Welcome to the Club of Amsterdam Journal.
Watch the new edition of The Future Now Show with B.J. Murphy and Katie Aquino about Bodyshops!
Felix F Bopp, Founder & Chairman
An aging planet, an old Europe, new problems
By Michael Akerib, Vice-Rector SWISS UMEF UNIVERSITY
The earth: a rapidly aging population with an average age of slightly over 29 years of age; an unevenly aging planet with Japan as the oldest society with an average age of 45 and 80% of the older people living in developed countries.; a planet with 7% of its population being over 65 years of age; a tripling of that population over the last 50 years and another tripling in the coming 50 years to reach 21%, or 2 billion persons.
The earth: a planet with a larger share of over 60s than of children.
Europe has the highest proportion of older people, with 22% of the population older than 60 and scheduled to reach 34% by 2050, with Southern Europe even reaching 38%. This means that that the segment of the population over 65 is larger than the segment under 15.
The over-80-years-old segment is also growing at a steadily fast pace. By 2100 Europe will have a larger percentage of its population over 80 than the share of the population under 20. Those over 80 years old – expected to grow from 14% of the world’s population today to 19% (392 million persons) in 2050. That segment of the population is essentially feminine.
The economy of aging
If a large proportion – 31% – of the over-60 segment works, only 8% have a paid occupation in the developed countries, and those are essentially men. Coupled with a low birth rate, a number of economic challenges are raised.
The increase in life expectancy coupled with the decrease in fertility leads to a rise in old age dependency ratios with a resulting negative effect on per capita income growth. The global dependency ratio is expected to rise sharply after 2020, leading to increased poverty for the retired segment as well as a reduction in fiscal income.
There are two basic assumptions behind this reasoning:
– As the population declines, there is a decrease in demand for goods and services and therefore a reduction in economic growth and employment
– Governments will be unable to pay pensions and health care for an increasingly large share of the population and improve infrastructure.
Projections to 2030 for the old-age dependency ratio in at least two countries – Italy and Sweden – are as high as two persons of working supporting one person over 65.
An aging society puts pressure on public spending due to increases in the payment of pensions, in health spending and in social care costs.
Health in an aging society
Health costs of people over 65 are three times those of people between 20 and 64 and continue to grow over the lifetime of a person. The UN estimates that the worldwide cost of dementia is over 600 billion dollars a year.
The four main diseases affecting older populations are depression, fractures and concussions due to falls, memory loss and urinary incontinence. In general, women suffer more from these disabilities than men.
Only a small minority of older people obtain professional end-of-life care. Society relies mostly on unpaid relatives, generally women, and the period lasts an average of 5 years. Those requiring care are over 80 years of age and this segment of the population is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. Thus more caregivers will be required, whether professional or family members.
The average care giver is a 49-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends about 20 hours a week providing unpaid care for her mother. This reduces the need and therefore the cost, of nursing homes and prevents an increase in immigration.
Several European countries have made the choice of allowing older people to be maintained at home. It implies that several million persons need an adaptation of their housing, an extremely expensive exercise. Nevertheless, in Denmark, 12% of the housing has already been adapted to the needs of the aging population.
With the aging of the population there is a proportional rise in pension payments and of their share of GDP. There is a very large gap between the income people expect at retirement and their savings – the figure in Europe for this gap stands at nearly 2 trillion euros per year. This means that 40% of the people that are to retire may have to work longer.
The baby boomers were able to generate considerable savings towards the latter part of their career. However, as that generation retires, savings will diminish substantially and that will affect the pensions in the coming years. Spending from that age group will therefore diminish and it cannot be counted on to generate an economy rebound.
Today, the market catering to baby boomers is a major growth market.
As pensions are reduced, retirees will have to live on their savings, erasing any hope of an inheritance for their children. To avoid a repeat of this situation, the succeeding generations may decrease their spending and increase their savings.
The urban environment
The urban environment needs to be adapted to an aging society – more frequent bus stops, more benches, a larger number of stores. This will result in a higher infrastructure cost per capita as the population shrinks.
With the reduction in the offer of labor, economic growth will stall.
Possible solutions to the problems faced by aging societies include postponing the retirement age, increasing productivity through investments in training and increasing immigration flows.
Working beyond retirement age has positive effects on health, particularly if the job is a low-stress one. This is particularly true if continuing to work is a deliberate choice. Some, if not all, the seniors, would have to be retrained to use new technologies to maintain productivity and increase employability.
Studies have shown that allowing seniors to engage in a productive activity increases the GDP by 10%.
Alternative solutions include higher contributions during the working life, a reduction in health care expenditures and services or a more substantial immigration. Germany and Sweden have implemented a system whereby each person chooses the age at which he or she retires, and the pensions are adjusted accordingly.
The voting power of the seniors, who will represent an increased share of the electorate, will force governments to take difficult decisions in resource allocation – should the weighing be towards taking care of the elderly or of the shrinking younger population to increase their productivity through training.
Driven by the electorate, governments might allow easier immigration for younger people, particularly with health care qualifications to take care of the aging population. To maintain the European population steady at present levels, the immigration flow would have to be of the order of 1.5 million per year. The flow of immigrants probably coming from the Muslim world, cultural conflicts would be important.
Alternatively, entrepreneurs might draw pensioners to developing countries where pensions go a longer way than in their home countries.
An aging society is less likely to see innovative entrepreneurship and therefore will have a reduced economic growth. Attracting investments from countries that have large amounts of funds to invest abroad, such as China, could be a solution.
Major decisions lie ahead for governments that face problems that they have not faced before.
The Future Now Show with Steve Hill, Elena Milovaland Katie Aquino
Every month we roam through current events, discoveries, and challenges – sparking discussion about the connection between today and the futures we’re making – and what we need, from strategy to vision – to make the best ones.
B.J. Murphy, a Technoprogressive Transhumanist activist, USA
Katie Aquino, aka “Miss Metaverse”, Futurista™, USA
Paul Holister, Editor, Summary Text
Since prehistory humans have indulged in painting, puncturing and deforming their bodies for aesthetic reasons. In recent years this has taken a twist, with body hackers taking to incorporation of technology into their own bodies, from magnets (essentially endowing a new, magnetic, sense) to various electronic devices, which might start your car, track biometrics or pay for your shopping, or simply LEDs under the skin for decoration. Advances in areas from 3D printing (which is applicable both to prosthetics and the creation of replacement organs) to neurology to gene editing might, or maybe should, bring about a convergence of the realms of medical prosthetics, (cosmetic) surgery and the tattoo parlour. – Paul Holister
The Future of Consciousness: Robot Love – Sentience, and the Eye of the Beholder
Lise (Lisa) Voldeng is a CEO, futurist, inventor, and investor
Every morning, I receive trend alerts from an artificially intelligent program that analyzes data like human researchers once did. It predicts implications of trends, and potential futures, as I do. This morning it advised me of what it considers a new trend, “Tech toys that empower the next generation.” This week, I talk to the program’s creator and developer, to better understand how he developed the AI, and how it then develops its “insights” in order to state trend and future “implications.”
Last year, I wrote about AI and consciousness for a government agency that was seeking such questions, and answers… and assertions of implications. In that scenario, I asked these questions, and answered these questions – watching a Roomba.
Below is an excerpt, from one of my Roomba-inspired writings. I look forward, this week, to asking the same kinds of questions… of my implications-analyzing artificial intelligence creating developer colleague. Consciousness evolves, whether we are aware of its evolution, or not. Whether we are aware we created it, or not. Whether we believe we created it, or not. Therein lies our history, and our future:
‘…As I author this sentence, I am accompanied by the sounds of a vacuuming Roomba. Each day at 4pm PST, the Roomba leaves its docking station, to vacuum the main floor of my loft. Its sensors guide it around the room, sometimes effectively, and sometimes not so. Often, I have to lift my feet as it attempts to vacuum them. And more often, it catches things it should not be vacuuming, and I have to pause my work, to retrieve something from its suction, so we can both resume our respective work tasks.
If consciousness can be defined as “the totality of conscious states of an individual,” then what do I, as an individual, and the Roomba, which is also an individual ? though in this case, a machine individual ? have to separate us? Except human definitions of what consciousness is, or is not? While policy makers and theorists and strategists and technologists ponder this ? still, a Roomba vacuums. Making what can be described as strategic decisions, via its sensors, on what parts of a room to vacuum, or not.
And if a simple Roomba, using its sensors to assess environmental data to navigate a room, may be described as conscious ? then what is the consciousness capacity of, for example, a single complex system such as a drone network? Or more impacting, what is the consciousness capacity of the Internet, which is itself arguably the most complex connection of systems ever built?
Our ability to answer this question, today, and the myriad questions raised by this first question ? defines not only what we are, and what we consciously or unconsciously are becoming ? it defines what everything else is, in relation to us. And not only does it define what everything else is, in relation to us ? it defines whether we choose to develop systems of governance that respect the sovereign rights of conscious beings beyond our own definition of our own consciousness ? or whether we continue a path of development began by our ancestors many years ago ? the enslavement of beings for human use, extended from other humans and organic life forms, to machine life forms.
We are what create. And what we create, we also become.
Lise (Lisa) Voldeng is a CEO, futurist, inventor, and investor. Named one of the top 10 media thinkers of the 21st century by Nikkei Publishing, she runs a media and technology incubation lab called Ultra-Agent Industries Inc.
Club of Amsterdam blog
by Humberto Schwab, Philosopher, Owner, Humberto Schwab Filosofia SL, Director, Club of Amsterdam
The Ukrainian Dilemma and the Bigger Picture
by Hardy F. Schloer, Owner, Schloer Consulting Group – SCG, Advisory Board of the Club of Amsterdam
The impact of culture on education
by Huib Wursten, Senior Partner, itim International and
Carel Jacobs is senior consultant/trainer for itim in The Netherlands, he is also Certification Agent for the Educational Sector of the Hofstede Centre.
What more demand for meat means for the future
by Christophe Pelletier, The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.
Inner peace and generosity
by Elisabet Sahtouris, Holder of the Elisabet Sahtouris Chair in Living Economies, World Business Academy
… and many more contributions.
Biohacking can refer to:
- Do-it-yourself biology, a participatory citizen science movement
- Grinder (biohacking community), a transhumanist body modification movement
News about the Future
The Future of Jobs
The Future of Jobs Report presents information and data that were compiled and/or collected by the World Economic Forum.
The Futures of Work illuminates global changes and disruptions emerging in the world of work. This report encapsulates a year-long study of forecasts for work and workers, supported by a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation.
Four broad themes emerged from dozens of expert interviews and a review of hundreds of forecasts on the future of work:
Software and robotics will reshape work in nearly every industry and region—eliminating some jobs, complementing human workers in other jobs, and creating entirely new jobs. Whether machines ultimately take work from people or work alongside them, considerable turmoil is highly likely.
Flexible and freelance work structures could speed the destruction of conventional jobs, producing an uncertain mix of insecurity and freedom for workers at every level.
Workers in lower-income countries will need new paths to secure livelihoods in the face of these disruptive changes, as prior development models centered around rural work and manufacturing are losing their relevance.
New structures, from income guarantees to new kinds of asset ownership, are being proposed to help ensure a positive future for workers. The Futures of Work evaluates many of the most prominent ideas.
Recommended Book: Prospects for Human Survival
Prospects for Human Survival
by Willard Wells (Author), J. Daniel Batt (Illustrator)
Advanced technologies such as computers, genetics, nanotech, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) are progressing at an accelerating pace. Futurists speak of a time called The Singularity when progress will be so rapid that humans can no longer comprehend it. Many expect it during the mid-century.
Wells shows that the pace is too rapid for us to safely adapt. He discusses several of the most frightening hazards to our survival. He also develops simple mathematical formulas for survival probability. This formulation is not based on any list of specific hazards, but rather on the pace of progress. Statistical indicators of this pace include gross world product, number of papers published in science and engineering, and production of electricity and selected minerals.
Wells makes a strong case for developing friendly superhuman AI as quickly as possible, hopefully a nurturing artificial overlord that will protect us from ourselves. The danger is that it will not be as friendly as we hope, but the alternative is unacceptable risk.
Futurist Portrait: Jason Silva
Jason Silva is a media artist, futurist, philosopher, keynote speaker and TV personality.
He is the creator of Shots of Awe, a short film series of “trailers for the mind” that serve as philosophical espresso shots exploring innovation, technology creativity, futurism and the metaphysics of the imagination.
Shots of Awe has received more than 13 million views. He is also the Emmy nominated host of National Geographic Channel’s hit TV series Brain Games, airing in over 100 countries.
Once we realize the extraordinary power we have to compose our lives, well move from passive, conditioned thinking to being co-creators of our fate.
Cinema is a technologically mediated dreamspace, a way to access, a portal to the numinous that unfolded in the fourth dimension, so cinema became sort of a waking dream where we can travel in space and time, where we can travel in mind. This became more than virtual reality, this became a real virtuality…
We are the Gods Now – Jason Silva at Sydney Opera House