Fifty percent of jobs worldwide could disappear in ten years. The reason: digitization and the associated automation. Anders Indset, one of the world’s leading business philosophers, has outlined in his book “Quantum Economy” future scenarios for a world “after digitization”. LEAD spoke with Indset about a new operating system for the economy, the needs of the younger generation, and why a knowledge society is anything but desirable.
LEAD: The old economy is dead, the new economy is not working, now comes the Q-Economy – what can we imagine by the term quantum economy and why do we need it now?
Anders Indset: The quantum economy approach is based on the view that the world is essentially connected. We live according to hierarchies, structures and models that have brought us to some prosperity – but if we are honest then we live by failure, progress, crisis, change and strange events. Thus, the economic world of quantum physics is much more similar than the linear models on which we build everything.
Essentially, the goal of quantum economics is to maintain our livelihoods, organized coexistence, a new “operating system”, to avoid ecological collapse, to manage the use of exponential technologies – a long term humanistic basis.
It is important that it is not about winning or losing, but about playing as long as possible. In terms of the resource and the economy, this means that everything we produce today has to be infinitely applicable and infinitely usable – an absolute circular economy, so to speak.
LEAD: You are talking about a holistic view of economics, society and ecology and the development of an economic system that truly meets our needs. How have these needs changed in recent years?
Anders Indset: We suggest that consumption, possession and the use of resources lead to bliss. We live at the bottom of Maslow’s need pyramid and believe that one person’s basic rights are two houses and four SUVs. Over the years, this assumption has become increasingly extreme, there is a clear gap between rich and poor and Germany drifts radically apart.
In addition, people are becoming more and more tired and frustrated by technological fast-paced life and are no longer involved in all the developments. We want to own something, but we get frustrated and tired. Perspectively, therefore, we will probably evolve from consumers to users in a society that is only knowledge-based, because we can not process anything from the whole information and only react.
Such a knowledge society may help us in some situations in the short term – for example, a validation of statements by politicians in real time would certainly be helpful. In the long term, however, it would reduce people to just functioning and reacting. For knowledge is not understanding and man has a different role in my conception of a humanistic capitalism.
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“In public space, there are no real debates about deep thoughts and possible scenarios for the future, so people are completely overwhelmed.”
LEAD: To what extent are the needs of different generations different?
Anders Indset: Never has the gap between generations been greater than today! Just because 55-year-old managers and politicians believe they can put on a pair of colorful socks has not made them realize just how big the differences are with the younger generation. I refer to them as the “generation of the awakened” – young, conscious people who do not have Ferraris and yachts as a definition of bliss, but also immaterial goods.
They do not see the wealth in the account, but how they interact with each other and how they live together. The self-centered structures of our society react very painfully to the clearly asked questions of the younger generation.
These are not about the ego, but about facts and about confronting adults and politicians with questions about solutions. If no answers come then those politicians will not be elected anymore – that’s how the authoritarian structures of society will change. We are facing an evolutionary shift, a consciousness revolution that is urgently needed.
LEAD: The question of what comes after digitalisation is also related to what we can trust – or can trust – people in their decision-making power and responsibility. How competent do you rate us as power makers and decision makers?
Anders Indset: The politicians are a result of the system, so we can not blame them. I do have the desire to change and to act, both by management and by the older generation in politics.
Action to change comes from the symbiosis between heart and mind, which is often lacking in today’s control units. In public space, there are no real debates about deep thoughts and potential future scenarios. People are completely overwhelmed with it.
We debate on a very superficial level and have no understanding of terms such as digitization – neither objective nor subjective. When we talk about topics and terminology that we do not even have a world view or view of, we can not, as a logical conclusion, lead a profitable debate about it.
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LEAD: You write, we are facing the “greatest technological revolution of all time and hardly anyone seems to notice it”. Would not we have had to worry about that much sooner?
Anders Indset: Yes, of course – but this has always been the case in the history of mankind: We consider ourselves geniuses and think that the innovations and creations of our history are the result of ingenious thought processes. But to be honest, they come from clawing and copying and from failure. We are “missing” beings, if you like.
We are fantastic people with a lot of potential, but at the same time we fail and make mistakes. Outside the algorithmically calculated errors, we make progress – and if we do not understand and accept that, we celebrate genius and do not realize that what we believe to be a revolution is only a reaction to much earlier revolutions.
Brexit, AfD, Trump and the like are just reactions to 1994, to Netscape 1.0 – the launch of the commercial Internet – and we call it revolution. But we can not worry about that because we lack the gaze. Instead of looking, we use old data and try to predict. We would rather need an understanding of what could happen. If we do not ask the system questions and do not think beyond the disciplines, then we can not develop scenarios – and then we can not talk about solutions.
LEAD: You write: “A change of consciousness or decline – we have the choice”. What would a possible sinking scenario look like?
Anders Indset: One scenario is that we are destroying our livelihood. If we have destroyed the base on Earth, large parts of the earth can no longer be inhabited, then the number of people will drop from ten billion to perhaps a few million. I consider this scenario to be very negligent because we have to succeed in creating a livelihood for ten billion.
Another scenario concerns the technology. When we want to create a digital super-intelligence with our little monkey brains, we unconsciously become superfluous. The rapid development of exponential technologies would create a kind of posthumanism that would not be desirable for me. We would then be the second most intelligent beings on the planet but no longer useable.
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“The basis for a consciousness revolution is higher attention for the Ordinary.”
LEAD: How could the relationship between humans and technology optimally look like in the future?
Anders Indset: An optimum is and can not be, because systems are not designed that way. But there are visions that we can aspire to. There could be a new flowering of humanity: If we look at the subject extensively, I think, for example, that not only can we avoid a climate collapse, but we can reverse it as well, for instance through machines that are economically profitable and CO2 from the world Drawing air or by negative emission technologies.
That’s possible, but we need all our brains and true collaboration across disciplines and national boundaries. For me that would be the next evolutionary stage – a higher consciousness and a better interpersonal relationship through living with technology.
LEAD: What can individuals do today, individually or in groups, to be part of this consciousness revolution?
Anders Indset: We do not need a knowledge society, but an intellectual society. We must be interested and curious, have an interest in life and people and, above all, worry about what we mean by that.
The basis for a consciousness revolution is higher attention for the Ordinary. We only work and react – and, if we are consciously interested, we have much more freedom of action than we currently expect.