I have been paying attention to alot of marcotechnological metatrends and really listening to what futurists and others have to say about how technology is digitally transforming all aspects of our society, particularly our economy.
And I believe that we are currently in a transition from late-stage capitalism to techno-socialism. Although there are aspects of capitalism that are good and bad and there are aspects of socialism that are good and bad, we are heading towards a potentially very interesting type of society and economy. Make no mistake about it however, the next decade will be brutal for every job as hypercompetition, hyper-globalization, hyperautomation and hyperdigitalization soars as the pace of change continues to accelerate at a steepening pace of change. We are all going to have to navigate a massive transition or big shift in our economy especially in the next 2–3 years especially as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates forces of tech disruption significantly.
The cost of goods and services or the cost of production in many industries is close-but-not-quite-there yet to a zero-marginal cost. Think about the impact the internet, smartphones, social media, and mobile apps have had on our economy. They have dematerialized, decentralized, demonetized, and digitalized many aspects of our economy for better and for worse.
For the consumer, the benefits have been the best as the consumer has infinite choices and abundance of resources just through these digital technologies. And for internet entrepreneurs and software engineers, they have also mostly enjoyed the infinite leverage or scalability that information technologies such as the internet provide.
Jack Butcher, Founder of Visualize Value, has the best way of explaining these concepts through present graphic designs and his message is ironic because he is combining his skills of digital marketing with his passions of graphic design to create a graphic digital marketing company which conveys these messages of leverage, digital entrepreneurship and more interesting topics ranging from product management to timeless business or life philosophy. What makes Jack’s thinking really exciting is that he is intuitive and creative and builds in public. Meaning he thinks, tweets or develops digital products on the fly, rapidly iterates and ships quickly. He also has a build once, sell twice philosophy, which is really about building digital content and digital products and selling or shipping them at the scale of the internet delivered to millions of followers around the world on cross-platforms at low or a 0 marginal cost.
Jack Butcher argues that wealth creation through the internet is creating an age of infinite leverage for online entrepreneurs because they can build a product (easiest example is in the form of digital content), find various communities to connect with and build digital global brands without middlemen. Many technology entrepreneurs, founders and investors now believe this process of creative destruction and digital disintermediation so fundamentally which is why they are so passionate about their work and their message of freedom through this age of internet abundance.
Li Jin, Partner at Andreessen Horowitz talks with Anthony Pompliano of the Pomp Podcast about the passion economy and the emerging creator economy which is pretty similar and is still just at the beginning where the internet is allowing more people to become digital creators, and get paid doing what they are passionate about.
Naval Ravikant, the Founder of AngelList, argues that in today’s economy the best way to get rich is to build wealth through information technologies and entrepreneurship. His tweetstorm “How to Get Rich (without getting lucky)” was the best Twitter Threads on these topics of wealth creation in the 21st century.
Naval has done many podcasts also where he gives his wisdom on how to create massive wealth and abundance through the internet. But the best way to get rich and build wealth is by being a business owner, entrepreneur or investor (preferably in technology), leveraging the scale of the internet, human ingenuity, creativity and passion and connecting with the right audience. The part of owning equity is very important and is what’s missing in much of today’s education system. That’s why our financial system is based too much on relying on short-term debt and monetary inflation rather than building longer-term equity and technological deflation. And too many people in America spend the majority of their lives working and maybe earning income but never truly building financial independence. Now most entrepreneurs and investors still continue working after they achieve financial independence, but financial independence is crucial because it gives people freedom from the monetary and economic system based on debt and slaving away at a 9-5 for one’s entire life. Having that choice of working on projects you truly love and are passionate about after having financial freedom so you don’t have to live to work, but can live to learn, enjoy, explore and create without any strings or stress attached is the ultimate goal I think.
Naval Ravikant, Warren Buffet and many other very successful entrepreneurs or investors believe the same fundamental principle that the ultimate goal should be financial freedom so that people can generate a return on their investments/assets/businesses while they sleep so that they don’t have to “work for a living”. Naval Ravikant and Warren Buffet both believe in the power of compounding and compound interest when it comes to thinking about investing and business philosophy. Naval’s philosophy however is more nuanced and has a new-age Silicon-Valley (Steve Jobs-esque) technology orientation because he says that the best way to build equity is through internet businesses, where you can already combine your true passions, skills, creativity and resourcefulness in order to build wealth while doing what you love every single second. And that I think is a beautiful life and business philosophy which is possible.
Because the internet is shifting business models rapidly now more than ever to Direct-To-Consumer so people can make a living doing what they live on the internet by following that process combined with their unique passions and niche obsesssions and connecting with others directly who have those unique passions and niche obsessions. The Internet is accelerating digitalization and globalization now more than ever and his points are very true when you think about the massive technological shifts occurring and the biggest winners of today’s economy. Digital Entrepreneurship and the passion economy will trump the 9-5 and I think the days of traditional corporate structures, and soul-crushing 9-5 jobs are ending with this transition to technological abundance.
For employees and workers in the gig economy, however, paradoxically the benefits have not been the best but that’s a debate for another time. One thing is for certain however, consumers and workers now have access to the same abundance of choices available in today’s world such as the information that has become abundantly available on the internet today.
If you take something like Uber or Lyft and what they did to Taxis, what Netflix did to Blockbuster and what Amazon did to Retail. And now if you imagine other industries and how new exponential converging technologies may do the same exact thing to those as well.
Keep in mind the growing list of converging exponential technologies as well as digital infrastructure on our list. They include 3D Printing, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, Smarthomes, Smartcities, Smartphones, Autonomous Vehicles, VTOL (Flying Cars), Neuromorphic (Brain Computing Architecture) Chips, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, CRISPR-Cas9, Genomics, 5G Networks, 1 Trillion Sensors, Robotics, Clean Energy Technologies.
This is a dream for sci-fi geeks and technophiles. However what is a dream come true for some is a nightmare come true for others. And I believe that all of these technologies maturing and accelerating at the same time is creating a lot of tailwinds that we probably will not recognize right now.
However these exponential technologies and disruptive innovation will also make every industry that has not yet been, soon be dematerialized, decentralized, demonetized, and digitalized. What that means is that every good and service will probably become accessible and nearly free at a close to if not at 0 marginal cost to the consumer probably within this decade itself bringing about unprecedented abundance. This is why I say we are heading towards Techno-Socialism.
Peter Diamandis, the Founder of XPRIZE and Co-Founder at Singularity University says that these exponential technologies can create a world of abundance and already are through the process of dematerialization, decentralization, demonetization and digitalization. The entrepreneurs who have the mindset and the passion can leverage exponential technologies and these paradigm shifts to change the world for the better according to Peter.
And Elon Musk is the premier example of one such exponential entrepreneur who is changing the world for the better through disruptive business models and exponential technologies with all the companies he runs most notably Tesla, SpaceX and Neuralink. Elon Musk is pioneering a better future for humanity and is the ultimate inspirational tech entrepreneur who innovates purposefully and disrupts entire industries for the better (such as forcing the entire Auto Industry to pivot to Electric Vehicles and Full Self Driving Features).
This is certain to happen. The questions that are important are a few fold however.
What economic safety nets can we have in place for the interim as we enter what we can call as Future Shock? (This is why I and I think many are advocating for a Universal Basic Income or UBI although that raises certain questions as well then which is up for another debate).
How will we govern a society in which the marginal cost of goods and services is near 0 or where everything is nearly free?
What will people do in this society when it comes to fruition more and more and exponential technological advances create this type of abundance.
What will the negative impacts or unintended consequences be of this type of society and how can those be mitigated or minimized?
How do we redistribute the massive wealth that will most likely be concentrated in the hands of a few Hi-Tech companies? Should we think about data dividends like Andrew Yang proposed and take his Data Dividend Project more seriously which attempts to redistribute some of the wealth generated from the tech companies by user data and give some of it back to users?