Having covered four ages of moneykind:
What could possibly be the fifth?
When we are just at the start of the Internet of Things (IoT), and are building an Internet of Value (ValueWeb), how can we imagine something beyond this next ten year cycle?
Well we can and we must, as there are people already imagining a future beyond today. People like Elon Musk who see colonising Mars and supersmart high speed transport as a realisable vision. People like the engineers at Shimzu Corporation, who imagine building city structures in the oceans. People like the guys at NASA, who are launching space probes capable of sending us HD photographs of Pluto when, just 100 years ago, we only just imagined it existed.
No one knows, and most predictions are terribly wrong. A century ago they were predicting lots of ideas but the computer had not been imagined, so the network revolution was unimaginable. A century before this, Victorians believed the answer to the challenge of clearing horse manure form the streets was to have steam-powered horses, as the idea of the car had not been imagined. So who knows what we will be doing a century from now.
What will the world of 2116 look like?
Well there are some clues. We know that we have imagined robots for decades, and robots must surely be pervasive and ubiquitous by 2116 as even IBM are demonstrating such things today at CEBIT.
A century from now we know we will be travelling through space, as the Wright Brothers invented air travel a century ago and look at what we can do today.
We are already allowing reusable transport vehicles to reach the stars and, a century from now, we will be beyond the stars I hope.
Probably the largest and most forecastable change is that we will be living longer. Several scientists believe that most humans will live a century or more, with some even forecasting that a child has already been born who will live for 150 years.
A child has been born who will live until 2166. What will they see?
How we will live so long is because a little bit of the machine will be inside the human and a little bit of the human inside the machine. The Robocop is already here, with hydraulic prosthetics linked to our brainwaves able to create the bionic human. Equally, the Cyborg will be arriving within 35 years according to one leading futurist.
In fact, when I saw this robot recently demonstrated, I also thought that Cyberdine’s Terminators were here on Earth.
No longer fiction but reality.
Add to this smorgasbord of life extending capabilities from nano-bots to leaving our persona on the network after we die, and the world is a place of magic become real.
We have smart cars, smart homes, smart systems and smart lives. Just look at this design for a window that becomes a balcony and you can see that the future is now.
Self-driving cars, biotechnologies, smart networking and more will bring all the ideas of Minority Report and Star Trek to a science that is no longer fiction, but reality.
It might even be possible to continually monitor brain activity and alert health experts or the security services before an aggressive attack, such as in Philip K Dick's dystiopian novella Minority Report.
So, in this fifth age of man where man and machine create superhumans, what will the value exchange system be?
Well it won’t be money and probably won’t even be transactions of data, but some other structure. I have alluded to this other structure many times already as it is quite clear that, in the future, money disappears. You never see Luke Skywalker or Captain Kirk pay for anything in the future*, and that is because money has lost its meaning.
Money is no longer a meaningful system in the fifth age of man. Having digitalised money in the fourth age, it just became a universal credit and debit system. Digits on the network recording our taking and giving; our living and earning; our work and pleasure.
After robots take over so many jobs, and man colonises space, do we really think man will focus upon wealth management and value creation, or will we move beyond such things to philanthropic matters. This is the dream of Gene Rodenberry and other space visionaries, and maybe it could just come true. After all, when you become a multi-billionaire, your wealth becomes meaningless. This is why Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg start to focus upon philanthropic structures when money and wealth become meaningless.
So could the fifth age of man – the man who lives for centuries in space – be one where we forget about banking, money and wealth, and focus upon the good of the planet and mankind in general? If everyone is in the network and everyone has a voice, and the power of the one voice can be as powerful as the many, do we move beyond self-interest?
I have no idea, but it makes for interesting questions around how and what we value when we become superhumans thanks to life extending and body engineering technologies; when we move beyond Earth to other planets; and when we reach a stage where our every physical and mental need can be satisfied by a robot.
* Some say you never see Luke Skywalker or Captain Kirk take a dump either, so maybe those things have also disappeared thanks to cybernetic and nano- technologies
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...