The year is 2030. I own something, have privacy on demand, and life has been better and worse.
Back in 2016, Ida Auken (Member of Parliament, Parliament of Denmark) had an article published on Forbes: “Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better”. It gained traction, as it was also shared by the World Economic Forum and has become a bit of a thing.
Ida’s piece is well worth a read and, to save you a click, I am pasting it here:
Welcome to the year 2030. Welcome to my city - or should I say, "our city". I don't own anything. I don't own a car. I don't own a house. I don't own any appliances or any clothes.
It might seem odd to you, but it makes perfect sense for us in this city. Everything you considered a product, has now become a service. We have access to transportation, accommodation, food and all the things we need in our daily lives. One by one all these things became free, so it ended up not making sense for us to own much.
First communication became digitized and free to everyone. Then, when clean energy became free, things started to move quickly. Transportation dropped dramatically in price. It made no sense for us to own cars anymore, because we could call a driverless vehicle or a flying car for longer journeys within minutes. We started transporting ourselves in a much more organized and coordinated way when public transport became easier, quicker and more convenient than the car. Now I can hardly believe that we accepted congestion and traffic jams, not to mention the air pollution from combustion engines. What were we thinking?
Sometimes I use my bike when I go to see some of my friends. I enjoy the exercise and the ride. It kind of gets the soul to come along on the journey. Funny how some things seem never seem to lose their excitement: walking, biking, cooking, drawing and growing plants. It makes perfect sense and reminds us of how our culture emerged out of a close relationship with nature.
"Environmental problems seem far away"
In our city we don't pay any rent, because someone else is using our free space whenever we do not need it. My living room is used for business meetings when I am not there.
Once in awhile, I will choose to cook for myself. It is easy - the necessary kitchen equipment is delivered at my door within minutes. Since transport became free, we stopped having all those things stuffed into our home. Why keep a pasta-maker and a crepe cooker crammed into our cupboards? We can just order them when we need them.
This also made the breakthrough of the circular economy easier. When products are turned into services, no one has an interest in things with a short life span. Everything is designed for durability, repairability and recyclability. The materials are flowing more quickly in our economy and can be transformed to new products pretty easily. Environmental problems seem far away, since we only use clean energy and clean production methods. The air is clean, the water is clean and nobody would dare to touch the protected areas of nature because they constitute such value to our well being. In the cities we have plenty of green space and plants and trees all over. I still do not understand why in the past we filled all free spots in the city with concrete.
The death of shopping
Shopping? I can't really remember what that is. For most of us, it has been turned into choosing things to use. Sometimes I find this fun, and sometimes I just want the algorithm to do it for me. It knows my taste better than I do by now.
When AI and robots took over so much of our work, we suddenly had time to eat well, sleep well and spend time with other people. The concept of rush hour makes no sense anymore, since the work that we do can be done at any time. I don't really know if I would call it work anymore. It is more like thinking-time, creation-time and development-time.
For a while, everything was turned into entertainment and people did not want to bother themselves with difficult issues. It was only at the last minute that we found out how to use all these new technologies for better purposes than just killing time.
"They live different kinds of lives outside of the city"
My biggest concern is all the people who do not live in our city. Those we lost on the way. Those who decided that it became too much, all this technology. Those who felt obsolete and useless when robots and AI took over big parts of our jobs. Those who got upset with the political system and turned against it. They live different kind of lives outside of the city. Some have formed little self-supplying communities. Others just stayed in the empty and abandoned houses in small 19th century villages.
Once in awhile I get annoyed about the fact that I have no real privacy. No where I can go and not be registered. I know that, somewhere, everything I do, think and dream of is recorded. I just hope that nobody will use it against me.
All in all, it is a good life. Much better than the path we were on, where it became so clear that we could not continue with the same model of growth. We had all these terrible things happening: lifestyle diseases, climate change, the refugee crisis, environmental degradation, completely congested cities, water pollution, air pollution, social unrest and unemployment. We lost way too many people before we realised that we could do things differently.
Ida’s piece is quite inspiring, so much so that Andrew Levine, CEO of Koinis Group, used it as a template to write another piece about life on Mars in 2030.
Welcome to Mars. Welcome to my city, or should I say “our city” because I, like every other inhabitant, am a stakeholder in it. No, I don’t mean “shareholder,” as this isn’t a dystopian future run by private companies. My city on Mars has a decentralized governance structure just like the greater Mars. It is not a corporation nor is it a militarized state. It is a set of institutions governed directly by The People.
As a result of this system, we have police that spread peace instead of violence. We have financial systems that spread wealth instead of creating poverty. We have institutions that are open instead of closed and transparent instead of secret, all of which makes corruption practically impossible. Our institutions are bottom-up and people-powered instead of top-down and authoritarian.
This might seem odd to you, living in a world where you can’t afford a home, decent healthcare or quality education. Where a tiny number of people have incredible power leading to widespread corruption, even in supposedly “free and open” countries. This is because you live in a centralized world. You have two choices: centralized private corporations or centralized governments with a monopoly on violence. We, on the other hand, live in a decentralized city and in a decentralized world.
In our world, it makes perfect sense for everyone to say they own everything. Every product and service, at least all of the most important ones, is provided by a decentralized organization — an organization that no one person or group controls and that anyone can acquire a stake in. Especially important are the organizations, like those that provide public goods, that are required by the constitution to be governed by one-person-one-vote. Meaning that simply by residing within that organization’s territory, you receive an equal stake in that organization to everyone else.
We don’t simply have our basic needs met; we live in an abundant world thanks to technology far beyond what you have on Earth. This is because on Mars, all technology is open source, meaning that there is incredible competition to develop new and innovative solutions but also participation remains accessible to every single citizen. All of this is made possible thanks to an advanced financial operating system that emerged in 2022 that enabled people to profit from the creation of open-source software. That year, a piece of software (itself open source) was released that made a peer-to-peer (P2P) economic system with no barriers to entry available to everyone for free and quickly spread virally.
Fee-less smart contracts
The foundational element of this system was fee-less and upgradeable smart contracts. If you think about it, all of our interactions and exchanges are managed through contracts, whether they are written down, verbalized or implied. Even money itself is just a contract between the citizen and the State to provide a stable medium of exchange.
Earlier versions of these “blockchain networks” had been released, but they were often very energetically wasteful (which is not suitable for the Mars economy) and required people to pay fees for every little thing they did. Imagine that we wanted to allow citizens to cast their votes in popular elections on a blockchain so that we could eliminate voter fraud. Forcing citizens to pay to cast votes would erect unacceptable barriers to participation and forcing the government to shoulder that cost would only decrease the capital it has available to deliver valuable services to its citizens. Putting those issues aside, the more used this platform became, the more energy it would waste, and energy is a precious commodity on Mars.
This new platform, however, was entirely fee-less and highly efficient. Smart contracts that allowed people to cast votes, create different kinds of money and even share their thoughts publicly could all be created and used for free. Just as the fee-less nature of the internet had opened a creative space for an entirely new universe of products and services — even entirely new business models — the fee-less nature of this blockchain opened up a similar creative spaces for an infinite variety of new solutions, which is what has driven the technological revolution on Mars.
While SpaceX obviously triggered the initial growth phase of Mars by transporting its early inhabitants, it was this blockchain that enabled those inhabitants to establish an entirely new socio-economic system that led to an explosion of productivity while at the same time increasing personal freedom and privacy.
But see for yourself by hopping on the next Starship flight to Mars!
I was tempted to write a hybrid of both of the above around the idea of I own something, have privacy on demand, and life has been better and worse … but think this piece is already long enough. What do you think?
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* Ida’s note: Some people have read this blog as my utopia or dream of the future. It is not. It is a scenario showing where we could be heading - for better and for worse. I wrote this piece to start a discussion about some of the pros and cons of the current technological development. When we are dealing with the future, it is not enough to work with reports. We should start discussions in many new ways. This is the intention with this piece.
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...