If you believe that a technological singularity is coming in the 2030’s, is there anything you can do now to prepare? Yes, plenty:
As increasing automation replaces rote human labor with machines, work that requires creativity, adaptability, and self-direction is becoming more valuable. Expert systems will augment and then replace technicians, and deep understanding and expertise will fall in importance relative to broad cross-functional heuristics. Engineering and programming will increasingly be performed by creatives working with high-level design tools, while algorithms work out the technical details. “Employment” itself will become obsolete, and most work will be performed by either temp workers waiting to be obsoleted by AI or entrepreneurs.
The majority of the legacy workforce will gradually discover that their technical expertise is irrelevant and spend the rest of their lives living on welfare and consuming media – probably playing nostalgic games in a holodeck or having virtual orgies. While many people would not have a problem with such a lifestyle, given that I don’t have a TV or a Netflix account, I would rather develop skills that require higher-level skills. Rapid technological change, automation, and on-demand, on-site manufacturing will make highly specialized roles obsolete. Future-proofed workers will need to develop a high-level understanding of research, creative, technology, and marketing, while algorithms work out the details.
There are two likely possibilities: either pre-singularity differences in material wealth will be nullified (because the AI’s eat us, or standardize our resource utilization), or they will be dramatically amplified, as the value of capital goods increases exponentially.
Rapid technological progress will make predicting successful companies and sector impossible as billion dollar startups rise and fall overnight. Therefore, a highly diversified, international (intergalactic?) portfolio may offer the safest returns. If existing property claims survive, they may be magnified a million fold or more, so $1000 may become a million, and even modest portfolios may be worth a few star systems.
Furthermore, technology-independent resources such as land and broad ETFs will be more stable than fixed capital assets such as cars, houses, currencies, precious metals, etc. How can we know what assets are still relevant when the economy transitions to new paradigm every night? That will require a degree of social adaptability:
Rapid shifts in technology will enable rapid cultural evolution. New fashion trends will drive demand for new products and technological sectors, just as the invention of the smartphone created new markets and changes work and leisure in the last 10 years.
When most humans are freed up from the need to work, the economic and cultural focus will shift to leisure goods and new kinds of entrepreneurial activity (asteroid mining, undersea colonies, etc). It will be increasingly difficult and yet crucial to stay aware of the cultural trends.
Furthermore, constraints such as ethnicity, gender, sexuality, species, consciousness etc, will become increasingly fluid and amorphous. We’ll need to become tolerant of and respectful of lifestyle and identify choices that we cannot imagine today. Today’s culture wars over transgender people will seem laughable when it will be trivial to change one’s sex overnight, and then back again. We’ll be much more concerned with questions of identity and ethics raised by uploaded, cloned, and synthetic beings. Will our base-human bodies remain relevant in such a world?
As the singularity approaches, traditional medical treatment paradigms will be overtaken by new ones:
first: personalized medicine based on test automation and DNA profiles,
second: nanotechnology and synthetic biology (such as stem-cell) treatments, and finally,
third: large-scale bioengineering (growing organs and bodies ex-vivo) and/or mind uploading.
The focus will shift from medicine that treats problems to bioengineering existing and new humans in order to improve on nature.
These changes already face fierce resistance from our monopolistic social-political structures. It will up to you to take charge of your biological evolution. For example, because the US government prohibits companies like 23andme from informing customers about the full health implications of their DNA, I exported the raw DNA data for my family and analyzed it using Promethease to get our risk profiles using the latest research. (I also a found a relative from my birth county in Ukraine.)
I spent a month in Thailand getting medical treatments which would have been prohibitively expensive in the USA. In 2010, rather than rely on the medical monopoly’s recommendations, we adopted a low-carb, Paleolithic-style diet and dramatically improved our health.
If you want to take advantage of radical new health innovations, you will need to perform your own research on radical opportunity for both repairing and augmenting your biology.