Sometimes there is no point recreating the wheel. I often great quite interesting articles upon which I would like to comment. Recently I read this article from the World Economic Forum, written by a member of Parliament for Denmark.
It starts off:
“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.”
Often when you spend time in entrepreneurial hot beds like San Francisco and around the world, you can caught up in the excitement of the entrepreneurs who are building something. But I don’t see my role as to cheer lead any activity or any technology. We really have to consider the bigger picture, we should at least be cognisant of where this is taking us.
Is the future of the sharing economy a place where we literally don’t own anything? I am a huge fan of airbnb and find uber incredibly useful at times. And in a spiritual sense, less is indeed more. Being less attached to things is certainly a great blessing.
But should we not ponder this trajectory a little more? Does this mean that we will live in a world where large corporations own everything and we just rent things? What does this mean for personal freedom? What does this mean for the economic balance of power? We already have enough problems in these two areas. The writer says it herself here:
“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.”
Citizens are already tired of being monitored all the time with all the stories about the NSA. I don’t know what it was about this short simple article , but it just raised all sorts of red flags for me.
She touches on another concern. Earlier this year when writing about Brexit , I described it as the ‘Hunger Games Revolution’. The UK was eerily reminding me of that film, where all the wealth was amassing in London (Capitol) and the rest of the country (Districts 1-12) was suffering.
It seems that some people think that these trends can just keep continuing. The author reflects on the Districts 1-12:
“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.”
I think one thing we have learnt this year with Brexit and the election of Trump is that there are social and then political ramifications to major agendas in globalisation and technology. I think we really need fewer cheerleaders now, and more insightful dialogue.
Do we really want to replicate the Hunger Games?
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