Future Economics — Will Future-Tech Improve Humanity’s Standards of Living?
Originally Published: 20/November/2016
The relationship between economics and technology is one that has always been symbiotic in nature. Where economics is studying how to maximise the efficient use of our finite resources, technology is the collection of means, techniques, and skill sets to help aide and accomplish the production of goods and services with these finite resources. Through the pairing of these arts, it has allowed improvement in a nations PPF and social welfare inclinations. So with the current situation between economics and technology, how will future-tech and future-economics play out?
The next 50–100 years will be very exciting times from an economic-technological stand point. Revolutions in the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors will have changed humanity so much that our ways of thinking will become more inclusive and deeper, especially concerning our actions on a global scale. The future of technology and economics will be innovation born from human necessity and ingenuity by pushing the boundaries to help us realise that the dreams we have will soon cross into reality with many benefits and detriments coming to us in the future.
The Benefit for Humanity through Future-Tech and Future Economics
The future will hold brightness in it for the potential that economics and technology will have on the world and those of us in it. All industries and sectors of business will be affected by technological advancement or economic objectives in varying degrees. Some of the industries to see a huge benefit will be
Health: Personalised healthcare becoming more used.
Data: How human generated data is going to be like gold in valuation for projections and trends in consumption.
Education: Technology will allow the students to visualise processes such as how viruses invade a host body and multiply.
Food: Longer lasting, better tasting, more abundant, smarter grown, greener production, and healthier food options.
Transport: Cleaner engine propulsion and driverless vehicles.
Water: Effective desalinisation techniques and irrigation processes on a warming planet.
Production; Better technology will allow for more end products to be made from fewer inputs for better quality goods/services.
Nanotechnology: The use of nanotech in a mechanical or biological way to help in the breakdown of oil spills and other pollutants.
Computing: Faster computing power will allow for better and far superior communication, banking, and space exploration.
Prosthetics: Humans with loss of limbs or organs will have life like prosthetics to prevent diminished standard of living and continued autonomy in day to day life.
Some short examples of a few of these heading can be seen below;
Health: The human body will have monitors either external (mobile phone) or internal (nanotechnology) to observe the homeostasis of a body and to understand if it is balanced or not. Detecting the onset of illness could prevent decreases in output.
Transport: Driverless vehicles will be much more prevalent. They will be faster and safer as computer technology will be able to assess possible destructive situations and avoid accidents. More space fairing missions will be available with the starting of a proper effort to transport resources to aide in the colonising of planetary or asteroid bodies for minerals. On planet surfaces, renewable energy propulsion systems will be dominant. These new industries or expanding industries will be innovative and help increase the workforce of nations.
Water: Clean water technology to combat pollution with the increased likelihood of acid rain and the protective effect this purification technology will have on land set aside for forestry and traditional agriculture. This will also help protect and aide in the recovery of natural landscapes and seascapes that have not been total destroyed by pollution.
The Detriments for Humanity through Future-Tech and Future Economics
Even though the future holds many benefits, those benefits come with detrimental attachments as the world develops and advances further. These detriments are harmful to the welfare of people as well as firms in an economic viewpoint because technology can also be used for harm and not only positive advancement. Some of these harmful effects can be;
Hyper-consumerism: Unchecked human consumption for the sake of consumption has levels of consumerism that are not warranted. This is best showcased in the close to end of year “Black Friday” shopping stampedes that bring out the worst in human nature for a deal on a television. It gives an unfiltered look at the state of a nations psyche when seeing how people will waste time lining up for days to engage in combat in a shopping aisle with one another for a good they most likely don’t need, yet say they don’t have time to give back to their community in some regard. Society is only as strong as our weakest links and this shows one of them.
Junk Information Overload: Yellow page “journalism” is marketing in disguise that diminishes the word journalism and those who actually practice it. It is not about being right or factual, it is about being first and eliciting emotive responsive for engagement. Social media is now a perfect platform for giving opinions to everyone, even though some people are under informed, ill-informed, or don’t care but crave attention under the cloak of false public worry in an attempt to increase click through rates and ad revenue. The constant noise due to also being plugged in helps propagate this junk.
News Manipulation: Following on from the junk information, being first is more important than being factual, and due to shortened attention spans, news has become entertainment with a special fondness for fear and horror as negative news is more emotive and engaging than positive or cut and dry factual news.
Weapon/Armour/Explosive Advancements: One thing humans will always excel at is the inventive and reinventive ways in which we can kill one another. War therefore is big business, immensely profitable, and the best deterrent on the political stage as having a bigger stick helps further agendas whatever they may be.
Biological/Chemical/Computer Warfare: Seeing who you fight is one thing, but not being able to observe what is happening or why it is happening is another thing entirely. From smallpox to malware, it is very easy to bring countries to their knees by destroying the technological infrastructure we are over reliant on while simultaneously infecting and killing people to incapacitate decades of underfunded and neglected infrastructure like hospitals.
Job Losses: Seeing less skilled jobs being the first in the firing line to be taken over by robotics or humans willing to work for dirt cheap wages will be at the cost of human welfare and lack of upskilling opportunities. If current systems are still in place, if a universal basic income (UBI) is implemented, like what we have seen in the selective UBI light version of the pandemic unemployment payment schemes for those unfortunately affected by forced job losses, the welfare will be to good that people won’t bother to go back to work to contribute to society out of laziness or anti-work sentiment (the latter I can understand due to bastardised neoliberal policies and terrible management structures). This will leave the burden of paying tax, that will inevitable rise in many aspects of payment process or pushing inflation costs on to the consumer, that a resentment will be instilled in worker who are being laughed at by employers and UBI light recipients.
Some short examples of a few of these heading can be seen below;
Junk Information Overload: Overloading of junk information can unconsciously nudge people into mind-sets that disenfranchise them with their life and add to the depression level of an individual by comparing the highlights of people’s lives being broadcasted on social media to the chaotic behind the stage workings of your own. People can be led to do drastic things if they seem to not be able to showcase their highlight reels constantly to compete with other highlight reels. This induced depression that can come from constant comparison of others perceived amazing leisure time or well-regarded career can lead to decreases in productivity and missed work days.
Job Losses: The inevitable loss of human jobs to robotics will allow for increased production output and allow for factories to be run 24/7, but this is to the cost and impact on the welfare of those people who now have no way of providing for their families or themselves. Anger coming from this is what will cause political strife and usher in turbulent times of prolonged instability.
Now to take a brief look at the impacts that future technology will have on the various sectors of the economy.
Primary Sector — Industry of Extraction and Production of Raw Materials
Revolutions in urban agriculture will be part of every city. Taking a city like New York for example, various unused skyscrapers can be repurposed into vertical indoor hydroponic and aeroponic gardens and fields. Instead of using land on a horizontal plain, the multi-tiered buildings will have increased floor area in a vertical space. Crops such as maize, rice, potatoes, wheat, and various fruit and veg can be grown in a climate regulated environment (temperate, humidity, specific light spectrum, etc.)
In the next 100 years, the possibility of space mining isn’t that farfetched and with technology accelerating exponentially, harvesting raw materials from planets or asteroids could blow global GDP sky high and push the PPF of globalisation into an economy based around planetisation.
Secondary Sector — Manufacturing
It’s only a matter of time that the majority of labour based jobs will move from human workers to robotic workers, which will have a detrimental effect on the human labour force, put severe strain on Government welfare payments, and in turn impact the money spent on infrastructure and services unless a robotic construction and maintenance worker tax is placed on robots and their manufactures. This will then open up legal issues into robotic rights (stemming from taxation of all things) which are a staple of science fiction, especially in Isaac Asimov’s work, iRobot.
The refined oil industry will be heavily hit as the resource will come close to drying up or being substituted for greener energy. If steps aren’t taken to have an energy industry ready to take its place, then the world we have become accustomed too will not be the world we inhabit as so much depends on the oil market. If the change from one energy source to another isn’t phased in and done correctly with regards to carbon taxes, there will be a massive backlash from the public and standard of living will fall thus allowing a huge setback for environmentalism and global warming rectification policy.
Tertiary Sector — Services
Increases in personalised target marketing technology, more than likely advanced RFID chips based in mobile phones that will emit personal ID frequency to a public advert receiver, will be used. This would occur through the use of either external connection to the internet (mobile or watch) or internal connection (body implants) and the personalised frequency of these devices that say ‘this is you’. Improvements in everyday items like a home radio will have an emitter to pick up on personalised frequencies and pairing the data collected from the likes of browser history or time spent in specific shops, advertisements will be tailored to you and come on during the ad breaks of your favourite radio show.
Other uses in the future of services could be in the world of nanotechnology where if surgery was needed to reattached a severed spinal cord, repair a hole in the heart, or be used to help a body not reject a prosthetic leg augmentation for a soldier.
The economic impact of these improvements will in one way, allow for more open leisure time, but at the cost of work hours, which is something humans need as we are industrious and productive as a species. Increased knowledge of the world around us and marrying economics and technology/science can lay the architecture for the road we need to go down in order to progress as a species.
With the ever increased reliance on technology and computing, it is not hard to imagine that at some stage economic terrorists could try dismantling the biggest and most connected sectors e.g. banking and Government. The aftershocks of these attacks will upset world stability and growth. The sectors need to be secured by a fantastically decentralised DNS like connected structure so if trouble happens to one part of a sector, it can be cut off to prevent the economic virus from contaminating the rest of the sector and attached sectors, leading to an eventual collapse.
With the pushing of global PPF, globalisation will at some stage move into planetisation. This could cause future conflict, not necessarily violence, to arise and cause friction between inhabitants of different planets. For example, what we see on the world stage right now with globalisation out weighting a degree of national autonomy. Planetisation could out weight a degree of globalisation and national autonomy.
Finally, if GDP/capita increases, how will that effect population and does a countries culture dictate whether GDP/capita influences population or population influences GDP/capita? This is a thought with the four stages of a biological growth curve in mind being used on the human population of Earth, but that is an article for another day.
Jonathan McEvoy is an Irish based border control post inspector for the Irish Government and Europe Union who took up his role in 2019 in response to British withdrawal of trade agreements, which was a position taken up after time spent working within the financial services sector in Dubai. He is an economics and finance postgraduate from Waterford Institute of Technology and a community stalwart in his home city of Waterford having been elected to serve on many boards of directors around the city in a voluntary capacity. His love of writing has a deep theme of economics in every published article which talk about history, philosophy, finance, politics, and society. His writings are grounded in practical observations away from the theoretical hypothesis of hypothetical potentials. If you are looking for a modern digestible viewpoint on modern economic ideas with a focus practicality and no holding back, he is a writer for you.
Find Jonathan on the social platforms @jonathanmcev0y
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