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Jul 11

Five forces to reshape civilisation by 2030

Peter Morici, economics professor at the Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, USA, recently published some interesting views on changes he expects world-wide by 2030:

  1. A reworking of democracy – Democratic societies outperformed all others in the 20th century – however, recent populism (ideas which appeal to ordinary people) has led their governments to hamstring businesses and redistribute income in ways that discourage investment in new technologies and the skills needed to use them – meanwhile China’s state-directed capitalism and autocratic government has proven better able to nurture new industries (versus copy existing?) and inspire a strong work ethic – western democracies have reached a watershed moment in their development and need to better manage welfare versus efficiency to re-establish robust growth

  2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Automation is mostly good as it makes workers more productive – tractors replaced horses enabling farmers to farm 400 acres rather than 40, with those made redundant moving to cities to work in factories and stores, and most earning far more per week – the same has applied to clerical work, with the computer replacing the typewriter, and professional ranks with spreadsheets balancing accounts, ‘Big Data’ analysed to monitor shoppers’ preferences and doctors supported when diagnosing illnesses and deciding treatments – overall, however, this will widen the gap between folks with skills, learning and high-pay and the rest stuck in low-paid service jobs such as restaurants and dry-cleaners – increasing unrest is inevitable if this is not tackled

  3. Blending machines and human beings – ‘AI will never fully replace the human mind because electronic devices are only as good as the information that we let them access’ (an optimistic claim, methinks) – however, he foresees tiny chips and processors attached to human brains being commonplace, enabling us to be permanently on-line with access to information, analytics and communication – hence, a much more intelligent human race will become a reality

  4. Immigration – With birth rates falling below replacement rates in most developed nations, their need is for more immigration, not less, but those same societies lack adequate mechanisms for assimilating newcomers – however, without immigration, their economies ‘face stagnation and eventual collapse’ (what if machines cover for people shortages?) so, if their politicians don’t bite this bullet, democratic capitalism is under threat

  5. Climate change – With rising atmospheric temperatures, all nations are compelled to address global warming and jointly seek solutions – otherwise Darwinian competition among societies for hospitable places to live could set back humanity as did the black plague or collapse of Rome (this assumes places made inhospitable were not replaced by others, currently inhospitable, becoming hospitable)

Food for thought indeed

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