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FinTech Forces of the Future, Part Four: Technology and Life

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The exciting area for me is always our technological future. Reusable rockets, life on Mars, quantum computing, robotics, artificial intelligence, the metaverse, blockchain, renewable energy and more are all going to transform the way we live over the next few years. What does this mean in reality?

I could describe each one in depth, but you’re better off just clicking links:

But the one article I really liked discussed key technologies that will change our lives, so I’ve summarised the article here.

Health

Humans have this great ability to solve problems. One of my favourite examples is diabetes, when insulin had an immediate impact on the health of children. Today, we can create vaccinations against coronavirus in months. We’ve come a long way since Edward Jenner, the father of vaccinating, experimented with stopping smallpox in the late 1700s. These days we can replace people’s arms and legs – even their faces – so what about tomorrow? Well, when Alexa can replace your dead grandmother in reading bedtime stories … things will be different. Probably the biggest change is that, soon, we can grow babies outside the womb through ectogenesis:

Recent developments have managed to create 3D printed ovaries and have grown premature goat embryos in synthetic wombs. Researchers expect the technology to be useful by 2034 and … anyone seeking to abort a child could place the baby in the artificial womb and give it up for adoption.

And replace human body parts through 3D printing:

It can be as long as 5 years to find a kidney donor, so scientists have resorted to produce organs through 3D printing technologies. There has been quite some success in creating artificial hearts through 3D printing, and the future of bio-printing suggests that we may be able to transplant the first synthetic liver by 2024.

Relationships

By the next decade, sex dolls will be almost as real as humans. We will be able to talk to each other through our thoughts transmitted via the network. When we discuss AI, how about our personal intelligence artificially augmented?

And this won’t involve a mobile phone and a headset. It will use a chip implanted inside the body and a contact lens. Suddenly, the world will be enriched into 5D by a world of sensory inputs that most of us will welcome to use.

Sounds a bit Black Mirror-ish? It’s already here.

Neuralink is [Elon] Musk's neural interface technology company. It's developing a device that would be embedded in a person's brain, where it would record brain activity and potentially stimulate it. Musk has compared the technology to a “FitBit in your skull”.

Food

We all know that food is running out as the planet becomes over-populated. We cannot grow enough wheat or have enough cows and sheep to keep up with the demands of the human world. Add to this that most cows create enough methane to destroy the planet, we will be doing something different.

So yes, laboratory developed meats and vegetables will become a thing. More than this, vertical farms will become a thing.

The first vertical farm opened in Singapore in 2010, and researchers expect it to become the predominant mode of agriculture by 2025.  The technique could produce 300 times the crops that we produce in the same acreage.

Living

In a similar way to vertical farming, vertical living will increase. We already live in condominiums and apartments as a general rule, and that will increase. The difference will be that the buildings will be taller and cleaner.

We see this already, with most new developments of skyscrapers focused upon solar and renewable energy, along with green forests and plants populating the buildings structure. Take that a step further and imagine energy efficiency built into every window and brick of the building.

Floors in the same buildings could be assigned for farming, and the water will be supplied through rain and condensation. Spare parts will be manufactured using handy 3D printers available everywhere.

That all sounds tickety-boo, doesn’t it?

There’s more to this, as outlined in the article, but the final thing is living between here and Mars. I’ve already mentioned this:

We are about to become a multiplanetary society. Space tourism is already a thing, and a space hotel that is a bit like the International Space Station is already being built. Balloon flights to space and back in a few hours are possible, and the idea of humans settling on Mars is becoming more and more of a reality every day.

Which shows that the forces for change are related and integrated. Political, Economic, Social and Technological forces do not act in separate spheres. They work together to change our world and how we live. A key part of this is finance.

Finance

Financial services will be dramatically different, thanks to technology. FinTech will no longer be a thing. It will just be technology that provides financial processes. In the same light, banking will no longer be a thing. We will have banks – they never go away – but they will just be the utility providers of services that are curated and integrated from here, there and everywhere. We also won’t even think about finance or money; it will just be digital debits and credits made by our things on the network. The only time we will think about finance and money is when we have to, because we need to cover the costs.

Does that mean there is still money? In Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek utopian future, money disappears:

“A lot has changed in three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of 'things'. We have eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions … the economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn't exist in the 24th century… The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.”

Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation

To learn more about the thoughts of the Star Trek crew, read Trekonomics.

The thing is that I don’t believe this moneyless, wealthless vision of the future. Humans always find a way to fight over power, and wealth is power. This means that some form of value will exist. It may not be called money, but it will be digitally noted as an exchange. Maybe a global digital currency of bits and bytes will command the near future. Oh, it’s already here.

Meantime, what’s interesting in all of this, is that the technological forces for change will change the way we live for the better, if we harness these opportunities. Vertical farming; integration of farming and sensors; monitoring agriculture in real-time; replacing livestock with labstock; replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy; embedded and invisible finance; and more are all going to be driven by our innovations and progress through technology.

However, you have to remember that all of this will cost money. That’s why technology and finance are so key. In fact, it’s the FinTech forces of change that will create our world of tomorrow. Pretty exciting, huh?

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Arthur C. Clarke

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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...

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