What Will The Future Economy Look Like?

image credit Pixabay

image credit Pixabay

If one could visualize our economy what would it look like? Would it look like a graph, or a string of numbers? Our economy represents a collection of transactions, and if one recorded and traced each transaction geographically an image would emerge like a flat web among constellations. If one pinpointed each location of concentrated wealth to scale the image topographically, we would see many peaks and valleys. But none of these locations are fixed– their values change and individuals, institutions, and their extensions roam. The result is a boiling image, resembling the patterns of Chaos and harmony of the universe itself, like the surface of the sun.

This is a description of a complex system. They occur everywhere in nature on different scales. The universe is a complex system, our brains are complex systems, trees are complex systems, so are hives and the weather. So when people talk about the unpredictability of the economy, some claim that we don’t understand it as a “dismal science.” But we do know things about defining characteristics of complex systems.

Lack of stress weakens them. Chronic stress that doesn’t go away breaks them. Stress that resolves makes them stronger.

IMAGE CREDIT PBS AMERICA REVEALED

IMAGE CREDIT PBS AMERICA REVEALED

Something that grows stronger from stress is antifragile. Our bodies and minds are antifragile. Nature is antifragile. The economy is antifragile. This is important to grasp. It is important to understand how lack of stress weakens a complex system, making it vulnerable to break and collapse. It is also important to know that a chronic stress, meaning a stress that doesn’t go away, breaks antifragile systems. For the strongest complex system, you want to maximize its stressors that resolve.

A laissez-faire economy grows faster than any other economy. It maximizes market stressors, making everything stronger. We do not live in a capitalist or socialist society. There is a tug-of-war between the two. The debate: either government is not doing enough to make things more equal and fair, or the government is the source of the problem making the system exploitable, crushing the middle class and keeping poverty where it is.

IMAGE CREDIT DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION

IMAGE CREDIT DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION

This is how we treat our economy now: we impose regulations on the economy attempting to make it fair; our attempts deprive the system of natural stressors, resulting in unintended consequences. We compile regulation on top of regulation, depriving the system of more stressors, simultaneously creating chronic stressors that build up and never resolve.

This is how you break an antifragile system.

DEVIANTART VELINOV

DEVIANTART VELINOV

I tell people I don’t care about the divide between the richest and the poorest, as long as everyone can expect their quality of life to improve. In a hypothetical future, I don’t care if the richest man has fleets and planets, as long as the poorest man has access to healthcare, food, shelter, and entertainment– while enjoying vast and expansive opportunity for upward social mobility.

Money is the currency of our economy, but money is just credit representing human value and work. So even in a future where “money” is obsolete, or different, there will always be an economy; a fluid system connected to human value to facilitate transactions, and make bartering possible. When I was at sleepaway camp, candy bars was our black market currency. Our access was limited, supply was low demand was high, one could use sweets to barter. In prisons cigarettes are used as currency. In a world without “money” or in a world with or without abundance, things will still be coveted. There will always be limitations to one’s access at any point stradling time. And this is not a bad thing, this is a good driving, motivating force.

When people think about equality, a common misconception I encounter is that the economy is a finite pie. There is a finite amount of wealth and everyone can only have a limited slice. In truth, the economy is like a bubble that inflates and deflates. The more free the economy is, the more everyone’s slice will grow. Meaning innovation will happen faster, become economically affordable sooner, and everyone will have more opportunity to improve their lot. This is a law of laissez-faire economics.

However, it is also true that in a free market pre-existing wealth grows at disproportionate rates. In a laissez-faire economy, the rich will get richer faster. Still, everyone’s general quality of life will steadily improve at a faster rate than otherwise, and it is the best environment to maximize everyone’s upward social mobility. I think the environment that benefits the most number of people, and maximizes well being is the one we should choose for human flourish.

IMAGE CREDIT STAR TREK

IMAGE CREDIT STAR TREK

You may have heard about a Star Trek economy; being able to do things or go to places because you feel like it, but don’t forget there's a hierarchy on the ship! There will be no world of perfect egalitarianism, but a world of maximum freedom. There are many people who imagine a world of perfect equality and abundance, but I believe they are naive to how complex systems operate.

I’ve heard people lament that individualism and western ideals are bad and that we need more eastern ideals that embrace the group... I agree there must be balance.

IMAGE CREDIT REDBUBBLE BREINTHEAYER

I suggest thinking about western and eastern perspectives like a yin-yang; the best hybrid combines eastern and western cultural perspectives; and sees how to flip back and forth. No doubt we are all in this together, and we want to facilitate the best environment for human flourish and our survival throughout time.

In a future with AI guaranteed basic income, we will still need a free market to operate on top of it. Otherwise we'd risk stagnating our system and make it more vulnerable to unforeseeable events. It'd be impossible to equally distribute everything! Sure we will mine for minerals on asteroids, the ocean floor, and other planets, but this is not a property of scarcity and abundance, but a property of complex systems.

image Credit Fast Future Publishing

Even with overwhelming abundance there would be no way to remove hierarchies and different roles (no matter how fluid or interchangeable roles are). Egalitarianism becomes less stable the larger the system is. I know this first hand as a polyamorist, but also from my research and understanding of complex systems in nature.

As a species we want to grow as a machine civilization as fast as possible. There could always be bigger fish out there. The free market needs to be able to operate on top of the guaranteed income layer to maximize the system’s strength. People should be able to participate in a free market and compete. 

Eventually, it might become moot. There may come a point when we are all members of a plugin-plugout hive-mind augmented by artificial intelligence. Your brain will be backed up in the cloud, you can have multiple bodies anywhere, doing anything; some in VR, others in the real world. You'll sustain yourself on solar energy, so food will be a luxury; food might even be banned and you might have to get chemical/neurological triggers for illusions of food, because people might decide that it just doesn't want to end life anymore because it can get all its energy from the sun. And at that point we’ll all be one saying “I am legion.”

But before we get that far, it is important to know Marx is a historicist. The foundation of Marx's theory is not evolution. The foundation for Marxism is Hegel, History Theory, and the Dialectic. While Marx makes many astute claims about evolution, science, and the enlightenment, the bridge he uses to connect, justify, and claim his ideas don't have solid pillars to stand on.

Evolution is the result of antifragility. Anyone who learns how complex systems work in Chaos, can see we need to employ biomimicry and learn from the wisdom of nature as we self direct it. We can build and design our systems, but we cannot change the laws of dynamic physics.

The Perfect 46

This brave and thought provoking film tastes like watching history. By stepping beyond science fiction into the realm of factual science, this film brilliantly opens the door on eugenics. By examining the rise and fall of a genetics company (similar to some operating today), The Perfect 46 challenges audiences to think between Huxley's vision and self-directed evolution.

This micro-budgeted film takes off and lands on its feet, gripping throughout with its smart narrative. Artful presentation and layered storytelling make it all the more compelling and entertaining to watch. This film might not be for everyone, but anyone curious with a palette for thoughtful dramas should definitely check out this new modern classic. Look out and keep your eyes peeled for this one. 

Intelligence Squared Debate: Are Lifespans Long Enough?

Host and Moderator of Intelligence Squared John DonVan 

Host and Moderator of Intelligence Squared John DonVan 

I attended the intelligence squared debate for aging. The motion was “Are Lifespans Long Enough?” Honestly, it almost seems like a rigged question.

However, its framing does challenge a common philosophy language trap. “Are Lifespans Long Enough?” What is “enough?” Is it what we have? Is it the minimum to expect? Is it always more?

It was fitting to see Ian Ground, a Wittgenstein scholar, in the debate. Wittgenstein is a philosopher known for his views on language and how it constructs our reality. Many have interpreted his teachings as there is no objective truth, there is no meaning, and we are insignificant. A lot of cosmic pessimism and postmodern thought can be traced to Wittgenstein.

The question leads, if lifespans are not long enough, then we should strive to make them longer. Otherwise we should not fight death and instead should consign ourselves to contently die without impeding its approach. This is deathist.

Ian Ground and Paul Root Wolpe

Ian Ground and Paul Root Wolpe

So why argue we shouldn’t strive to make lifespans longer? Afterall, it’s an insidious suggestion. Well, the opponents of longer lifespans didn’t quite take that position. Instead they respectfully attempted to reframe the discussion, arguing it is narcissistic to want to live longer. That striving to make lifespans longer in order to defeat aging is a misguided effort. They claimed it would require us to examine our human values and sense of identity, and that it might force us to reconsider our understanding of what it means to be human. They brought up disruption to society, have-and-have-nots, and overpopulation.

The philosophers’ arguments weighed empty when scaled against the weight of their opponents’ arguments for why lifespans should be longer. The two who argued in favor of longer lifespans were two scientists, and not strangers to philosophy: Brian Kennedy and Aubrey de Grey. They articulately sliced through language entanglement, and clearly focused the debate.

Aubrey De Grey and Brian Kennedy

Aubrey De Grey and Brian Kennedy

Scientists today are striving to extend lifespans along with health-spans. In the pursuit of engineering longer life, these two things come hand-in-hand. De Grey and Kennedy pointed out their attempts are not merely to make milestones in geriatrics, prolonging decrepit and sometimes painful life. Their goal is to keep people healthy for longer periods by slowing down and maintenancing the aging process using modern technology; a noble pursuit considering 100,000 people die a day to age related disease.

Technologies need to be developed before they become economical. When cellphones were first invented– few could afford them. Now they contain more computing power than 1960s NASA and billions of people have them. That is how economy of scale works.

At the end of the debate, a friend of mine in the audience was called on to ask a piercing question. Here’s what transpired:

Keith Comito: But I kind of want to bring this to a little bit of the philosophy because it's sort of been glossed over I think in certain aspects. So if I understand it right, one of the cruxes against life extension is that in a true Wittgenstein kind of way, life or the form of it needs to be defined by its negative space, by death, like it needs to be there like some Hobbesian leviathans who give our choices meaning. And I want to say, "Is it fair” -- my question is: Is it fair to say, to assume, that this state of existence is necessarily more ideal than one in which we have learned to take the reins of our own development unforced by external conditions that can rob you of the goods of life?

John Donvan: Okay. Okay. Let's take a -- I thought you were going to be going down the -- that was good -- you landed that well. Ian Ground.

Ian Ground: That’s a good question and thank you for it. It's not so much what's defined by the negative spaces, as you put it, by death, but that we -- even from within life make choices that presuppose that time is finite. Okay. That's how it works. We have to put down -- say we put down roots, okay. You can't be a being that puts down roots if you're going to jump up in 50 years' time and go somewhere else, okay. It's a different way of conceiving of the human, okay. I'm saying well, fine, maybe you really don't like the human, okay, and you'd rather have something else. I've got no argument against that. I know what I prefer. That's all.

John Donvan: Aubrey De Grey, would you like to respond? And if you can come in --

[laughter]

Aubrey de Grey: I'm a practical first things first kind of guy. I don't want to get sick. I don't want you to get sick, and I really don't think very much about philosophy. And I think I'm okay not doing that.

[laughter]

Are lifespans long enough? No, I don’t think so.

// Images courtesy of intelligencesquared.org // Click here for a full transcript of the debate //

Interview with International Model & DJ Leebo Freeman

Leebo Freeman In New Yorker F/W 14

Leebo Freeman In New Yorker F/W 14

Leebo Freeman is a famous international male model, actor, and DJ. Ever since being voted as one of the top 50 male models in the world by models.com he has been featured in countless fashion magazines such as i-D, Essential Hommes, Client Magazine, L'Officiel Hommes, Harper's Bazaar, and Vogue. He's walked for fashion industry giants like Terry Mugler, Jeremy Scott, Frankie Morello, and Dsquared2 and appears in advertising campaigns all over the world. 

Once an MMA fighter, or as we'll call it, a "mixed martial artist," Leebo embodies the essential spirit of a multi-faceted artist who is both independent and thoughtful. As we like to put it here, he is someone fit to create order from chaos.

Leebo took some time to sit down with us to answer some burning questions and share somes thoughts on career outlook, positivity, and life.

Jules Hamilton: Before we dive into some questions, I'm curious where might people have seen you most recently?

Leebo Feeman: Well very recently I have been doing a lot of work with Vivienne Westwood! The reason being I mutually support her fashion movements and political/worldly causes like "Save The Artic". 

Vivien Westwood and Leebo Freeman for "Save The Artic"

Vivien Westwood and Leebo Freeman for "Save The Artic"

JH: So a lot of people know you as a famous model, but you also have a DJ persona. How did that start?

LF: Well I have always had a LOVE for music long before my modelling career. I always played in bands and was fascinated how music affected people and myself. My taste in electronic music started with my Uncle Paul who used to play for me warm Northern Soul and Funk style classics he owned on record and tape. I wasnt able to keep a band going with all my  travel for work, but being a DJ/Producer has turned out to be a perfect way for me to keep composing and performing music in a way that suited to my lifestyle... not to mention how cool it seems to me that one person could, if not control, at least contribute to the vibe of everyone's night in a club or lounge. 

Leebo FreeMan D'Scene Cover Summer 2015 Milan

Leebo FreeMan D'Scene Cover Summer 2015 Milan

 
Leebo Djing Monster Energy Tour

Leebo Djing Monster Energy Tour

JH: You've been on the cover of countless fashion magazines, been ranked as one of the top 50 male models in the world by models.com, and acted in a feature film with Danny Glover. What's the most fun you ever had on a job?

LF: Wow.. thats a very tough question. To even try to compare all the amazing textures of my experiences, and people I have seen along the way is almost impossible... There have been SO many amazing and fun experiences. 

Another Magazine Event With Vivienne Westwood and Kate Moss

Another Magazine Event With Vivienne Westwood and Kate Moss

JH: What attracts you to DJing? Is it the party atmosphere, the music? Do you use sound to connect with people?

LF: I most definitely use sound to connect with not only the people, but as you said the atmosphere and mood. It's amazing how much music can trigger one's emotions, and to be a single person at the head of that is an incredible feeling. 

JH: How do you approach things, new experiences, and challenges?

LF: I love approach things head on with all my passion and focus. I have told many of the influential people I have worked with along this journey (who when reading this will laugh) that whenever I'm given the chance I will give them nothing short of 100%.

 

JH: How would you describe your mindset?

LF: I suppose I could say it's a nice mix of entreprenuerial, indepedent, and creative. It's good to have an even balance with these areas. I like to streamline them into the same direction in whatever it is i may be focussing on at the moment. 

JH: Where did you grow up?

LF: My childhood has always been a tender subject. I saw a lot and experienced a lot that most kids probably shouldn't have that I use now as very important lessons. At the same time I experienced fundamental genuine love that carried me through tough times. I had a scattered start between the southern United States and the North of England.  

JH: Where do you live now?

LF: I live in East London in the borough of Hackney whilst frequently travelling back to my roots in Manchester.

JH: As a model you are creative muse for artists, but your body looks like its own canvas. How many tattoos do you have?  

LF: Hmm... you know funny I haven't ever counted.. and am constantly adding to that number. i quickly counted 50 around the upper body areas that are visible. That will surely have increased by the next time i see you :)

JH: What words would you use to describe the themes or common characteristics of your tattoos and style?

LF: Definitely traditional is the style I love, but I always look for artists with their own particular style about it. I also love some curious mind bending styles of Stippling and Neo-Traditional. 

JH: Do you see modelling as a stepping stone for a larger entertainment career, or is it something you want to continue balancing with a DJ persona? 

LF: I most definitely have used modeling as a platform for other passions I carried or picked up along the way, but don't intend to ever completely abandon it. 

JH: How would you describe your evolution as an artist?

LF: I would say the biggest factor in it is always trying to remain current whilst retaining style, I am always trying to convey my sound and story into whatever overall direction my creativity is going.  

JH: You do a lot of different things. How do you manage your careers?

LF: Yes I indeed have me fingers in many pies lol. I would say that actually it's the best way I am productive, to constantly be stimulated by a task.. the only times I feel uneasy or stressed is when i have nothing to work on. 

JH: What is your life like outside of your many professions? How do you enjoy spending time?

LF: I am quite simple actually, i love to cook for meself and others. I love scenery and sometimes will go to public places just to people watch and feel the buzz of the ever moving world. 

JH: Do you travel a lot?

LF: YES MATE... Lol sometimes i would say too much, but when i stop and think about it i know i am so blessed to be able to travel the globe like i do.  

JH: Where do you attribute your creative roots? What inspires you?

LF: Well I am very inspired by deep concepts.. I love reading a little about Quantum Theory and following the places it takes me mind. As well there's a lot of Anime films that really inspire me; I love elaborate and imaginative stories. 

JH: What qualities and what things interest you most?

LF: Intelligence and stead fast opinion is always attractive to me, I love to listen to people who really know of what they speak and aren't easily swayed from their views. I also am a fervent believer in positivity as a whole, I would definitely say its a testament to the things that I have accomplished. There are SO many good things to be found in every situation if we just look for them. I love to meet people who feel the same.

JH: How do you consider your relationship with nature and technology?

LF: Very interesting question. I have always had a fascination with the apocalypse and considering a point in time where everything becomes lawless again and all machinery and man made creations are overgrown with greenery. That being very strangely said.. LOL I loveee the future and the technological advances that we are leaping toward every day, but I do very much feel a connection with simple organic life as well. So I like a nice moderate mix of both.

JH: What do you love about sound?

LF: Sound.... oh i just don't know if I could live without it... I love its power to make us feel, the way it can pry at even our deepest darkest or suppressed emotions. I love how it compliments every experience and action. Just like speaking to a person whose voice matches their appearance and personality so well. This cosmic relationship of action and sound represents a part of them that cant be seen or touched. There is a natural score to our every movement and decision during our days. It is one of life's greatest gifts.  

Robots Threaten Stock Analyst Jobs

The Wall Street Journal wrote an article "Can You Tell the Difference Between a Robot and a Stock Analyst" discusing how the future of big bank financial analysts might not be so profitable. The reason being they won't have their jobs.

Of course, it won't be because the banks won't exist. They are merely driven to cut costs and increase effciencies. Use of automation with algorithms is now common practice in financial services.  Companies like Narrative Science are being employed by Deloitte, Credit Suisse and Mastercard to automatively transform big data into narrative reports to make decisions on investments.

Ray Kurzweil, oft sited author of The Singularity is Near and director of engineering at Google, pins the arrival of artifical intelligence on 2029. Regardless of how accurate his date might be, jobs in the financial sector, as well as in many other industries, will easily be replaced long before that. Driverless cars, which are already clocking miles on the road in some states, are expected to be ubiquitous within five years.

Today we can see technology that exists and understand how it is used. As computers and machines become more capable, people will need to find new ways to stay relevent in the work force. Over the course of humanity jobs have always been replaced by technology while the kinds of work people have performed has always changed.

This doesn't mean we won't have any jobs left. It means the nature of our jobs, the roles we need filled, and the manor in which we perform tasks will change. For people who value the future of their financial security (no matter what your job is), it is worth considering what will be our most valuable traits. Creativity, adaptability, and the ability to learn.


image from Wikimedia Commons