropping on a conversation taking place in 2030. Here’s what you might overhear:

“How are your kids, Margaret?”

“Our son, Jim, is an ESI and doing extremely well as an avatar developer. Our daughter, Adrienne, has refused to get any kind of enhancement and is actively engaged in the anti-singularity movement. She just came back from an anti-cloning rally demonstrating against the creation of ‘soulless humans.’”

If you’ve watched any episodes of Black Mirror, the “anthology series exploring a twisted, high-tech world where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide,” you’ll know that what once seemed farfetched is no longer that hard to imagine.

Take the episode that opened the third season, “Nosedive,” where everyone rates one another on a five-star scale after every interaction and the overall score determines a person’s social status and access.

The plot may have seemed like sci-fi when it aired, but China is already developing the Social Credit System (SCS) to rate the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion citizens. It didn’t take long for news media to connect the dots: “A ‘Black Mirror’ Episode Is Coming to China: People will be prevented from traveling on trains and planes based on their social credit scores,” read the headline in Esquire.

A friend recently quipped that Walmart executives had been watching too much Black Mirror after he read, “Walmart May Be Building Drone Army of Robot Bees to Pollinate Crops.” Why? Because it invoked the episode “Hated in the Nation” about a swarm of killer drone bees.

My point is simply that 2030 isn’t that far away and a lot of the technology we think of as way off in the future is already here.

All the talk this week about the future got me thinking more about AI, ESIs, the workforce of the future, and what else we might expect in 2030. With that in mind, here are a few articles you might find interesting:

  • One of the reports we were asked to read ahead of the workshop was PwC’s “Workforce of the Future: The Competing Forces Shaping 2030.” The foreword notes: “We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs, and changing the skills organizations are looking for in their people. These momentous changes raise huge organizational, talent, and HR challenges — at a time when business leaders are already wrestling with unprecedented risks, disruption, and political and societal upheaval.” The report identifies five megatrends that are reshaping society and the world of work: technological breakthroughs; demographic shifts; rapid urbanization; shifts in global economic power; and resource scarcity and climate change. These megatrends inform the report’s “four worlds of work in 2030:” The “yellow world” where humans come first; the “red world” where innovation rules; the “green world” where companies care; and the “blue world” where corporate is king.
  • If you aren’t yet familiar with “The Internet of Things” or its acronym, IoT, take a look at Jeremy Rifkin’s 2014 article, “The Rise of Anti-Capitalism.” (The New York Times)
  • In November 2016, the World Economic Forum asked experts from its Global Future Councils for their take on the world in 2030. The predictions ranged from the death of shopping to the resurgence of the nation state.
  • Ida Auken, a member of the Danish parliament, wrote a piece about life in 2030 — a life where she doesn’t own anything: not a car, a house, any appliances, or clothes. “Everything you considered a product, has now become a service,” she writes. “We have access to transportation, accommodation, food and all the things we need in our daily lives. One by one all these things became free, so it ended up not making sense for us to own much.” Auken notes at the end that some people considered her scenario utopian. She disagreed. “It is a scenario showing where we could be heading — for better and for worse,” she says. “I wrote this piece to start a discussion about some of the pros and cons of the current technological development. When we are dealing with the future, it is not enough to work with reports. We should start discussions in many new ways. This is the intention with this piece.”
  • Before this week, I had never heard of ESIs. If you missed the explanation above, it stands for “Enhanced Singular Individuals.” And if the futurists are to be believed (and I have no reason not to), it won’t be long before our workplaces transition to mixed offices of “Norms” and ESIs. Contemplating a workforce where some will be “enhanced” and others will not raises a host of questions, including how to address unconscious bias in AI and coding:

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

Image credit: ©Getty Images/domin_domin

Lauren Foster

Lauren Foster is the former managing editor of Enterprising Investor and co-lead of CFA Institute’s Women in Investment Management initiative. Previously, she worked as a freelance writer for Barron’s and the Financial Times. Prior to her freelance work, Foster spent nearly a decade on staff at the FT as a reporter and editor based in the New York bureau. Foster holds a BA in political science from the University of Cape Town, and an MS in journalism from Columbia University.


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