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The Robots are coming. Humans are becoming redundant. What are we going to do with them?

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The Robots Are Coming

This is another chapter from my latest book: How to Destroy the World, and How to Pay for it

NewTech is bringing prices down on every front.
As usual, a small aside to show you how I am thinking here.
Ripple, a blockchain company specialising in money transfers, invested $30 million into legacy money transfer giant MoneyGram.
In return, MoneyGram implemented Ripple’s xRapid platform to facilitate cross-border transactions using Ripple’s digital currency (XRP).
For Ripple, this move broadened exposure. And this is a competitive advantage for MoneyGram that will enable the company to lower the transaction fees it charges.
MoneyGram usually takes 10–12% off every money transfer a customer makes just to be profitable. That means customers can send $100 to family members, but they will only receive $88–90.
With Ripple, MoneyGram’s fees will drop to pennies on the dollar. When customers send $100, $99 and change will get where it’s going. Everyone wins. The only losers are MoneyGram’s competitors, like Western Union.
Now let's have a brief look at what Tesla is doing.
The upcoming premium version of Autopilot will be fully autonomous. We will be able to have our Tesla drive us from Point A to Point B without us ever needing to touch the steering wheel.
Tesla was very clever with its business model.
It sells or leases the car, and then it offers software upgrades like Autopilot for additional fees. Autopilot can be purchased for $7,000 outright, but that steep price tag is out of range for most consumers. That is why a subscription model is so attractive.
Early estimations for the premium Autopilot package are just over $100 per month. Tesla is imitating Silicon Valley software companies by choosing a software-as-a-service strategy. These models have been remarkably successful over the last decade.
How many Tesla owners wouldn’t pay $100 per month to have the car drive itself? It’s a great value proposition.
And then what happens when Tesla turns on its autonomous taxi network?
Tesla’s taxi network will allow anyone who owns a Tesla with the 100% self-driving package to put their car to work when they aren’t using it. The car will go out and provide taxi rides to consumers until it’s summoned back to the owner.
The owner will receive a large portion of the revenue generated from these rides, which means the Tesla will ultimately pay for itself. At that point, the car is free for all practical purposes.
Who wouldn’t want to own a Tesla then? Think about it… Sign a lease for a Tesla Model 3, and drive it home. Then, monthly revenue from the robotic taxi service pays for the lease and then some.

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Square’s Cash App is growing like crazy. This is Square’s money transferring application. The app allows peer-to-peer money transfers with the push of a button.
Square’s quarterly report shows that the Cash App’s gross profit grew 115% year-over-year. That’s amazing growth for such a large platform.
The Cash App facilitated $222 million in dollar-based transactions last quarter. That’s a solid base.
And the company saw a spike in direct deposits into the Cash App. That means more consumers are choosing to have their paychecks deposited into the Cash App rather than a traditional bank account.
If consumers can save, invest, and buy goods and services through the Cash App, what’s the point of having a bank account? Consumers can even buy stocks on the Cash App.
Square Cash cuts out the middleman and makes it so consumers never have to physically touch anything. All transactions are digital.
There are two interesting aspects to this and similar situations.
First, a whole sector of the current commercial part of society is being made redundant.
Disintermediation was a buzzword in the nineties. It means getting rid of middlemen. However, blockchain is going to usher in some serious disintermediation.
Why need a bank if all your money needs can be dealt with digitally by simply using an app?
Self driving vehicles are going to put taxi drivers out of work. How about truck drivers?
Who's going to want to employ a truck driver when the truck can drive itself, and drive for hours without a break?
When smart contracts become the norm, how many more businesses will go the same way?
As blockchains and smart contracts become more common and even more sophisticated, a whole raft of disciplines will vanish. Why would you need lawyers to deal with contractual arguments when smart contracts control most deals? There are bound to be residual arguments that need testing, but over time the more straightforward arguments will not need arguing, unless someone has used a badly-written smart contract (a not-so-smart contract) in the first place.
Real estate conveyancers will become history very quickly once the land registry goes over to a blockchain. As with every other case there will be a short period when things change from one system to the other, but once that change has taken place, conveyancers will also be a thing of the past.
There is scarcely a business which cant be transformed by the use of distributed ledgers. These developments are being used to transform the logistics businesses, including the scheduling of goods and container ships, routing and delivering goods both nationally and internationally.
One further example of the move towards an almost fully-digital connected world is the development of implants to monitor health. These implants, once the 5G networks are in place, will be able to be linked to digital medical centres to monitor health, and maybe in time either transmit instructions to the person, or even, in cases where the patient already has a further implant such as a heart monitor, to alter the implanted device in order to deal with changes within the body.
This will, one hopes, cut down on the number of people needing to be monitored and treated in hospital.
There is, of course, another way of looking at this.
Once you have an implant which is programmable by someone else, you are immediately allowing control of yourself to someone else. I hardly need point out how dangerous that would be.
Not only are whole businesses being transformed, made more efficient, and operated more cheaply, but in the process whole swathes of jobs are disappearing almost by the day.
These new modes of operation are also able to be adapted by self-learning routines as artificial intelligence begins to be used in more and more applications. We are approaching the point where these new technologies can be made self operating, self learning, self improving, and self repairing.
This means that although initially these new technologies will generate more jobs, ultimately those new jobs will also be able to be done by robots.
Unskilled labour will disappear rather rapidly, and jobs requiring the various levels of intelligence will gradually go as well.

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Central governments will want to maintain control of the state currency.
China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, is already testing its new purely digital version of the renminbi, China’s national currency.
The app handles all transactions. It also has a built-in digital currency exchange. It’s everything citizens need to earn, save, and spend in the country’s new digital currency.
The U.S. won’t be far behind with a purely digital version of the dollar. Indeed, several countries are already experimenting with similar developments.
Removing banknotes from circulation will force people to transact on a single platform, using only a digital version of the country's currency.
This will set the stage for a major showdown between centralized digital currencies such as a U.S. digital dollar and decentralized cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.
Don’t be surprised when you walk into a store and see a sign: “We accept bitcoin and U.S. e-dollars.”
The digital currency revolution isn’t years away, it's right here.

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