BY 2030, YOU'LL OWN NOTHING, HAVE NO PRIVACY, AND YOU'LL BE HAPPY.
This is the prediction of "The Great Reset" - a proposed change in global socioeconomic structures following our recovery from the covid pandemic.
Imagine a society where you don't own anything. Imagine not owning the house you live in, the clothes on your back, your car, or your appliances. Everything is rented; everything is borrowed. All products have become services. As a result waste is minimised - clean energy is more easily adopted.
Imagine living in Smart Cities - technocracies which run on complex AI algorithms that track our every move in order to optimise your life. All of your actions are recorded cryptographically on a universal, incorruptible ledger forever. This AI knows you better than you do. You don't even have to choose what to eat or what to wear - the algorithm will decide for you. Beep boop.
This is the utopian society first proposed by Ida Auken in a 2016 essay for The World Economic Forum.
YOU WILL OWN NOTHING, AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY.
A society in which every product is simply recirculated sounds very nice and energy-efficient, but it comes at a dangerous cost. If we don't own anything, someone else will, and that will most likely be large corporations and financial elites - most of whom do not have our best interests at heart. Giving up our ownership means giving up our freedom and control. It also means massive wealth redistribution that favours a select few over the many, granting disproportionate power to the former.
This is already playing out today - take housing. We can all definitely agree the the property market is fucked right now. Especially in Australia where you have to take out a million-dollar mortgage just to buy a dilapidated shack in woy woy. Even if you earn a decent 6 figure salary you might find yourself priced out of the housing market, unless you're able to secure that ever-valuable loan from the bank of Mum and Dad.
There's of course a confluence of factors leading to this mess but here's the worrying one we will be focusing on:
BlackRock is the largest asset management firm in the world right now. It has a stake in virtually every major company, managing around 9 trillion dollars USD worth of invested assets. BlackRock owns the world - and it does this by owning significant shares in top publicly-traded companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, etc. As such it owns voting rights in many companies, and has a powerful economic, financial, and political influence.
BlackRock also seeks to dominate housing. It is buying as many properties as possible, and because of their immense wealth they are able to offer 50% more than the asking price of single family homes. This drives up the price of real estate, pricing out hardworking people like you and me from ever owning a house. In the future it could be possible that everyday landlords are displaced by multinational companies with a monopoly of control on what you can or cannot do in your residences. AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY.
YOU WILL HAVE NO PRIVACY, AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY.
Did you know that when you are using instagram, your every move is being watched? Every post you like, every post you share, every reel you save. Everything is being monitored by an algorithm. This algorithm knows who your crush is, who your parents are, when you sleep, eat. Now the fascinating part is that the algorithm not only knows your behaviour, but it is able to manipulate it quietly. It will "reward" certain behaviours by increasing engagement levels. It will pair certain posts with ads so you are hit with a positive dopamine hit right before you view an ad trying to sell you that pair of pants you've been wanting for weeks.
Now imagine this algorithm applied on a larger scale. As technology advances exponentially, we allow it to permeate more of our lives under the guise that it will help us live better.
The big caveat is that our privacy will be virtually abolished under a society underpinned by AI algorithms. And it's already happening. It's happening on our social media platforms, on our Internet of Body devices, it'll happen more in gaming. In the future most services will be AI automated. Data will become an immensely valuable resource as it becomes the fuel for smart automation. And of course, our data is already being sold to companies... AND YOU WILL BE HAPPY.
Now that you know all this, what can you do to take that any semblance of agency?
PLAY THE EQUITY GAME.
People nowadays seek wealth or status.
No, these pursuits will not make you happy. They are zero-sum games in which someone else has to lose for you to win.
Instead, SEEK EQUITY. Seek ownership over your life your possessions your property, your career, your privacy, your emotions...
In a world that aims to take away as much of your free will as possible and make you a consumerist cog, you need to take back and own your life again.
And here are some ways you can do this, in a convenient numbered list (a la 2015 buzzfeed):
1. BUY YOUR OWN HOUSE. "Umm but kari you dipshit have you seen the insane market right now?" Yeah I know but try your hardest to own a PPOR property. But the market is fucked due to low interest rates and the other aforementioned forces which wildly drive up market prices. Young people are effectively priced out. But as hard as it is to hear, property is a decent asset to park your money in a hyperinflationary world, as long as you are able to lock in a low-interest rate for many many years.
2. BECOME SHAREHOLDERS OF COMPANIES you believe in. Vote with your dollar. Don't mindlessly buy ETFs, you are essentially giving control to mega-firms like BlackRock which have a foot in literally every company....
3. START YOUR OWN BUSINESS in a bustling gig economy - sell peer-to-peer and try to avoid giving up control to big-company intermediaries. This is easier said than done, of course, and not everyone has this opportunity.
4. INVEST IN DECENTRALISED PRIVACY CRYPTOS before banks and corporations find a way to popularise centralised cryptocurrencies, which can be used to suck the privacy out of every financial transaction you make. (And if non-art NFTs ever become mainstream, then crypto can be used to track your non-financial decisions too. Like ownership of any property of any kind.)
5. LIMIT EXPOSURE TO SOCIAL MEDIA. Apps like Instagram operate under a covert algorithm, which is essentially an active AI that manipulates your behaviour to try and spend as much time on their app as possible, as well as get you to buy shit you don't need. Every single feature of a SM app is designed to keep you as addicted to their platform. It's digital crack. I know because I'm addicted as hell. If I wasn't an artist trying to share my art worldwide, I would have deleted all apps already.
6. START MEDITATING. Shut out from the world that's constantly trying to mold your identity to become a super-consumer. Meditation will help you gain super-awareness! and allow you to recognise toxic external influences of your life, affording you more control over your own emotions and decisions.
While I'm generally an optimistic person, it is easy to be pessimistic when you see what is happening with the world. It's becoming Orwellian with surveillance & the death of privacy, and Huxleyan with the constant inundation of information and noise we are flooded with every day. But what's the alternative to fighting it all? Give up?