The Unique Property
Welcome to the Out Of Work Generation
You can watch this presentation on Youtube:
Let's start this week's blog with the beginnings of a list of
jobs that probably won't exist by the end of this decade. The
list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, but let's start with
some obvious things.
We already have level 4 autonomous driving vehicles on the
public roads. Level 5 will require no driver at all. We should
hit that level sometime over the course of 2022. What's that
going to do to taxi drivers and truck drivers? We already also
have autonomous delivery pods which will get rid of the local
delivery vans. As time goes on that will wipe out a serious
number of jobs.
Banks are becoming increasingly pointless, cumbersome and
expensive. 95% of my banking needs are now taken care of by
automated banking systems. By the end of this decade I seriously
wonder if there will be a high street bank left in the modern
world. Peer to peer payments are already common using blockchain
based banks, and the costs are negligible. I live in Portugal
where the banking system is expensive and an absolute nightmare
of pointless paperwork. It even takes between five and ten
minutes just to pay money into an account over the counter. What
are these idiots doing? Yes, I know, they are hindering me and
wasting my time. I dont need them, and neither do you. More
Borrowing money, investing money, swapping between
jurisdictions. I do it all online using blockchain technology.
It takes me seconds and I dont have to leave my armchair. If
high street bank employees are still at their desks in the
thirties then god help us.
We have intelligent contracts. Initially there will be a few
cock-ups as the writers of these contracts learn the new
routines, but the new way of doing things will undoubtedly start
to decimate legal firm's current business.
And who is going to need conveyancers when the Land Registry
goes over to blockchain technology? You will be able to transfer
your house to someone else in minutes and at low cost using the
new technology, which already exists. It merely needs
implementing at scale.
Middlemen will be cut down in swathes as this new technology
sweeps the world.
Even in the service industries do you honestly think people
won't be made redundant? There are even machines that can
vaccinate you. Call centres can now be serviced by AIs with the
ability to carry on conversations with clients, and it is
difficult to tell that you are indeed talking to a machine.
Let me go one stage further with this.
The general feeling is that all of this will not lead to people
being put on the dole because the new disciplines will in turn
need more workers.
I think there is an obvious answer to that. With the advance of
Artificial Intelligence (AI), machines can be programmed to
learn and to do almost any task that a human can do. These
machines will be smarter, and cheaper than humans, and they will
put vast swathes of the population out of work. And this will
start to happen in a couple of years time.
What is all this going to do to the tax take?
People go to work. Once they start earning a certain amount of
money, a percentage of that money is stopped from their wage
packet and sent off to the tax-man. From there it goes to the
government. The government then uses that money to pay, among
other things, benefits.
As time has progressed, so have the adjuncts that workers have
used to increase productivity. As those adjuncts take over more
and more work, why not tax them as well, or preferably instead?
The more you tax mechanical devices, the more incentive there
will be to streamline the services they perform, and therefore
the work needed to be done by those devices, thus encouraging
efficiency in business.
This move to taxing the mechanical workers will cut business
expenses drastically. The tax take will rise, but the wages bill
will drop through the floor, thus making the production of goods
much cheaper, thus reducing the cost of living.
Wait a minute, doesn't this sound pretty good after all? There
is now some money to pay the laid-off workers. There is still a
problem with what they do with their time, but that is another
These days, not only can we watch football matches courtesy of a
television channel, or a specialised sports channel, or even
Youtube, but we can even watch robots playing football. Is that
the ultimate in exclusion for humans in sport?
Actually, I suspect not. Within a year or two we will be able to
choose a robot player in a digital game, take it off the field,
and, courtesy of augmented reality (AR), replace it with
Where is all this leading?
Actually, in several directions. It is making everything
abstract, or digital. We dispense with the football, the
players, even the spectators, and even dispense in one sense
with ourselves, as we transfer our physical body into a digital
one, and play with that. To put that another way, we create an
avatar for ourselves and put that avatar into the game, and
control it while we stay safely back home.
This approach to the world dispenses with the need to go
anywhere. It even transforms the space we appear to inhabit. We
effectively can strap ourselves into our own individually
Isn't this the perfect way to deal with social distancing?
An unlikely way forward?
Not a bit of it. At this stage I am not going to say that such a
world is just around the corner, but I certainly would not be
surprised if it is. Let me explain.
Have you ever walked down a street or across a park, or sat on a
train and noticed just how many people are somewhere else?
Yes, they are in a digital world that they enter courtesy of
their mobile phone. They are not talking to the person next to
them, they are talking to someone miles away across a digital
link. They could even be talking to a digital entity. Most of
these people probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
Some of you may recognise the significance of that previous
sentence. Remember Alan Turing and his Turing Test?
A computer has really reached its apogee when a person can sit
in one room and talk to a machine in the other room and he cant
tell if it is a computer.
This situation is already with us, so expect all those help
lines to become automated over the next couple of years. And
what does an office need a front desk for? Just give people a
Let me refer you to an intriguing program that is available to
watch on Youtube called No Sex Please We're Japanese.
We already have people caring for Tamagotchis, which are digital
pets. The program mentioned above delved further into this
obsession with digital pets and playmates.
Never mind the pets, what about the playmates?
Some way into the program the lady interviewer asks two Japanese
guys a searching question. “Which do you prefer, your wife or
your digital playmate?”
There follows a rather stunning silence as they consider the
question. They actually have to think deeply about the answer.
Yikes! Where are we heading?
Clearly, we are already heading into a world that is content
with physical social distancing as our digital partners are
shaping up pretty well as alternatives.
And holidays are about to get a lot cheaper and a lot more
exciting, with even more people out of work. Dont send your kids
into the hospitality sector.
Want to go over the Iguaçu falls in a canoe? Easy. And you can
do it much better using AR than actually visiting the site.
Why is this?
It will cost nothing. There is no long-haul jet flight. There is
no disappointing hotel. And you can view the falls from several
places without moving, and even go over the falls in that canoe
and survive. You can appreciate the beauty, the excitement, the
fear, all with no cost and no damage. What's not to like?
And later this year all of this will start to be possible as AR
is rolled out to a mobile phone near you.
Next week I will have a closer look at how this can all be paid