Tag Archives: finance

What Will The Currency Of The Future Be?

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Most people don’t think about what gives their money value. There’s just a general understanding that it’s vital for basic economic activity. Whether it involves simple bartering or complex cryptocurrencies, the assumptions are the same. Money is a measure of value and exchanging it is how we ascribe value to basic goods and services.

There are all sorts of economic and financial complexities that determine how money works. Rather than bemoan the issue, knowing I am not the least bit qualified to do so, I’d like to focus on the nature of money in the future. Having already given plenty of thought to advanced artificial intelligence, human enhancement, and intimacy, I think it makes sense to contemplate how it all affects our ideas about money.

By that, I’m not referring to current trends in digital currency and older trends within modern banking systems. I’m talking about what money will be in a future where people, resources, and our entire understanding of economics has rendered the existing system obsolete. If you don’t think that’ll ever happen, then I only request that you give some added scrutiny to the concept of money.

I often find myself scrutinizing it whenever I watch a bit too much sci-fi. Some of my favorite sci-fi movies and TV shows of all time don’t give much thought to money. In “Back To The Future II,” a world of flying cars and cheap fusion power still had money. Things were just exceedingly expensive due to inflation. A Pepsi cost around $50.

While inflation is a real force that was certainly present in the non-movie version 2015, it’s somewhat strange that it would get that excessive in a world where fusion power plants could fit into cars made in the mid-1980s. In the real world, advanced technology tends to counter inflation. Logistically, better technology means more efficiency. More efficiency means cheaper goods. Cheaper goods mean lower prices.

We can certainly forgive movies like “Back To The Future II” for failing to understand the economics of money. In addition, the technology of that world wasn’t so advanced that it undercut the foundations of society. However, the money systems in galaxy-spanning space operas can’t make those excuses.

Star Wars” still used some form of currency. It was necessary for Han Solo to pay his debts and for Luke to enlist his services to Alderaan. Other space-faring epics like “Mass Effect” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” have a form of currency that allows characters to be greedy and ruthless. Whether they’re called credits or units, the principles are the same.

There’s this vague concept of money. Everyone agrees that it has value, but there’s little information about why it has value. That’s not entirely flawed. It’s just no different than traditional fiat money, which nearly every modern society utilizes to some extent in the real world. The money isn’t backed by anything. People just collectively agree it’s worth what it says its worth.

Now, I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists who claim this form of money is part of a global conspiracy theory run by lizard people who may or may not have murdered John F. Kennedy. I don’t know enough about economics or finance to make sense of our current monetary system. All I know is that we have a system of money that works within the constraints of our current society.

Whatever you think of that system, there’s still a larger question worth asking. What will money look like in the future when some of those constraints disappear? To some extent, our current system requires that people be frail, products be flawed, and resources be scarce. Through certain advances, some of which may occur in the next 50 years, those limits may disappear.

What happens to money when we perfect advanced energy generation that makes electricity cheap, abundant, and clean?

What happens to money when people begin upgrading their bodies with advanced biotechnology and cybernetic implants?

What happens to money when nanotechnology advances to a point where the production and assembly of every conceivable good is dirt cheap?

What happens to money when advanced artificial intelligence gets to a point where it gets so intelligent that it can solve every conceivable problem and manage every conceivable issue perfectly?

What happens to money when our civilization gets to a point where we can just upload our minds into a perfect simulation where all our wants and needs are met on a whim? Regardless of whether you think we’re already in a simulation, the question surrounding money and what form it takes remains.

While it’s impossible to predict the cumulative impact of technology, especially the kind that subverts modern economic forces, I believe there will be some sort of currency in the future. Even if we perfect nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and teleportation, I think it’s reasonable to conclude that we’ll need some system for exchanging goods, services, and overall value.

I also don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that our current fiat money would work. Just putting images on paper and using it as a token may not be practical in a society of advanced AI and immortal humans. These days, most of our money exists only as code in a computer and not as piles of paper or gold. I think for any form of money to work in a society of such technology, it needs to be backed by something.

Some sci-fi stories explore that concept. The movie, “In Time,” wasn’t that good, but the idea was intriguing. In that world, everybody is immortal and never ages past 25, but the system is such that the currency is measured in time. In a sense, a dollar is backed by a year of life as a healthy 25-year-old. For most people, that has plenty of value.

The rest of the movie is awful and I don’t recommend it, but it presents a novel, albeit dystopian concept. For that economic system to work, there has to be some sort of tyrannical power structure that has the ability to snuff someone’s life out the second they can’t pay. Even corrupt insurance companies aren’t that bad.

Then, there’s the Netflix series, “Altered Carbon,” which I highly recommend. That world also has a problem with massive wealth disparity, but not in the sense that rich people horde money in giant vaults. In this world, technology has advanced to the point where people can transfer their consciousness to different bodies the same way most people transfer files between computers.

In that world, the most precious assets are the best bodies. Being able to live in the body of Brad Pitt is inherently more valuable than living in the body of Danny DeVito. Much of society, from prisoners to billionaires, is divided by who has access to those bodies. In the story, the super-rich Bancroft family have that access and that’s what makes them so rich.

That kind of wealth may not show up as numbers on a balance sheet, but the value is there. Being able to produce, inhabit, and live within strong, beautiful bodies provides a powerful basis for any currency. Talk to anyone who has dealt with the effects of aging, which is pretty much everyone over the age of 25. Most would gladly pay a premium to live in a stronger, fitter body.

While “Altered Carbon” doesn’t get into the specifics of that system, the principle holds true. In a future where people aren’t bound by the limitations of biology or the human body, the greatest asset they can possess is a medium with which to experience life. A better medium means better experiences. Some companies today are already seeking to provide those experiences. Technology will simply change the methods.

Whether we end up in a simulated utopia or not, the experiences a currency affords us is what will give it value. Even though worlds like that of “Star Trek” present a world where money doesn’t exist, there is still plenty of value ascribed to life experiences. You may not be able to print that on a piece of paper or send that in a wire transfer, but that is still recognized as valuable.

I could still be wrong. Remember, I’m not an expert in money, nor can I predict the trends that future advances in technology will incur. Whatever form it takes, though, I expect that the overall goal will still be the same. We use money to pursue better, more rewarding life experiences. However we go about pursuing is, and always has been to some extent, the only true universal currency.

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How I Would Spend A Million Dollars (And NOT Go Broke)

We’ve all dreamed about it. We’ve all fantasized about it. In fact, other than having an army of naked bikini models or an army of Ryan Gosling clones, it’s probably one of our most frequent fantasies. What would we do if we suddenly became rich?

I know I’ve fantasized about it. Then again, I fantasize about a lot of things. It’s kind of necessary when you’re trying to be an erotica/romance writer. You need to be able to conjure the kinds of potent fantasies that make women need to change their panties and men wish they hadn’t worn such tight jeans. It’s a skill I’m developing and one from which I hope to gain greater success in the future.

Now I know the odds aren’t exactly in my favor right now. The odds of any writer of any genre, regardless of sex appeal, becoming as wealthy as Stephen King or Stephanie Meyer is right up there with scoring a date with Taylor Swift. However, with the recent interest I’ve attracted from publishers, those odds are improving. It’s not much, but any improvement is better than no improvement at this stage of my publishing career.

Even with the odds still not in my favor, I often find myself entertaining various scenarios on what I would do if one of my books became a best seller. Specifically, I often wonder what I would do with the money I make.

First off, I would not immediately get on the first flight to Las Vegas and spend three nights in a hot tub with five strippers, a keg of beer, a buffet of deep-fried Twinkies. Unless you’re a billionaire, that sort of thing is best left to pornos and low-budget skin flicks on Cinemax.

Second, it’s worth pointing out that a whopping 70 percent of lottery winners end up going bankrupt. On top of that, according to Sports Illustrated, over 60 percent of professional athletes go bankrupt after their careers are over. Even if you suck at math, you should know that those are not trivial figures.

Here’s a good way to illustrate that point: imagine you ordered your favorite pizza, but over two-thirds of it was eaten before it got delivered. That’s a lot of pizza you’re missing out on. Now imagine you were supposed to live off of that pizza. Losing over half of it now feels a lot more serious, doesn’t it?

So why does this happen? Who do people who strike it rich go broke? Well, it isn’t just a matter of owning pet Tigers, owing child support to multiple women for multiple children, investing in failed business ventures, or buying one too many cars, although that’s part of it. There’s a psychological component to it.

Unless you’re born rich or become rich through skilled business savvy, which only applies to a fraction of the population, you don’t know how to be rich. Yes, there is a certain amount of skill to being rich. Like any great talent, not everyone has it. As such, not everyone knows how to deal with it.

There’s even a psychological term for it. It’s called Sudden Wealth Syndrome and it’s pretty prevalent among lotto winners and professional athletes. When someone gets a sudden influx of wealth, it causes a great deal of stress because their brains aren’t wired to handle it. They’re so used to being not rich that it just feels off.

This is why it’s so easy for lotto winners and professional athletes to go broke. Their brains aren’t wired to see all this money the same way Bill Gates of Warren Buffet sees it. In some respects, they look at money the same way they look at milk. They need to spend it or it’ll expire.

That’s what leads them to just throw it away, giving it to friends or investing it in businesses that have the organization of a 6th grade science fair project. They don’t realize until it’s too late that money doesn’t go bad. It’s okay to actually save it and it’s possible to invest it in a way that’ll ensure you don’t need to dine on Ramen noodles and hot pockets.

Now to be fair, most people don’t know squat about finance or investing. It’s not a class public school teaches to kids at a young age. I get the sense that administrators understand that most kids in public schools aren’t going to strike it rich so it’s not worth the effort. It’s cynical, but understandable.

Given these odds and the tendency for non-rich people to piss their money away like an incontinent monkey, I’ve already crafted a plan on how I would invest a million dollars if I ever achieved that kind of success. This isn’t a fantasy. This is a plan. I may never get a chance to implement this plan, but like a condom, it’s better to have one and not need one rather than need one and not have one.

For this plan, I start with about a million ($1,000,000) dollars. I know Bill Gates can probably find that much money in his couch cushion, but it’s a nice even amount to work with. Since the human brain is terrible at dealing with large numbers, it helps to keep things even.

With this million, here are the simple steps of my plan. Any future lotto winners or professional athletes who want to follow this plan are welcome to do so. It’s free, it’s easy, and anyone who knows how to work a cell phone can do it.

Step 1: Pay off ALL the taxes first, if possible

This is, by far, the most important step anyone with money can take. The IRS is, in many respects, the ultimate dominatrix in that she’ll hurt you in ways you didn’t know were possible. You do not want to defy her.

Step 2: Set up an investing account with a reputable bank and pick one with the lowest fees

This is fairly easy for someone with money. If you have a million dollars, most banks will roll out the red carpet for you. Some will even waive certain fees if you have a lot of money in the account. Depositing a million dollars will usually get you a lot of leeway in that respect.

Step 3: Buy either an index fund (VFINX) or buy a blue-chip stock with a healthy dividend like Verizon, Exxon, or GE

The key here is not to buy a stock you’re going to sell for a quick turn around. The key here is to buy the stock and just basically forget about it. From here, you focus entirely on the dividends. They’re basically Wall Street’s version of masturbation. They’re the gift that keeps on giving.

Step 4: Build a budget around the dividends

From here on out, I focus on the monthly or quarterly dividends that the stock or index fund pays. With a million dollars, it’s usually not enough to just live in a mansion and never have to work again. You usually need several million for that. However, it’s still pretty considerable.

For example, let’s look at how $1,000,000 pays with buying Verizon. As of this posting, the dividend yield is %4.49. Do a little basic math and that comes out to $44,900 a year, which is paid out quarterly with four payments of $11,225 over the course of a year.

Take a breath now. That’s the most math you’ll need to do with this strategy. With this means is that you’ll have a yearly income of over $40,000 for doing absolutely nothing. It’s basically a slacker’s wet dream.

Now unless you want to dine on caviar and snort cocaine off a supermodel’s ass every week, you can budget $44,900 a year to live fairly comfortably. For me, this means taking that $11,225 quarterly dividend and budgeting it for three months at a time.

In most areas that aren’t New York City or San Francisco, you can find a decent home with decent amenities for that sum, plus utilities. That’s the ultimate endgame for this plan of mine. I invest the money in a way that gives me a passive income I can use to pay for the essentials, ensuring that any money I make beyond that is just icing on the cake.

There is one more step though and it’s also quite essential. If you followed the first step, then it should be easy to figure out.

Step 5: Pay all the necessary taxes associated with your investment and dividends

Again, it’s worth re-emphasizing how much you do not want to mess with the IRS. They don’t care if you take your money and throw it at a flock of pigeons. If you don’t give them their cut, they’re going to come after you and you will be in a world of legal trouble that no amount of money can make easier.

There you have it. That’s my plan if and when I ever become rich from either my publishing efforts, by winning the lottery, or by marrying Jennifer Lawrence, whichever comes first. I hope I get a chance to implement it one day. Until then, I hope others take the wise advice of Warren Buffet.

When it comes to money and investing, nobody can beat the market. The best you can do is not lose to it, but unlike gambling or sports, not losing can still be pretty damn profitable.

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