Monday, August 08, 2022

Elder Care, AI and Insurance with Expert Paul Tyler

In the next 28 years, the global population of humans over the age of 65 will nearly double.  In that same timeframe, the population of people over age 80 will triple.  All of these developments are coming simultaneously as we are about to achieve significant life extensions.  These developments will change the world.  What will all this mean for the future of retirement, social services, healthcare, the economy, and elder care?  Join us for this discussion with expert Paul Tyler, CMO with Nassau Financial Group, a company focused on term life, final expense policies, fixed annuities, delivering guaranteed income, protecting savings, and paying for healthcare costs.



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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

The Loss of Distance and Justification to Worry

Historically distance has limited what we must worry about.  Our cave-dwelling ancestors only had to worry about being heard, seen or smelled by predators or enemies in their immediate surroundings. 

As humans scaled up armies could retreat and separate themselves by 100 miles, which during the Roman era equated to 5 days of marching.  That meant they didn't have to worry about a battle happening for at least 5 days.  Today it is different. One hundred miles equates to mere seconds. The security of distance has died.  Today, we must worry about wider circles.

A hypersonic missile can reach the other side of the earth in minutes.  As a result, nations and their military commanders must now make critical decisions in seconds. In some ways this might reduce worry - as the object of concern happens before we even know it.  It does, however, highlight the existential risk that results from the death of distance and our need to pay attention to wider circles.

As the speed of communications, information and movement increased, so also the justification for worry.  Threats beyond the mountains and over the horizon now concern us.  Today, competition and threats can be instant, global and projected via satellite.  Cyber attacks, information operations and social engineering campaigns, disinformation, reputational attacks and election interferences can all come from locations anywhere in the world.  Again, distance has lost its defensive value.

Paul Virilio, a philosopher of speed that I quote routinely, wrote at length about the impact of speed and distance (or the lack thereof) on society.  He wrote that speed compresses both time and distance. Where once it took information in the form of a letter nearly 6 months to arrive on the other side of the world, a chat message today can now arrive instantaneously.  Today's near real-time communications has already changed how nations are governed, markets operate and commerce is conducted.  The irrelevance of distance, and the un-human time frames involved mean humans are quickly giving way to automation, AI and algorithms in these processes.

Compressed times and distances also mean businesses must operate at an operational tempo that surpasses human capabilities.  To support real-time digital interactions, organizations will increasingly need to compete with and depend upon automation and artificial intelligence to deliver exceptional experiences, make decisions and deliver products and services at the speeds required by today's consumers.

Increasingly, in a world of compressed times and distances, humans will be the inventors, designers and managers of systems and processes, rather than the operators.  Operations will be measured in milliseconds, a speed where only the machines can deliver - so don't you worry about it.  

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

The Cultural Trait that Changed the World

In Oded Galor's insightful book, The Journey of Humanity, she analyzes history to reveal patterns that led to accelerated progress and higher standards of living. Some of the cultural traits that positively impacted societies include cooperation, trust, higher levels of gender equality, an entrepreneurial spirit and a future-oriented mindset.  

In addition to the cultural traits, Galor identified good and bad geographies for food production, the kinds of institutions that are helpful, and  the right amount of diversity that helps improve a region's standard of living.  We learn that diversity helps up to the point where it jeopardizes social cohesion.

In Galor's book we also learn that throughout our entire history, humanity has rarely been able to improve their standard of living for more than a few generations before it quickly dropped back to subsistence levels.  This phenomena is identified by several different terms including Malthusian forces, Malthusian Trap or Malthusian theories after the cleric Thomas Malthus, who wrote a paper about it in 1798. Malthus argued that bounties in the form of extra food lead to higher birth rates and lower mortality rates, which resulted in populations that grew to the point where, again, there was not enough food to eat.  Not enough food means higher mortality rates and lower birth rates, and a return to a subsistent standard of living. Time and time again this theory has been demonstrated and the average standard of living remained unchanged for most of human history.  A farmer's standard of living in Africa was very much like a farmer's standard of living in Asia, South America and Europe.  Subsistence is subsistence no matter the location.  Humans could not seem to find a way out of this cycle.

The formula for overcoming the Malthusian forces was only discovered during the past two hundred years.  It consisted of three things - lower birth rates, more food and increased investments in human capital, i.e. education.  In other words, if you can produce extra food, while keeping the birth rates low, then you can afford to both educate and feed your kids.  Without innovative ways to produce more food, people were forced to work full time at food production.  It is only when there was enough food produced that kids could be taken out of the labor force to be educated.  

Geographies that had cultural traits that enabled their societies to work together to improve food production were the first to escape the Malthusian forces.  They were able to cooperate to build shared irrigation systems, roads, bridges, financial systems, canals and dams, etc., all of which helped increase food production. 

Large projects required communities that could organize and work together, and had enough of a food abundance to support scholars, professionals and an entrepreneurial business class.  Societies without the cultural traits of cooperation, trust and a future-oriented mindset were not able to organize in order to gain these mutual benefits, which made it harder for them to escape the Malthusian forces.

With increases in education came massive increases in economic development in the form of innovation, inventions, businesses, art, and dramatic improvements in the standard of living in the West, and later across the entire globe.  The courageous and risky belief that higher levels of education would ultimately lead to economic development and a higher standard of living required one particular unique cultural trait - a future-oriented mindset. A future-oriented mindset means you have the belief that you can make progress against the challenges in front of you.  A belief that you can influence the future by making wise decisions and investments today.  That cultural trait, in particular - changed the world.  

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Kevin Benedict
Partner | Futurist at TCS
View my profile on LinkedIn
Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.