A Decade In Review: 2010-2019

If you are a millennial (like me), you would agree that the last 10 years were interesting and full of ups and downs. We started this decade at the tail end of one of the worst recessions (2008-2010).

The economy then gradually started to recover in 2011 and since then has broken many records.

A Decade In Review

We saw governments around the world pour trillions of dollars into the economy to keep the financial engines humming. The actual impact of this excessive money printing is yet to be realized. I guess we’ll find out in the next 10 years.

We saw Bitcoin have its 15 minutes of fame in late 2017 and the Crypto market almost hit a Trillion dollars market cap.

We saw Brexit happen. We saw a narcissist idiot become the President of the United States. At the same time, we also witnessed Finland elect a group of young women (early to mid-thirties) to the country’s highest position.

We saw some significant growth in the specialized AI revolution. Google’s DeepMind defeated all of the world’s top Go champions. Machine Learning today sounds almost like a casual thing as data mining and analytics were in the previous decades.

We saw Elon Musk save Tesla and SpaceX. Telsa stock did reach $420 USD which is funny. We won’t go into that tangent but if you were following the news, you will get a giggle.

Game of Thrones premiered in 2011 and finished in 2019. Millions of people watched it around the globe. Perhaps, as one of the most successful TV shows of this decade, GOT truly was a cultural phenomenon.

Despite HBO stealing the crown for producing the best TV series, #Netflix was the best performing stock this decade. Well, Netflix and Chill even became a “thing”.

This decade also saw the Arab Spring, a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and rebellions that spread across much of the Islamic world. Caused by authoritarianism and corruption, the world witnessed Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen revolt against their own governments.

Similar equally powerful political shifts also happened in South Asian countries of Nepal, Pakistan, and India. In the Americas, Venezuela and Cuba joined the club with the citizen protesters. There are plenty of simmering unhappy forces of common citizens, sitting dormant; waiting for outbursts across the Latin world and Asia.

Overall, Nationalism and nationalistic sentiments were on the rise and the common people (always-connected by the Internet) wanted a better economy, equal rights, and hopes for a better future. This trend is likely to continue.

There were more than 50 wars (small to large) that were fought around the globe. Religion is still as powerful and influential as it was at the beginning of the 21st century. Mankind’s dependence on God to save itself reflects how governments around the world have failed its own citizens.

On the flip side, some folks and organizations around the world decided to look beyond the pale blue dot and mapped out their plans for colonizing Mars, Outer Space, and the Moon.

As many as a dozen countries and private companies around the world are thinking beyond the earth. However, despite the progress made up until 2019, Space Colonization is still a concept. We don’t know what we don’t know!

Speaking of Technological Progress

Technology, in general, saw impressive growth but nothing that was forecasted in the 1960s Sci-fi novels. We still didn’t get flying cars, global prosperity (end of poverty), time travel or space travel for that matter.

Cancer and cardiovascular diseases still kill millions each year. The human race is just one super-bug away from being decimated. The healthcare services on average suck around the world. We are still far too behind any meaningful goal post when it comes to our health and death.

The global ocean level rose more than by an inch in the past 10 years while the politicians are still debating if climate change is real or a hoax.

In the coming decade, we still have a lot to work on and worry about. From the ongoing refugee crisis to economic slowdowns to unpredictable climate changes to massive inequality around the globe, there is a lot of work for each one of us.

I would end this short post with a note that, yes, in 2019, we also saw one democratic candidate in the United States run on the platform for Universal Basic Income (UBI) for all. This is neither too early, nor too late.

In the hindsight, perhaps we will look at this decade and wonder if this was the right timeline to start thinking about bigger and bolder shifts in how humanity evolves in the 21st century.

We may have had a slow start with the promises of the 21st century but remember, we still have 80% of it left.

Outsourcing and Immigration: Human Labor as a Commodity

Anyone who is currently active in the workforce (any type of work) must have individually faced the growing impact of two related yet distinct global phenomena: Outsourcing and Immigration.

In short:

Outsourcing is: Capital —-> Cheap Labor

Immigration is: Capital <—- Cheap Labor

Outsourcing

When capital (money) moves to a country with a surplus and cheap labor, it’s Outsourcing. It’s not new and it is not just related to Information Technology. In older days, merchants will often set up a second base or partnerships in a foreign city or country which produced the raw materials or imported products for their primary business.

 

Immigration

When surplus and cheap labor moves to the money (bigger job market), it’s Immigration. A bigger and better job market could also mean more resources and hope for better living standards.

Immigration is also not new. The history of human evolution has been of constant migration from land to land, and island to island.

The labor force is a type of investment made by the businesses & entrepreneurs. Like commodities and resources, labor (and labor-cost) is part of the “expense” and therefore is a dividing factor to calculate productivity.

Since every business has competitors, it is “critical” that businesses have to keep their productivity higher at the lowest possible cost.

Supply and Demand

Most people will not complain, question, or even overthink when they buy a dozen of bananas for less than a dollar that came from South-Central America. Since bananas are cheaper in the south, it makes sense to move them to the north to balance the global supply-demand equation.

Same is true for honey, solar panels, lithium, gold, and tuna. And everything else, by the way, including human labor.

Human Labor as a Commodity

But if you take this logic to the next level, “generic labor” is no different from bananas or iPhones or cotton t-shirts. In other words, manual labor, for the most part, is yet another commodity.

Most people don’t see it that way because they have lived their whole life in an employee mindset with either large multi-national corporations or government agencies where the employees are often protected by either laws or regulations. 

It could also be that anyone not seeing this paradigm shift is not young enough to face the ever-increasing global competition in the job market.

In most Western countries, we live in government-controlled, mostly stable democracies that support some labor rights and unions that we consider our labor to be a different offering, often overvaluing ourselves.

But if you are the one running the business, to you ‘labor’ is no different from moving bananas or cotton from a low-cost place to a high-cost place. This is how any industry becomes more efficient, better, and cheaper for everyone anywhere in the entire world.

The global movement of money and labor (whether physically or over the internet) is what is constantly flattening the globe and smoothening the political-geographical divide between various nations.

Future of Money & Work

For most people who are just “employees” (read: labor), the best way to ensure your earning potential or even increasing it depends on improving your skills, or starting a business of your own (irrespective of size), or even relocating (read: immigration) to a lower cost (but relatively equally developed) destinations where your skills are far more valued than the local labor pool.

Unless the world goes completely backward where every country closes its borders (which won’t happen due to the rise of powerful technology and the internet), “outsourcing and immigration” will never stop (irrespective of local politics). This is the future of work.

From Immigration to Mars

More outsourcing of work, global bandwidth penetration, satellite internet, everyday use of VR/AR for communication, a workplace full of A.Is, automated machinery, and smart robots, global digital currencies — it’s all coming. And, for anyone reading this, it’s coming within our lifetime.

This is a rising trend which is not going to stop anytime soon. Instead, it’s going to take humans from one planet to the infinite vastness of space. To explore space and expand beyond earth, we humans, must first get flattened here on earth as one united species. We have to eventually learn to act as one.

The current trend of outsourcing of work, automation of repetitive, boring, dangerous, and laborious manual work, and immigration is good for all of us. That said, it is also important to note that like any other system, nothing is perfect and there is a lot of damage that is done by tax sheltering, poor immigration policies, and illogical outsourcing.

With that said, it is equally important to note that, this collective trend is bigger than any one of us. So, it’s going to happen, no matter what we personally feel about it. The best thing to do here is to embrace the good and work toward moving forward.

With quality immigration, applying Artifical Intelligence to complex fields such as medicine and law, and by automating repetitive and dangerous manual tasks, we are creating a free space for all humans where creativity and innovation can be applied. 

Losing a job or the prospect of losing your future employment is also the push for today’s entrepreneurial boom. And this is going to continue in coming decades. 

Conclusion

I’ll be the first to admit that this paradigm shift is easier said than done and there is still a long way in front of us. It is easy to intellectualize this than to feel the heat.

There will be challenges to overcome both at the collective level and at an individual level.

There is going to be a lot of pain before anyone of us can realize any gain from it.

My thesis here is that technology often helps creates accelerating and exponential trends and with the Internet, VR/AR/MR, and in the rise of algorithmic automation and Artificial Intelligence powered workforce, where you live will matter less and less. 

With that same logic, where you stash your cash will also matter less so with the rise of digital cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Monero, and ZCash.

Let me know what do you think about where we will be in next 20 years? In the last 10 years, have you personally been affected by either outsourcing or immigration? If so, how? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Self Managing Doers: The Future Of Work

Meet Sophia, she is an AI robot.

The Future Of Work

The future belongs to a new class of workers and investors.

What does that mean? Well, this is going to be a short but deep post, so please hang tight.

A month ago, Amazon added $62B to their market cap (or valuation) in a SINGLE DAY. In fact just within the 7 and half hours of the trading day. How did they do that?

To understand this large number (sixty-two billion), you have to know that the entire FedEx company is worth $61B. Airbnb is $30B and Pinterest just $10B. My point here is how come Amazon is managing to produce so much reach, revenue, and growth year after year?

The short answer is smart machinery. Yes, smart, intelligent robot workers. An army of self-managing doers (just that in Amazon’s case, a lot of these workers are just robots).

The reason, Amazon was able to lock in this boost is because of its ever-expanding reach, influence, and control. For Amazon, the customer is not just the king but everything.

This philosophy has made Amazon into a ruthless, productivity-slave-king. Like Uber, the customers love it, but, the workers pay for it by working HARD. Or, worse, losing their job to a new shiny machine.

So, what can we mortal humans do? How do we continue to grow our small companies against the giants with an army of robots? Or, as an employee, how do we protect our job and income?

Again, the short answer is by having a lean business model and as a human worker, become more valuable. Welcome to the world of “self-managing doers”.

Self Managing Doers

The future belongs to those who can produce and ship goods at a cheaper cost and faster pace than their competitors. An army of bots, super-computers, global, decentralized teams, and automation jobs will be utilized in an ever-increasing proportion to bring the fixed cost down.

More and more people will lose their jobs or will work harder and longer for a pay cut (not directly, but through inflation and loss of benefits). Take a moment and think about it.

Middle management will become obsolete as they are neither good with the company’s vision nor good at “doing the actual work”. In the future, most employees will report to a Vice President or a Director, or Team Leads.

The team leads will be workers and not managers. Just like a sports team, they will serve in a dual role for the same pay. What will be their reward for additional 2 hours of managing team members and writing reports? Social status.

Non-performing employees (technical or not) will be seen as a burden and fired fast. Eventually, the workforce will look more and more like productive human-like bots who will self-manage their duties and report on tasks completion. These will be the new working class of near-future. Fueled by technology, they will be self-managing doers.

Companies, small or large, will be wi-fi connected distributed teams of “self-managing doers” who’ll ship code to toys to groceries using drones, self-driving cars, and the satellite powered Internet.

For the curious: Besides sharing my life stories and writing poetry, currently, I along with my wife, we are also trying to make this world a little more brave, free, kind, and compassionate by designing wanderlust & adventure themed t-shirts and handmade accessories. Please check them out here: www.artoftravel.store

We share our travel adventures and stories on The Art of Travel blog.

The Battle For Your Future, Freedom, and Life

Someone I know (through someone) got fired today. Over a *BS* reason for misspelling a name. We all know that’s just a veneer for the true underlying reason: workplace politics.
“Workplace politics” is just a fancy phrase for “battle of egos.” No one wins in the battle of egos.
This person was technically strong, friendly, a long-term full-time employee. Loyal to the company and its culture.
 
Imagine how much it must suck to be fired on Valentines Day. 
This means “anyone and everyone” is replaceable in the modern corporate structure. 
Recently, the CEO of the world’s largest and most valuable startup was fired by the board.
 
We have to always keep this truth in mind. At any given day, anyone can be fired or replaced (due to whatever reason).
 
That’s why to “be free”, eventually you need to be an entrepreneur. A business owner.
 
To be a successful business owner you have to start something, somewhere, someday (as I did with Precog Tech, Fitness & Food, The Naked Soul, The Art of Travel).
 
When you start something new, 9 out of 10 times, you will fail. Failure is part of the success story. It’s a baked-in step in the journey. 
 
If you have already started your entrepreneurial journey, congratulations! 
This Valentines Day, this new year, I hope, you will give yourself the respect for the risks you have taken and endured. 
 
Respect for thinking ahead of the curve. Respect for taking the first steps. Respect for taking the risk.
 
It takes a lot of gut to eat risk for a living. For suffering the risks.
 
Risks and failures cost energy, money, and time. Cost of money causes debt.
 
I hope, this year you will have new eyes to look at things from a 30,000 ft view. The big picture of why do you have the debts and stress that you have.
 
Why these debts and the insane amount of workload is “necessary” if you want true freedom in your life.
 
Hard work, sacrifices, and risk-taking is necessary to birth anything of value. And the reason why you have to succeed in your venture. Quitting is not an option anymore. 
 
If you haven’t yet started the start-up-of-you, then perhaps this is the year, the month, the moment that you begin to seriously think about it. Every good thing begins with a “why”?
 
Think about it. Ask yourself are you truly free? Are you in control of your life? Are you truly happy? Do you see yourself leaving the world in peace (if today is your last day here)?
Your startup doesn’t have to be Uber be it certainly can be. Your startup doesn’t have to be a billion-dollar idea but it certainly can be. The point is, it doesn’t matter.
 
What matters is your start taking control and ownership of your life, your time, your happiness, and your health. 
 
Happy Valentines Day!
 
 

Ideal Education System: The Future of Education

Everyone feels that the current education system is broken and outdated. Throughout the history, we have had several forms of educations. Before we talk about the future of education or an ideal education system, let’s first look at our history.
 
In the ancient Greece city-states, for example, the purpose of education was to produce good and loyal citizens.
In ancient Egypt, education was not for the common citizens. Formal education was reserved mainly for the priestly caste and boys from the wealthier families. Girls rarely were taught in public. These ancient Egyptian kids started school at the age of 7 and were taught to read, write, and as well as mathematics.
 
In ancient India, kids at a very young age were sent to an ashram (similar to a private boarding school) where a child lived in close proximity to his guru (teacher) and was taught in person or group setting for up to 7 to 10 years. In some schools, the curriculum covered learning about medicine to martial arts.
In ancient China, formal schooling systems were established as early as 2000 BC. The curriculum covered reading, writing, basic mathematics, poetry, Confucianism, and interpreting I Ching. 
 
During the industrial revolution in England, the purpose of education was to the train future factory workers. However, times have changed. We are currently living in the age of superintelligent computers, rockets flying to the Mars, and self-driving cars.

The Future of Education

What should be the future of education? Can we design an education system that will be both well-rounded and meaningful for our future generations? A system that is compatible with both the spiritual and scientific aspects of our life. 
 
I believe every human child should be taught and trained in the following 11 disciplines. It is best to design and structure an education system in the following fields from grade 1 through 10. (That’s first 10 years of formal learning.)
 
Afterwards, each student (or seeker) can pick some of the fields to master for another 10 years. (This will be a combination of 10,000 hours and practical and experiential internships in any given field.)

Ideal Education System

An ideal education system and the future of education will be structured into the following 11 domains. It will cover all aspects of human life.
 
  • Language and Literature
  • Music (Instruments, Dance, Singing)
  • Martial Arts & Survival Skills
  • Mindfulness & Philosophy
  • Foundational Maths
  • Foundational Science
  • Computer & Machine Programming
  • Metalearning (Learning how to learn)
  • Entrepreneurship
  • World History
  • Human Rights & Social Governance

Let me know what you think of this structure? Would like me to expand on these 11 domains? Leave your questions or thoughts in the comments below. 

There Will Be No Privacy In Future By 2050

Privacy is dead. Privacy has already lost the battle. There will be no privacy in the future.

The future of instant media powered by Artificial Intelligence will make it impossible to hide your successes or failures.

What do I mean? In this era of intelligent platforms, which knows a lot about us, any noise you make, will be sent far and wide.

Everyone you have ever known (including people who may have blocked you) will hear the cheering noise of your success. (Or, the pitiful cries of your embarrassing failures.)

This should act as a reminder for all of us to do our best, to be our best, and to aim for the best. Because in the near future, whatever you do, whatever you become, will be most likely known by everyone.

No Privacy In Future

Imagine the world in 2050. This is a world where your actions, your thoughts, your impulses are continuously calculated, analyzed, and studied. And the grand irony of this situation is not that this invasion of personal privacy is through hacking or force but by either ignorance or voluntary action.

Humans by nature seek the path of least resistance. If we have learned anything from our history, it is humans will voluntarily give up their rights and privacy in exchange for having less labor. (For example, letting Facebook maintain your user credentials and passwords than creating a new account with new and secure passwords.)

There will be not much difference between a Robo-Citizen and a Human (or a pet). At first, we won’t notice the difference but slowly, slowly as the grave reality of our predicament will be realized, we will try to fight back for our lost privacy! But alas, it will be too late then.

Corporations will rule most of us and few world-class Artificial Intelligence software will, in turn, run these corporate decisions. At some point, the globalized multi-national corporate world will switch from direct human management to algorithm-driven, data-driven analytics and decision.

Again, even the big and powerful corporations won’t notice this change at first but by the time they will do, they will have no choice but to live and die by these algorithms because not following the command of these AI algorithms will mean getting financially destroyed by your global competitors.

I understand you may think this future prediction is incorrect and unnecessarily dark and negative. But, the sad truth is this “dark and negative future” is already here, just not fully distributed and fully executed.

On the positive side, we all can decide to do something about it. The most important of all, we should not give up our personal privacy in exchange for reducing some manual human work. We should not give up our privacy in the name of latest apps.

Privacy is a human right and like any rights, you have to defend it (or else it will be taken away).

Let me know what your thoughts are on the internet and digital privacy issue? Are you concerned or you don’t care about personal privacy at all? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Is the Job Market Slow? Where are all the Jobs

I have been living happily for too long and my happiness is about to come to an end. I am looking for a new job. A good, contracting job, 40 hours/week, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.

But wait, why would I do that? Why do I need a job? Because my bills are getting bigger than my bank balance and I need to find a job to keep the cash flow positive. But wait, where are the jobs? I have been actively looking, searching, applying, emailing and calling but I don’t see “open jobs” or “now hiring” signs.

This must not be right! I thought so too. 

Or, maybe I am not looking for anything less than $100,000/year. Well, I may even take $80,000 deal. But first of all, it must exist. And, I am not talking about manufacturing jobs. I am talking about engineering jobs and IT jobs.

Is Job Market Slow

Where are all the jobs? The news, media and government statistics tell me that the unemployment rate is at 5%. Bullshit. The market is good and banks are looking to increase interest rates? Another BS.

Seriously? Do you see people around you increasing their expenditure? Do you see people buying a bigger house or renting an expensive apartment? Do you people around you in your neighborhood leasing fancy cars? I don’t.

I think, most people are thankful that they have a job or some sort of income. Those who don’t have a stable monthly income, ask them? What are they going through? What do they feel?

Is it the election? Is it automation, outsourcing, or just that most jobs are becoming either cheap or highly technical?

If you can program DeepMind or for some A.I projects, maybe you will have a job! But, if you are just an engineer (even a computer engineer), perhaps, you should learn new skills. Jobs are not increasing. Salaries are not increasing. Rent is. Expenses are.

What will I do? Well, I want to find out what others do in my situation? 

What about higher degrees and getting licenses and new certifications? More BS.

There is no proven correlation of getting a higher degree and receiving a $2000/month raise in salary, for example. Or, $1000. I am fine with $1000. But, the problem is it’s not even a guarantee that you will find a job, to begin with. 

What if you already have a job? There is no guarantee that your new degree or certification will land you a promotion or a raise. What is guaranteed is that next year your rent or overall expenses will be higher!

So what can I do? What am I doing? What is my point that I am trying to make here?

Artificial Intelligence

I think we are moving towards a high unemployment and under-employment society in the US. And, this a problem. This is going to be a big problem in the coming decades (or maybe years). 

As more and more jobs get absorbed by Artificial Intelligence programs and automation, more and more people will lose their jobs and their monthly, stable income. That is going to be a disaster.

Think about driverless cars for example. What would happen once, cars can drive itself. Think about the public bus drivers, train drivers, cab drivers, and so on? Think about the customer service jobs! What happens when more and more calls are programmed and routed to a computer? How many hundreds of thousands of people will become jobless? (If they haven’t already in banking, finance, government).

What can you do? 

You can do what I am doing. Become a freelancer. Start today. If you are reading this blog post on your laptop, start now. You have got a personal computer and internet. You are good to go.

Write down your skills and areas that interest you. Then look for opportunities on how you can market your skills or learn a new skill (for free, online).

If you are already working, think about a small side business or a second job. Think about Plan B. Even if your job is very stable and you see no sign of layoffs, think about raise? Are you guaranteed a raise by your employer? Maybe not? Do you think the cost of living is increasing every year? Do you think, it’s a good idea to at least earn more so that you can invest more and let the compound do the magic.

My solution for myself is: I want to earn more so that I can invest more. The more I invest, the more interest I am going to make on my capital and the more money I will have when I need it. The compounding will do the job for me. But, my job is to make my capital and monthly investment as large as I can. 

Yes, I know, I am not desperate for a job right now. But I can be. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next year. Why should I wait for next year? Why not plan today for the next year.

Why not save more today. 

I am going to continue to apply for new jobs. Maybe I will find something that interests me. Maybe I will take this job and start working a new 9 to 5. I see no harm (because I do see, the coming gloom of unemployment and mass under-employment).