Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Singaporeans you will meet in the Economy of the Future.

Perhaps it is time for a semi-serious look into the four kinds of Singaporeans you will meet in the future. 

I call this is new 4P model of the Economy of the Future.

a) Prince / Princess

You will find Princes in those schools along Bukit Timah Road that offer the New Age International Baccalaureate syllabus because only rich people can buy a ticket out of taking the A levels. 

The Future Economy is the oyster of the Prince. Someone who was born in a family where their parents has amassed plenty of capital while there were still stable jobs. 

As labour becomes replaced with automation, capital which flows into companies which harness the technology to produce the marvels of innovation allows capital owners to attain a level of wealth and financial independence which would be very much better than whatever model we have today. 

The stewards of such immense wealth in the future are the Princes.

b) Polymath  

The future economy is all about training, attaining breadth, and plumbing the depth in multiple fields of knowledge so that a person can adapt to all forms of technological disruption. First the economy will demand T-shaped professionals, then it will not be enough. We will need those who are "pi" shaped. Soon only a #-shaped professional will be able to get a decent job.  

Unfortunately, only a very tiny and elite group of citizens can attain the title of Polymath. Someone comfortable with the Liberal Arts and hardcore sciences to become a force for disruption rather than a victim. 

Only the Polymath will have stable jobs in the future, and they will be very well paid. In spite of the relative stability of such jobs, a Polymath will have a new jobs scope every few years.

As a Polymath becomes older, he needs to scales vertically and horizontally to survive in the future economy. 

Failing which he joins the masses as...

c) Peasant

The CFE report does not really address what happens to peasants in the future. I would rather think that if I were in charge, I would say that Singapore needs to start conducting feasibility studies on a basic income which pays off $200 - $400 from cradle to grave without any conditions. This is not for actual implementation but for the event that automation and AI destroys jobs faster than we can create them.

How should peasants live ? 

Will unqualified men be permanently tied to the gig economy and find entertainment in virtual games which by then will increase in levels of sophistication so they lead blissful matrix-like lives ? 

Will attractive peasants become tied to just a few Polymaths and Princes via a systems of irrevocable trusts to maintain the semblance of a new clan-like family structure.

Nevertheless, it does not look good for Peasants....

But there is worse...

d) Prostitute

It does not take a stretch to figure out that perhaps some people may not not want to fuck a chunk of metal no matter how much you enjoyed watching Westworld. One survivor of disruption would be the world's oldest profession.

Depending on how cynical you are, you might also realise that suckers are still born every minute so the folks who hustle, work in sales might fall into this category if you bother to broaden this category. 

I will not live long to see the future economy. But I will be making choices to the best of my ability to allow my children to either qualify as Princes or Polymaths when every single task in the Singapore economy gets automated away.

Have you read the CFE report ?

What will you do and where will you be in the future ? 



  1. Haha i love how you lump salespeople into the prostitute class.

  2. That's only if you are cynical enough.

    1. I generally wldnt go near any salesperson unless I had no other choice but to buy a specific product from them ;)

  3. That's the general stand of this blog.

    We should buy stuff but we should avoid being sold stuff.

  4. Peasants and unqualified people will always find ways and means to survive the “future economy”. In certain industries, just because something can be automated doesn’t mean it will be automated. Society just might not want the change.
    For example, consumers pay more for Japanese omakase dining vs pre-package bento box produced by automation. Men pay more for beers served by a pretty girl vs automated vending machine (unless the pretty girl is an android and drunkards are unable to tell the difference).

    If the economic conditions push the plebs down to the ground, that itself will be problematic for the elites. The plebs are legion, and will demand for social change one way or the other.

  5. That's a very optimistic view.

    The future economy may not push plebs down as we speak but may instead offer alternatives which are hard to imagine today. Computer games have evolved into some sort of lifestyle drug and many men will be happy participating in the gig economy just to feed themselves and fulfill their gaming quota of 18-30 hours of gameplay a week.

    Society may welcome that change. Nobody gets "pushed down" as much as have their lives completely redesigned in a way which we cannot imagine today.