New Rule of Money #5: The Need for Speed in the Information Age
Bucky Fuller made many predictions over his lifetime, and many have come true.
His predictions that have not yet come true require more time and advances in technology, but the two predictions that have haunted me the most are:
- He predicted that humans born after 1945, and who did not smoke, had a life expectancy of 140 years. He made his prediction based upon the accelerating acceleration in medical technology.
- He predicted unemployment would increase as computers replaced humans. He said:
“Man is going to be displaced altogether as a specialist by the computer. Man himself is being forced to reestablish, employ, and enjoy his innate ‘comprehensivity.’
Decades ago, in the ‘60s and ‘70s, he was predicting that unemployment would increase with advances in technology. He said the idea of “earning a living” would become an obsolete idea.
“We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living.”
I can hear Fuller saying to our class in 1983,
“In the future, it will make more sense to pay people to stay at home.”
He believed most people would be happy to be paid to stay at home. It would be good for our environment if fewer people were stuck in traffic driving to and from work, only to do jobs that did not make our world a better place.
He meant a few humans, paid to stay at home, would be inspired to do their “spirit’s work” and fulfill their god-given life’s purpose. He said millions would do things that he referred to as “spontaneously arousable” and people would begin to solve our planet’s problems, not for a paycheck, but because they wanted to solve the problem.
Fuller’s predictions are coming true, but my concern is this:
What will happen if billions of people are unemployed and live past 100?
Bucky also said that when the change went invisible, the speed of that change would increase exponentially—what he called accelerating acceleration.
Accelerating acceleration would occur when humanity transitioned from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.
He was worried that millions of people would not see quickly enough the changes technology brought to the world and that they would, as a result, be put out of work by technology and inventions that operate well outside their vision. He said,
“You cannot get out of the way of things you cannot see moving toward you.”
Today, you must be able to keep up with the pace of change in technology. This starts with understanding that we live in an age where information is a powerful currency, and knowledge is money. This is the key to keeping up with change.
The Information Age
In 1989, with the invention of the World Wide Web by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the world transitioned from the Industrial Age into the Information Age, and accelerating acceleration began.
Education, however, has not changed. Education remains frozen in time. Repeating the lesson from Sunday School, Hosea 4:6 (NIV):
“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”
In the 21st century, billions are being destroyed from a mere lack of knowledge.
After Fuller passed on, I’ve spent much of my time warning parents. It’s critical that we see how our educational system is ill equipped to prepare our children for the real world.
Nearly 100 percent of the time the parents I speak to say, “I know education is in trouble. But not in my child’s school. My child’s school is doing a great job. My kids are happy, they have fun, they cooperate, and they love their teacher.”
Or they say, “My children are very bright. One is in a great law school and the other is in graduate school working on his Ph.D. Both will have good, high-paying, secure jobs.”
As Fuller warned,
“People do not get out of the way of things they cannot see.”
This is an excerpt by Robert Reich, U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997. Concerned about the changes in employment that are on the way, Reich writes:
“I’m not just referring to big-brained robots taking over civilization from us smaller-brained humans, but the more imminent possibility they’ll take over our jobs.
It’s already happening. Robots and related forms of artificial intelligence are rapidly supplanting what remains of factory workers, call-center operators, and clerical staff. Amazon and other online platforms are booting out retail workers. We’ll soon be saying goodbye to truck drivers, warehouse personnel, and professionals who can do whatever can be replicated, including pharmacists, accountants, attorneys, diagnosticians, translators, and financial advisors. Machines may soon do a better job than doctors at scanning for cancer.
This does not mean a future without jobs, as some doomsayers predict. But robots will almost certainly push down wages in all the remaining human-touch jobs (child care, elder care, home health care, personal coaches, sales, and so on) that robots can’t do because they’re not, well, human. Even today, with technology having already displaced many workers, there’s no job crisis. …
Instead we have a good jobs crisis. … Today’s typical American worker earns around $44,500 a year, not much more than what the typical worker earned in 1979, adjusted for inflation. Nearly 80 percent of adult Americans say they live from paycheck to paycheck, many not knowing how big their next paycheck will be.”
Without real education, the gap between the rich and everyone else will grow, even if kids do well in school.
If the gap between rich and poor grows, the probability of civil unrest and revolution grows as well.
See the Future
Today’s invisible economy presents a growing problem for governments because governments are by-products of the Industrial Age.
The government is trying to collect taxes and define borders for the invisible economy of the Information Age. This problem for governments will grow if the invisible economy becomes too big, and the government cannot collect taxes or define borders. If this happens, the currency of the country will eventually weaken, simply because the power of a country’s currency is linked to its ability to collect taxes.
Dr. Fuller believed governments were obsolete. He believed that humanity was about to evolve or disappear because of the government’s diminishing powers.
Fuller believed that humans had to choose between the two Utopian worlds of greater personal integrity or bigger government. Otherwise, humanity, as we know it, would disappear.
In other words, we as individual human beings need to solve more problems rather than simply turning those problems over to the government.
One sure sign of the future is when things grow too big, and something small (or invisible) comes along to replace them.
For example, soon after the attack on the World Trade Center, Chevron, and Texaco, two giant companies, announced that they were merging to become a giant of an oil company. On the same page of the business section, a smaller company announced a breakthrough in fuel-cell technology, a new technology that has the potential of taking a lot of business away from big oil companies.
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs became very rich young men by seeing what big companies could not see. Bill Gates got the software contract for IBM’s PCs because IBM did not see the spread of powerful and smaller computers.
Steve Jobs became a rich man by using a technology that Xerox did not know how to market, a technology that helped create the Macintosh computer.
The information age comes with some major challenges our society has never had to face before that can pose a threat to our futures if we aren’t well prepared.
My advice? Continue to educate yourselves on these fast moving technologies, and don’t rely on a traditional education alone to prepare your children for the future.
Editor, Rich Dad Poor Dad Daily