What Will Happen After COVID-19 Pandemic Goes Away?

Although COVID-19 is still running rampant in the West, especially in the United States, I think when the dust is settling, everything will be amazing again. Why am I so positive like this even though we don’t even yet have a mass vaccination for the COVID-19 pandemic? Just let’s say I believe in the effects of human nature, and certain effects of human nature will never change even if the world is going to end tomorrow!

Right now, people are not going to movie theaters, eating out, shopping at luxurious malls, and whatnot, but believe me I think when COVID-19 is over — you can believe that people will do all of that and even more than they have had ever done in their entire life! I think the feelings of being pampered and served are so amazing that people want to feel something like that again! After all, they are being cooped up indoors for so long during the pandemic — once COVID-19 is gone — isn’t it obvious that there will be a revenge of massive consumerism on the service sector?

Currently, malls and other public physical consumerism/service spaces are not being favored by everyone for obvious reasons — DUH! — not getting infected by COVID-19… So, let me tell you why am I being Mr. Obvious(!) — well, let’s say it’s common sense folks! Let me ask you this, do you want to go out and having a fun dinner with your best friends in various delicious restaurants that you used to go out before COVID-19? I would! So, for me being optimistic about how things would return to normal or things would turn out to be even better than how things were before the whole COVID-19 thing is rather Mr. Obvious(!)…

One small problem though! I think my prediction could be a little off from the bulls-eye because of the negative effects of the COVID-19 aftermath. Although we’re not out of the wood yet and I still could imagine that the people — who are losing jobs due to the massive shutdown of various restaurants and other service businesses — may not be able to get back into the same job career that they had enjoyed before the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies that are being badly affected by COVID-19 may not be able to survive even if COVID-19 is going away. Many retail stores may have to file for bankruptcy! Survivable companies may have to employ more robots and automation to recuperate the costs that they lost during the COVID-19 pandemic, thus these companies may hire fewer human employees.

The negative effects of the COVID-19 aftermath could be so huge that it could push down the market prices for unfavorable real estate areas. For example, several real estate areas could see people walk away from their mortgage payments since they could not afford the mortgage payments any longer for not having to be able to find a new job. When the real estate sector turns negative — depending on how bad it could become — it could also affect the businesses in such neighborhoods. Local businesses could see a huge loss in revenues. It’s like a chain of effects or chain of reactions, and the negativities could multiply throughout the economy.

Nonetheless, I feel that the economy is a strange beast because it could contain both the negatives and the positives all at the same time. I could see a scenario of people will go hungry and yet some people go out and spend money like crazy to make up for the time that they were forced to be indoor for so long during the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps, we could see the unbalance of the income quality thus we could have huge inequality in income after the COVID-19 is going away. Some people will be able to do more and enjoy their life more during the COVID-19 aftermath, and other people will have to go hungry and become homeless. I just pray that everyone would be able to do better and feel better after this horrendous COVID-19 pandemic — but we all know praying might not be enough. Let’s hope I could be so wrong, and everything will be super-duper after the COVID-19 goes away.

Should Africa Rely On Automation To Leapfrog Cheap Labor Phase?

Africa got 1 billion plus people and yet the whole continent’s economy is only about the size of South Korea. This means the whole African continent is still very poor and needs to be developed a lot so the Africans can have some hope for a better future. Unfortunately, as cheap labor is moving out of China to China’s neighbors such as Vietnam, the whole world is now all the rage on how to rely on the automation of machines so even cheap labor cannot compete. If this is the case, I don’t think the Africans will have a chance of mobilizing their 1 billion plus people to industrialize the African continent.

So, the question is if Africans cannot rely on cheap labor to develop and industrialize the African continent, then what else could the Africans rely on to develop Africa? If Africans tries to rely on the aids of the Western countries, then Africans will never be able to develop their own industries that are necessary to pull the African continent out of poverty for good. Although the Chinese are building the infrastructures inside Africa to better the livelihood of the Africans, without a staple of strong industries the Africans will still face the problem of not being able to industrialize the African continent.

Although I don’t know much about Africa, in my humble opinion, Africans should try to go for automation themselves to leapfrog the cheap labor phase. This means Africans have to develop a very entrepreneurship mentality so they can come up with business models that need automation as a necessary ingredient for their business. Furthermore, instead of only relying on aids from the West and the infrastructures from China, Africans should demand the Chinese to teach them how to develop and incorporate Artificial Intelligence in their businesses. I think the machine learning and higher AI will definitely be able to help the Africans to automate the needs in their entrepreneurship businesses and leapfrog the cheap labor phase.

Basic Income Is Dead. Long Live Basic Equality!

As earth’s population grows larger and automation gains traction each day, how many job categories and niches would dwindle each time before there would be none left for onlookers?  More people mean more jobs are needed to sustain a vibrant society where equality gap could be lessened instead of widening.  More automation means more people will lose jobs.  These two factors are like pouring gasoline onto the fire.

Unethically, such a society could demand people to have fewer children, but such a society needs a strong authoritarian government.  In the West, most governments are democratic, and so such demand would be outrageous.  Furthermore, such a demand is for a weak society, because the society doesn’t have a solution thus resolving into forcing a reduction of population headcount.

A wiser society would not demand a reduction of population headcount — it got a solution for what’s coming!  What solution?  As of now, there is no clear solution for the two detrimental factors I stated in the first paragraph!  By the way, what is a society?  In my opinion, a society is a group of people that stick together for the benefits of the majority.  The two detrimental factors I described earlier would chip away most benefits of the majority in our modern societies.

Few governments and groups are trying out basic income as a testing case for trying to solve the inequality gap between classes of groups of people in our modern societies.  Nonetheless, small-scale basic income test trials most likely won’t yield any good result.  Furthermore, basic income for large countries like the United States and China would be an insane proposition.  No amount of money would be enough to give out to each person in a large country.

I think basic income is kind of screwy too!  For an example, the more money the government prints to give out the more people will spend thus requiring the money printers to print even more money so the government could have enough doughs to give out to even more people.  Get the gist?  Once the government tightens the belt such as stopping giving out money, the basic income scheme would collapse immediately.  A society that is addicted to basic income could also collapse!

By the way, how inflation would work in a basic income society?  I don’t think I know the answer to this as I’ve seen nothing like it has ever applied to a large country like the United States or China.  We all know that if inflation goes north too much everything would become rather pricey because the supply of money is too large — simply put, too many dollars would chase too few demands.

As job loss number increases and automation gains worldwide prominent, the tipping point would become too real when a society becomes desperate and mad.  Nonetheless, as an advanced society could produce just about anything with little effort using automation, the tipping point once again could occur positively as people would no longer require making a living by working the field, factory, office and so forth.

The question is, in the between the transition from a working society to a leisure society, how many people would have to die and how many revolutions would have to occur before the storm could pass and peace could form?  The basic income could work as a dirty solution till the modern society could completely transform into a leisure society!  The question is, will the governments of the world dare to print an unlimited amount of money before inflation hits and destroys the hope and dream of attaining a transformation of a modern society into a leisure one?

Perhaps, basic income is too draconian and would not work.  Perhaps, providing a fair playing field for the newcomers would work?  What do I mean?  Imagine basic income is not basic income but a one-time thing for the poor and the newborns!  What do I mean again?  Well, basic income is too hard to carry out as it requires the governments of the world to continuously print an unlimited amount of money each year.  Instead of basic income, why not basic equality for the poor and the newborns?

What do I mean by basic equality for the poor and the newborns?  Well, let’s say the government would go about to calculate the right amount of money each person needs to have a fulfilling life as long such a person would not do anything too crazy to destroy the money cache quickly such as using drugs, gamble, and whatnot — then a government would give a one-time basic income to all the poor in his/her own country so to provide a fair level of playing field.  Obviously, the rich won’t need any basic income so the government can save money by not giving any to the rich through basic income channel!

Basic equality would save the prudent government a lot of money and yet his/her society would be able to function in a jobless era.  All the newborns could also receive one-time basic income in a form of a trust fund that the government would create for them.  The trust fund would go out to the parents of the newborns for a while till the newborns become adults.  Once the newborns reach adulthood, the government then could give them basic equality (one-time basic income) according to the inflation rate in their time.

Of course, the hope is that the basic equality would buy time for modern societies to transform into leisure societies across the world.  The idea of basic equality, one-time basic income, is to leave nobody behind yet buy time for the governments of the world to see their societies transform into leisure societies where automation would provide everything everyone needs.  When everybody got everything and more, money would become so irrelevant!  In such a society, money won’t buy anything!  In a leisure society, only the smart, funny, easy going, talented ones could become real assets of the world!

 

 

Nationalism Vs. Globalism, Where Does This Lead? Probably to a Nowhere!

Globalism seems to be getting a bad rap lately, because locally people are suffering from global competition.  Jobs from a global market either had already been moved to another part of the world in the name of efficiency in cost and whatnot or will be replaced by market elsewhere that is more competitive.  So, locally, people are not feeling good at all about global aspects.

We’re seeing many people try to promote local brand, local ideas, local culture, and local anything over anything global.  Of course, it’s not a bad thing to promote local culture, ideas and whatnot, because these things are essential for a local life-force.  Nonetheless, when we become too extreme in promoting local over global agenda, we may create an atmosphere that would lead to a road of violences and not of solutions.

Imagine how the Nazi or similar groups came about or will be created because of such extremism.  Basically, I believe that the Nazis were not only Hitler’s henchmen, but many of them were believing in a movement of a pure race mentality which believes in purity and superiority over other identities.  So, in Hitler’s time, if you’re a Jew, you would be considered the lowest scum of all scums on earth, thus Hitler did try to wipe out the entire Jewish identity from the planet earth.

The Nazi mentality would seem making sense for the Nazis, but on the outside most people would not agree, because such a movement promotes senseless killing and senseless violence.  Thus I think anything that is taking too extreme may do more harm than good.  So, in these days, many people are promoting local brands over global brands, and it’s not really a bad thing.  Nonetheless, I think we should do this on a scale that makes sense — by not overdoing it.  If not, we may promote a form of extremism that will only incite a bigger conflict eventually.

Imagine a scenario in which we would close off our border, stop trading with everyone else globally, and try to create a self-sustain nation in which we believe that would stop global competition and bring better economic prosperity for people within our nation — this looks a lot like North Korea now.  But we all know that North Korea isn’t doing very well economically for a very long time.  Actually, North Korea had been poor since the conception of its whole political body.

Just right next door, China, once was as poor as North Korea, but now this neighbor known as China has become the largest economy on earth in term of Purchasing Power Parity measure and many people suggest that China will become the largest economy on earth in nominal GDP term sooner than later.  The neighbors cannot be any differ in term of size and economic prowess, because the gap between the North Koreans and the Chinese seems to be the size of a galaxy — an exaggeration of course but relevant nonetheless.

China achieved all of their success not by closing down borders, stop trading, and try to be self-sustained like North Korea, but China opened and continues to open up just the right amount of space for foreign trades, investments, cooperations, and whatnot.  So, I think China did think about how to face the challenge of global competition before they opened up their economy just right which had allowed them to be where they are today.

For countries like the United States, we’re facing a challenge of cost efficiency, and so our products are more expensive to export.  Perhaps we should think about closing our door with just a right amount of space but leave the door open just wide enough to stem the outflow of jobs — creating enough breathing space for people within the country to survive and thrive and compete.

Nonetheless, such a solution is only for short term treatment, because in the future our technologies may be so disruptive that the technologies we will employ will take away all of our jobs.  When such thing occurs, no matter how many borders you close down, how many trades you stop from occurring will not be able to keep jobs at home.  So, the solution won’t be available in the basket of creating jobs for the people, but the solution would be in the basket of how to support a society in which people will no longer work for a living, on a global scale.

What is the solution?  At the moment, I don’t think any single solution would be satisfactory in answering the AI taking away jobs question, because we’re not actually suffering from a total domination from a machine overlord just yet.  Instead, we’re seeing machines slowly take away jobs from various people in various sectors.  Eventually though, the Artificial Intelligence would get so smart that it would take away most jobs from the people.

If AI is inevitably going to take away most of our jobs, we should steer the course of such a trend to benefit the humanity.  After all, we’re the humanity!  So, I suggest that we should employ smart machines to create the abundances that we need to free us all from basic necessaries, and this would allow us to focus on living better.  We then would probably question ourselves what would we do if the smart machines do all the jobs.

Will we become so bored and mindless that we rather die young than live too long?  Nonetheless, in the future we may have technologies that would extend our lifespan.  But there is a possibility in which we as the humanity as a whole would try to explore the next frontier which is the universe itself.  Maybe the smart machines would get us to be so free that we would venture out into the farthest space within the universe to explore and question not only our origin, but the universe itself — and have a better chance at doing this than ever before.

Anyway, after watching “Nationalism vs. globalism: the new political divide | Yuval Noah Harari” TED Talks video on YouTube, my brain starts to question a lot more about our future.  This brief essay is the result of my watching of this video.  The video is right after the break.  Enjoy!

Can basic income and good karma/credit system provide a way to cope with AI’s automation?

In 2017, a lot people and various parts of different countries are talking and experimenting with basic income.  Automation — comes naturally and intelligently through artificial intelligence — is the new thing that has gotten people worried.  Some people argue that AI’s automation will replace human beings with robots/programs in all sorts of jobs.  Dumb automation probably has already replaced humans in many cumbersome, repetitive jobs/functions.  Intelligent machines/programs through AI can probably replace many white collar jobs already.  When too many people are out of work, this could become a huge bother for many powerful people who carry important positions in our society.  Displaced people would want to be able to survive and strive in a society in which they’re no longer productive, but this could mean standing up against the factory owners, corporations, and even the governments.  If not careful, a world of full automation could mean a bloody revolution.  Thus, basic income becomes an urgent question for many leaders in any country in our time.

Nonetheless, in the West, we have a thing that was being taught since the fall of Soviet Union is that communism has failed utterly.  We look at China as if Chinese communistic society is the new capitalist society.  How can basic income fit into a Western society in which communism has been taught to be disgusted upon?  After all, basic income is about rationing, splitting equal income for everyone in a single society.  Isn’t communism is also about rationing and splitting equal things for a community, a society, and in biggest case a country?  I guess, we could argue a mix of basic income with capitalistic values won’t lead to new communism, but it could morph into an entirely different beast.  I guess we should ask, can a strong supportive basic income be an uplifting element for the despondent citizens?  I guess we should consider the humming capitalistic tunes of the middle class in this situation.  Can basic income give the despondent ones a chance to reach the middle and eventually the upper classes within this beastly creation?

Perhaps, basic income may not be the only solution.  Perhaps, we require many more parts of a larger, more creative solution in order for us to tackle the AI’s automation revolution.  Imagine in a society in which doing good things promotes good karma, and this karma translates into real monetary credits.  Can this route take us to a Nirvana?  Basic income to support a crumpling foundation, and on the top of this reparable foundation we decorate it with good karma.  The double edge sword of a good karma/credit system is that the implementation of punishments, punishing the good people who have bad karma/credits.  Then the question should be asked such as what could be the punishments for the people who have bad karma/credits?  This won’t be a good thing if new harsh punishments are there to wreck havoc in lives of good citizens.  It could literally lead to a society in which looks very much like a Nazi one.  Perhaps, karma/credit system should be used for the implementation of a positive, credit/monetary system only and not much more, and no punishment should come along with this very system.  This way, good folks won’t be affected by stupid punishments.  Just imagine good karma/credit system provides even more basic income on the top of the basic income?

I couldn’t let this go. Imagine a society in which isn’t too different from a fantastical Star Trek’s one, because a replicator alone could conjure any item out of the thin air.  Perhaps, a replicator could replace basic income and money and credits altogether?  If such a society and technology exist, this could mean the end of being desperate in a more intelligent universe.  Perhaps, if this to occur, people won’t have the need for ancient money/credit system, because a replicator alone could conjure up anything.  It’s magical.  Anyhow, the summation of all is that an interesting time is upon us, and AI’s automation may be replacing us humans in all sorts of jobs.  The old system isn’t providing an answer to how to create new jobs in an AI universe.  A jobless society would be very different in nature, because people need money to survive.  Without providing jobs to a hungry population, a society could face an upheaval of all sorts.  Can basic income and good karma/credit system provide a way to cope with AI’s automation?

Desert Jungle, Not A Narrow Minded Narrative

Why humans are different than animals?  We have something that the animals may never be able to learn, if ever.  One word, adaptability!  We humans are very adaptable.  Even if the sun would disappear from the sky, us humans maybe able to live on with mere things that never need to see the sunlight.  Sure, it might be an exaggeration, but the exaggeration does fit the narrative which depicts our adaptability.  We have shown over and over again that we humans are the only true domineer of this planet earth so far.  Thus, whenever I heard a narrative of why a mold of society, politics, or whatever doesn’t fit a group, I would think such a narrative is too narrow minded.

Somewhere on this planet earth, people are living in conditions that are unimaginable to many of us.  Nonetheless, they are living on.  Perhaps, they are waiting for something that will work for them.  With a savior, hero, leader, system, or whatever that will come and provide the means for poorest people to come out of their drought, I’m sure they will be as glorious just as people who do not have to worry about living below a poverty line.  Thus, I think it’s not simply one thing and only one thing that will work for only one group, but the picture is relatively more complex.

But don’t let the complex system fools us into thinking that complex theories can solve the most necessary basics that would move humans forward. Without proper basic needs such as foods on the table, clothes for cover, and other basic needs, us humans would die before that savior, hero, leader, system, or whatever could come to the rescue.

In short, with the right condition, a desert can bloom into a full blown jungle.  Somewhere on this planet, people who are living in direst conditions may find themselves a jungle if the right condition would eventually come to their rescue.  In my opinion, it’s not hypocritical to say that us humans are adaptable — when there is no sunlight and humans do need that extra boost under the right climate to find a jungle — because adaptability doesn’t mean to be completely naked.  Thus, when someone is trying to say a group of people will never be able to have something going for them is very narrow minded.  It’s not only about the mold, but it’s about the adaptability.  Nonetheless, adaptability without basic needs will almost be irrelevant.