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The internet arms race, and the need for resilience

The internet has unlocked a myriad of opportunities. These opportunities are going to both create and destroy industries and careers.

If you’re young and nimble, it’s not so bad. If you’re old and stuck in your ways, it could be disastrous.

Whichever side of the coin you’re on, unless you’ve got wealth safely stored away in inflation-resistant assets, it’s going to mean disruption.

These coming changes make the need for individual resilience more important than ever.

Below is a little narrative I wrote in 2019, but still applies today (I think). The 2020 Covid pandemic only accelerated things, and Chat-GPT confirmed them.

First, let’s paint a picture

It’s 2019, and we’re on an exponential growth curve in terms of technological progress.

It’s possible right now to life in extreme comfort and convenience, however for the majority, this is out of reach.

Image credit chappatte

60 years ago there were ~3 billion people on the planet. Right now there are over 7 billion. By 2050 there will be almost 10 billion.

Image source: Our World in Data

There’s a huge global competition for resources, help fueled by almost universal access to the internet.

This levels the playing field, meaning a poor child in Africa can access the world’s knowledge similar to the way a wealthy Western child can.

Major cities are already feeling this strain of population growth and knowledge dispersal – with mass migration towards major hubs pushing their housing market prices to all-time highs.

Image source: The Economist

Large-scale migration from less economically developed areas, to more economically developed areas continues to increase. Accelerated by access to smartphones and better transport.

Image Source: Huffington Post

Corporations continue to grow in size, wealth and influence. Setting high customer experience standards, and making it difficult for independent businesses to compete.

Image source: Tucson Sentinel

Robot and computer automation continue to reduce the labor force required, and this trend shows no abating.

Image source

We are all participating in a technological arms race for resources, whether we like it or not.

This technological shift, like all the ones that have gone before it, is going to cause massive disruption to the way we live our lives.

Right or Wrong? Good or Bad?

Whether these changes are right or wrong can be debated, what we know for sure is that they ARE happening – and the rate of change is only going to increase.

Are these changes good or bad? As with any disruption, there will be newly created opportunities, but there will also be destruction. To thrive we need to be switched on to the opportunities

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1. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

2. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

I have no doubt that humans are by default, resilient.

Image source: safety4sea

But I also believe that there are specific things we can do to increase our resilience.

Example: Take a radiographer in the year 2021, who “all of a sudden” has their job replaced by a computer that is 10x faster and more accurate than the best human radiographer. Can this now unemployed, yet capable human bounce back from losing their job, and quickly earn a new income? Absolutely.

Would be easier however if they had already diversified their income streams, created an emergency cash fund and cleared off unnecessary debts? No doubt.

Time & Money

Image Source: Project Syndicate

Money transformed society into what we take for granted today.

Its ability to be exchanged for (almost) anything makes it very useful for resilience.

Can money fix my health? No, but it can give me access to medical care and health experts who can help.

Can money bring me friends? No, but it can buy me the time to seek out people of like mind.

Can money bring me happiness? No, but it can help me avoid things that take away from happiness, and pay for activities that bring excitement.

We know that money doesn’t solve everything, but we also know that lack of money is a huge impediment to one’s choices in life.

Maslow’s Hierarchy: At an extreme, lack of money restricts how far you can climb on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. One of the reasons that developing countries struggle to organize and improve their collective standard of living is that their citizens lack the basic bottom rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy. Things like clean water, nutritious food, safety, and stability. Without those, unfortunately, humans revert to survival mode, which means they live day to day, and have difficulty planning for the long term.

Image source: Peachey Publications

Now that’s an extreme, but also in “developed” societies, similar principles apply.

Until you can build some financial security, your ability to think and plan long-term is impaired. Making financial security foundational to a resilience strategy.

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