Equity Focus : Investing In A Terminator Future

This post was written for www.hnworth.com, a site targeting high net worth individuals in Singapore.

Have fun reading !



It has been my pet topic for a while now and after watching the new Terminator Genisys trailer, reading Robert Reich on the dystopian future of employment, a new book by Martin Ford on the Rise Of The Robots, along with the superbly-superb US Non Farm Payrolls on Friday night, I think it is time for us to revisit the vision for the future again.

This is a partial rehash of the important points I have been trying to convey last year, with a lot of new developments thrown in, that will be an important, if not essential, component of each of our portfolios, if we want to hedge the future of the kids of today.

Last Friday’s US non farm payroll number was a phenomenal one, heralding the largest 3 month payroll gains in 17 years, accompanied by wage growth and strong revisions to past months which makes the entire package nearly impossible to fault.

I am a bit harsh but have to admit I am hardly impressed because for years now, we know that the quality of job creation has been none too fantastic as we read about former financial controllers delivering pizza, the need for more waiters, healthcare workers and Fedex delivery men for festive periods.

Not for long, if you ask me and as the recent headlines would have it, Jack Ma is using drones to deliver tea in China these days and China will have the most robots in the world by 2017.

Enter drones and artificial intelligence as slaves and masters. Where will humanity stand ?

Bill Gates : 20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model. http://www.businessinsider.sg/bill-gates-bots-are-taking-away-jobs-2014-3/#.VNcbdy4pqjY

He joins Elon Musk, Stephen Hawkings and a host of eminent academics, entrepreneurs and prominent members of society who signed a n open letter for Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence http://futureoflife.org/misc/open_letter#signatories.

Yet not all are against the idea. Jack Ma and Paul Allen are advocates of that vision. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-04/is-elon-musk-right-about-ai-researchers-don-t-think-so

I have a personal theory that there are oracles in our times (, Jules Vernes saw submarines over a hundred years before they existed, HG Wells, Isaac Assimov and even George Lucas have foreseen things that were but a fantasy in their works which can be contrasted to the modern social seers like the Aldous Huxley’s and George Orwell’s, preceding the numerous others before them.

A poignant note.

Not all the world’s population will enjoy the gadgetry world of the future to the full. A larger portion than today will be deprived and although they may be better off, materially, than today, they will be further behind.Isaac Asimov

“The euphemism is the “share” economy. A more accurate term would be the “share-the-scraps” economy….. How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots’ owners?” http://www.salon.com/2015/02/04/robert_reich_the_sharing_economy_is_hurtling_us_backwards_partner/

Robots could delete humans like spam and “with artificial intelligence, we’re summoning the demon.” http://www.engadget.com/2014/10/27/elon-musk-is-scared-of-killer-robots/

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” Hawking told the BBC. http://www.cnbc.com/id/102232193

I am reading about economics exams that are too difficult for the undergraduates whilst being aware that “a generation of college graduates with well-paid positions as junior researchers and analysts in the banking industry should be worried about their jobs. Very worried. ….. There are several hundred thousand people employed in that capacity. We do it with machines,” says Mr Nadler. “We’re not competing with other [tech] providers. We’re competing with people.”” http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/dc895d54-a2bf-11e3-9685-00144feab7de.html#ixzz2x9PxwMKM

Because we are on the brink of the time of the commoditization of not just labour but of analytics.  And it cannot come at a worse time in the period of humanity as 1 out 16 people who ever lived are alive as you read this, quoting  and as illustrated by him .


To continue reading …..



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