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It’s Different This Time


Kasey Lobaugh

Chief Futurist for one of the largest consulting practices on the planet, Kasey Lobaugh joins the futurists this week to talk about the building blocks for the worlds of tomorrow. While at Deloitte, Kasey has spearheaded research into the next level of disruptive innovations and technologies that are reshaping business. When talking AI Kasey maintains that this is unlike any other innovation wave we’ve ever faced and that large scale technounemployment is a real possibility.

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[Music] this week on the futurists Casey Loba
the historic record would say no no every time we've automated jobs we've created new ones yeah and the question
is is this like it's always been or is something different now my own instinct
tells me something is [Music]
different welcome back to yet another episode of the future I'm Rob Turk and
here's my co-host hey Brett King I'm here Brett yeah I'm actually in North
Carolina this week so um but back to Thailand end of next week Globe troter
good to have you back good to be back with you this time uh we've both been traveling quite a bit and man the future
keeps coming uh there's been a tremendous flood of news and information and so forth one of the things that we've been eager to do though uh now
that we're both back on the show together is interview a real futurist somebody who is spending their career
thinking about career futurist yeah right a professional futurist if you will and uh and so we reached out to a
longtime acquaintance of mine and at a company that everybody's gonna be familiar with let's give a big welcome
to Casey Loba Casey hi hey Robert how are you thank hey Brett how are you
thank you for having me on happy to have you here so Brett casy is the chief futurist uh for the consumer industry
with she's going to explain what that means uh for the firm deoe Consulting and uh for those I'm from of deoe
Consulting I didn't oh that's cool tell me about that yeah no no I was I I had it I was director of e business at an
Asia Pacific during the dot era for deoe um originally started with deoe in
Australia then they they moved me to the Hong Kong office which was the headquarters for Asia at the time um but
of course back in those days you know it was all very industry focused so um that's you know I had to choose an
industry so I chose Financial Services of course right that's that's a good setup for this conversation because
Casey is focused he's he's the futurist for the consumer industry and I was a little unclear exactly what that means
so so Casey tell us a little bit about the consumer industry and what it means to be a futurist there yeah excellent
Robert and first of all Brett I I love the fact that you're alumni at deoe we have alumni everywhere uh and of course
um I really always appreciate meeting people you and I were catching up a little bit on our parallel paths from back in the day but nonetheless um the
consumer industry for us you know we think about it like this is that um you know the consumer you know has their
wallets divided two ways you've got your non-discretionary spending uh and then you've got discretionary spending a
discretionary spending really is a broad collection of dollars that are spent by the consumer on everything from Autos to
hotels restaurants uh retail consumer package Goods uh and I'm sure I'm
leaving other categories out here here convenience stores supermarkets Etc um you know all of that for us falls into
what we call the consumer industry because the same forces that are are guiding the economics of the consumer
and their decisions and their lifestyle really affect all of those categories and so we think really broadly about how
the consumer may be changing about how they're interacting with those categories spending money differently uh
you know evolving over time so that's how we get to this this idea of the consumer industry okay so it's way
broader than I had IM imagined when I first heard about this um but you leave a couple categories out so it doesn't
include spending on energy Does it include things like mortgages or is that outside of that as well that would be
outside so we've got Financial Services uh that would be a separate industry for us or at least the way we think about it though there is relationship and we
certainly spend a lot of time talking about the relationships uh you know one of the industries that would be separate would be healthc care however you'll
hear me talk about this today about the convergence of these industries and where consumer and Healthcare are coming
together um and energy while we wouldn't put the energy companies in the consumer
category certainly the the venues through which we're selling energy to the consumer are in you know are within
the purview of the consumer category so for example a convenience store uh would absolutely be considered a consumer
industry uh company for us that's a good illustration of convergence because just about every gas station now seems to
have a little mini market attached to it and so you that's a good a tiny micro example of this kind of convergence
you're describing where the the bound are being blurred between you know consuming energy and consuming you know
candy bar or a can of soda um but basically so you're focused on on discretionary spending in the home um
but one thing that blurs those categories is also that people are cutting back on non-discretionary you know for instance Healthcare as an
example as a cost of that continues to go up people are trying to find ways to maybe cut back on that so that they can
go buy a new iPhone or something else yeah and even even as we talked about you know why why why waste your money on
insulin seriously you know crazy right they crazy that we have
to make those decisions in this day and age but yeah that's that's right and you you can't focus on just the non-d
discretion or just the discretionary portion of the wallet without recognizing the changes that are happening on the non-discretionary side
yeah yeah because the big macro change is that the price of everything is going up I know the the the inflation story is
not new um but you know really the inflation story goes way back to 2008
we've seen inflation in asset prices that's for more than a decade um and as
a result you know the cost of housing has gone up um we're also seeing that kind of steady rise in the price of
automobiles as people switch to EVS those cost something something like 20 25% more than a than an internal
combustion car so uh cost are rising across the board how are consumers
reacting to them actually well let me address this question about cost are rising across the board because you you
did exactly what we've done is sort of go back over a longer range and think about because of course
everybody wants to talk about inflation today but if you go back all the way back to 2000 you you'll find that there's two distinct categories roughly
divided between non-discretionary and discretionary what you'll find is categories like Hospital Services
College tuition college textbooks Medical Services child and nursery school care all of those have been on an
incredibly strong inflationary tear much longer Horizon than you know the
inflation pressure that we're talking about now now conversely though if you looked at TVs toys computer software
computer services cell phone services even clothing uh you'll find that there's been an incredible deflationary
pressure for quite some time and even when you put it in the context of the recent inflation you'll still see that
over that time period we're having incredible deflation even uh just of this week as the new inflation report
came out you see the same exact division yeah showing up in the inflation report that we get even over this week so you
have to recognize this back to this comment about like the more we inflate costs on the non-discretionary side that
actually steals from the discretionary wallet and you know that's part of the question of the future is has something
strally changed or not it's even more um you know like I don't know straightforward than that which is you
know real wage growth has been absent in the US and and UK you know and
Australian economies you know to name a few for for years effectively you know
real wage growth is stagnated so um you know with more and more automation coming in there's going to be more and
more pressure on uh wage growth um you know and corporations are going to be
making a decision to jump in with you know a AI in in in preference of paying
higher salaries for for individuals as well so this is not this problem is not
going away and and um you know we we talk about economic impact at a at a consumer
level and and CPI and so forth but let's not forget that consumption is a major element of economic growth um and this
is why when we talk about population growth shrinking it's it's a a major
problem for the Chinese economy moving forward um this the one child policy because they don't have all those
consumers in the middle class getting more affluent and and consuming there's a there's a logical limit to that and
there's an argument that the US with its immigration policy you know over the last you know 100 years or so has really
um stimulated consumption by importing buyers into the economy and that's a that's a key element so a consumption at
a discretionary and non-discretionary basis are very important um you know for
the health of an economy and when you have um you you don't have that wage growth in terms of spending dollars and
you got the spending crunch on both ends of it coming then that's going to have a deleterious effect to the economy over
time no absolutely if if you thought about the birth rate in the US if you look at where we're at today we're now
below the replacement level so without immigration over the next decade we'll have fewer people right topic quite a
bit on the show it's actually across the entire Northern Hemisphere um yeah no
population in the northern hemisphere is above replacement rate at this point they're all hovering below two uh two
children per couple that's a real problem uh for the long-term growth of the economy and for Social Security
Casey let me let me roll back to something you said because I think it's an important distinction that we we didn't get to cover uh just building on
what Brett was talking about you know we've we've now seen two big factors in the economy that go back many decades
one is uh what what uh what Brett was referring to which is the stagnation of real income or real wages that's a
that's been a gigantic issue uh for working people but at the same time there's been this steady increase and
rather a spectacular increase in certain categories and the categories that are growing are those that are Services uh
particularly services that require a lot of people education College uh healthc care um and uh and that's put a real
squeeze on on household budgets those two factors put a squeeze on household budgets so manufacturers of consumer
goods they're smart they see this trend they understand they pivoted and they' found ways to squeeze out cost and so
the cost of things of stuff material Goods that's dropped right we we can actually say there's been like you
talked about a deflationary pressure there um in a way that's necessity right because otherwise people would stop
buying stuff we also notice that in the quality of the products that we buy because a lot of products uh you know as
they squeeze out cost they're actually literally squeezing out material uh the weight of packages has decreased for
instance over the last 25 years significantly uh is that part of what you analyze when you look at the
consumer industry those kinds of factors yeah without a doubt so we we went out through a process and really tried to
figure out what are all the things we need to pay attention to which was a really you know uh extensive and
difficult process but through that process we we surfaced um well over a hundred distinct things that that we
thought we needed to pay attention to and you know every topic that we've raised so far uh on on on this
conversation um have been topics that without a doubt were part of what were were raised through that conversation so
we're we're trying to study all of those continually monitor those and then more
importantly is understand what they mean and what happens when they converge okay let's dig a little deeper
into that because methodology is a topic that we love to get into in the show particularly in the beginning of the show uh so you're a futurist you're
working with this Global consulting firm and you're looking at the future of the of the consumer industry now some of
what you've done is you've taken a look at historical Trends and I fully agree with that you can't forecast unless you
understand the the long-term trajectory of where we're coming from so that makes a good deal of sense uh you're also looking at multiple
factors you mentioned 100 different factors but you've also created a kind of a formulation um you you've got these
six factors that you zero in on can you tell us a little bit about the six factors that Define the future yeah sure
thing and and by the way with the six factors were more of an organizing construct that we applied after we
surfaced the H hundred or so things so the first effort was just to really um
sometime I refer to like shake the bushes let's see what all falls out let's see all thep topics that um you
know and I'll talk about sort of the broad group that we pulled together but the question was what all do we have to
care about now as we did that 100 or so things becomes almost overwhelming but then we started playing the game of how
do you organize them and which things are like each other Etc and ultimately we came up with what we call the six
forces shaping the future of the consumer industry now those forces are the the first one is really about a
changing consumer and so for us if you look at the consumer it's Dem demographics the changing demographics
it's sexuality and gender identity its economics its geography uh you know it's
um wealth and wealth disparity income disparity you know all those elements
that sort of make up those dimensions of the consumer that's the first one the second one is really society and culture
because that consumer who they are is defined by how they relate to a broader
culture how they relate to neighbors how they form groups how those groups help Define who they are and frankly what's
important to them in terms of spending so a lot of what we do as as consumers you know relates to us trying to
represent or participate in society and culture the third component is really we
it's really technology but we call it exte now this is our own term that we've come up with that really tries to convey
a broader collection of Technologies than just infotech we're trying to convey specifically for our consumer
clients that think deeply about infotech a lot that when we say the word technology we're also talking about
biotech and Material Science and advances in space and you know and other technologies that are increasingly
converging and becoming important for our industry to understand and talk about the fourth element is uh industry
upheaval and it's really a specific view of what are the things happening with the industry some of which are Financial
so for example consumer spending over the last decade grew about 3.6% ker
however many consumer companies would love to have a 3.6% growth keger during
the same period so what why are companies not performing at the rate of consumer spending and there's some
reasons behind that but you also have declining barriers to entry fragmentation of market share there's a
lot happening when you just analyze the industry that's actually really causing significant upheaval of course all of
this operates you know within the context of an extreme climate and planet of course consumer IND the consumer and
consumer industry as I've defined it you know produces 60% of all the greenhouse gases so that begins to tell you the
role that this industry must play and you know in many ways you'll know this is that we're on a dire trajectory now
yeah but when you when you recognize that we've got about 3.9 billion consumers globally today and we're going
to add another two billion over the next decade this idea of what
role our um industry must play as it pertains to the planet becomes much more
um emphasized well so I want to drill down on that so tell me yeah I'll let
you finish your thought just just one more category of the six it's shifting
economics its policy its power in politics and of course that's a broad
collection of things but they're the things that you know are defining the rules the behaviors the economics of of
how we're operating as a broader economy um what we're trying to incent where we're finding uh you know changing
policies that would be the wrappers around the industry so there's a lot in that category but those are the six categories uh that that we came up with
for the hundred or so topics okay cool we're gonna have questions of course there's plenty there's plenty
there to go into let's just briefly recap for the people who are listening so uh there's six factors one is the
changing consumer the second one is an evolving Society the third one is exponential technology uh then the
fourth is radical industrial industry upheaval uh radical change coming to to
Industries and then the fifth is radical climate change yeah and then finally the
last one is the policies that govern the allocation of resources so you could say government and politics and so on that's
just a quick recap now Brett I know you're chomping at the bit to jump in this don't let me stop you away well so
so I think um what's interesting about this if if you look at a number of these
um obviously there's consumer pressures and there's trans you know Technologies changed Behavior look at the smartphone
look at social media obviously but on a broader basis um you know when it comes
to actually reshaping industry it's almost as if you know and
this is what I argue in in technos socialism in the book um is it's almost a philosophical um fork in the road
because um extreme climate change in in particular but also the fact that
technology is going to upheave a lot of these industries look at Healthcare going to be biotech gene therapy you
know better sensor Technologies all of these sort things all of the old skill sets of the Industrial Revolution
essentially evaporate so you have entirely new basis of sort of um value
creation at a market level but at the same time you have the the need for
corporations and Industry to be net social positive rather than just using
resources to create profits and it doesn't matter if we pollute the Earth and you know and and kill people because
of pollution or whatever um so you you have this sort of almost a Renaissance
um you know I would call it um in in terms of where corporations fit into the
world in respect to their their broader social mission do do you think that that
is an outcome for this or will capitalism win out you know in in respect to it doesn't matter as long as
you're still making profits because how how well has that worked for us today with climate change right yeah no no
we're we're we're pushing on the idea so I agree with you completely that that we have to get corporations to recognize
that the role that they have to play in this Renaissance this change that's before us uh is significantly different
than where we've come from you know you'll hear us and we've done our report that we call buying into better and
buying into better is really trying to encapsulate that idea for the consumer industry we have to Traverse the
complexity that's before us but we also have to make choices that uh impact
Society uh you know our consumer base our neighbors we have to play a different role than our industry has
played historically that's one of the big outcomes that comes out of the study that we've done in some respects
industry is uh on defense because the consumer is changing the consumer is empowered the consumer is able to make
decisions uh you know today the the 3.9 billion people you mentioned they all have a smartphone in their pocket so
they're they've got abundant choices they can be shopping in another online store even while they're inside of a
retail shop this is unprecedented territory for retailers and for consumer goods business uh we're to get into that
in the second half but I think what we should probably do now is um we like to do this uh special procedure with our
guests um and it's going to be Brett that administers the procedure this time it's our rapid fire round we're gonna
ask you a bunch of quick questions so that audience can get to know you a little bit better go for it Brett okay
here is the lightning round what was the first science fiction
you remember being exposed to on uh TV books film so as you asked the question I
remember band of the Lost uh tv show when I was young that uh you know really
was interesting and and caught my attention reminds me a lot of that Time Tunnel Remember The Time Tunnel and that
that was that was funny um what technology has most changed Humanity to
date do you think it's got to be the connectivity the connectivity uh that we've that we
achiev through internet connection so just broadly the the connectivity ofation information the flow of
information very cool so you call yourself a futurist but um can you name
a futurist or an entrepreneur that really influenced you in your career uh
so I I I I follow Ray Ray kwell um and I think you know my introduction to him
and his you know thinking through Singularity University um probably
prompted me to really start digging deeper into a broader set of understanding of trend
and we've had a few Singularity view um pract or people on like rames and and
others um in terms of uh the forecasting element what do you think is the best
prediction or best forecast a entrepreneur or a futurist or a Sci-Fi
practitioner has ever made I don't know I I don't know that I have an answer to that I don't know that
there's a in fact I I focus a lot on bad forecasts because I'm trying to learn as much from when when bad forecasts were
made as I am trying to figure out what forecasts are the right ones there's a lot more bad forecasts out there so you
have no shortage of examples all right so last one is there a science fiction story that is
representative of the future you hope for so there's a book that came out last
year called AI 2041 with Kai yeah yeah and I think
within that there are some great stories I love what they did is brought together Science Fiction with you know actual
people that are in the industry that are tracking with technology I think there's some really great stories in that that
begin to paint a profound picture of the potential of course some of the stories paint a picture of the dystopian
possibilities yeah but you know within that are some real utopian um outcomes
that are possible yeah I tried that in augmented actually with my book in 2015
2015 I told three stories at the end about you know like science fiction stories and embedded in in the book
short story so um I think it's a good technique you know it works I mean think about the the Motorola flip phone right
you know and and uh you know and and it's influenced by the Star Trek Communicator right and one of the things
I've noticed in doing uh scenario planning with with client companies is after you after you get a certain
distance out into the future say five years or more it's all storytelling and
once you get out to like a 10year horizon it's science fiction at that point because you're taking trends
you're aware of you're going to try to extrapolate you can't do a linear extrapolation because it never works that way I I call my futurism short-term
sci-fi yeah for that I think that makes a good deal of sense all right well that has been a fun round uh thanks Casey for
answering those questions we're g to take a short break but folks don't go far because we're going to be right back with Casey Loba in part
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podcast and radio show welcome back to the futurists uh
I'm your host brick King with Rob Turk in the hosting seat and our guest this
week Casey aloba um Casey um you know in in terms
of um constructing this sort of research and so forth um you know how do you how
do you come up with the thesis behind this in terms of you know as a futurist
what's going to add value from a corporate perspective so as we said out as I
mentioned before I was I was worried about making predictions I was worried
uh because there's so many bad predictions you know that really found their way into our industry into the
conventional wisdom so the first thing I thought about was well how will we go about it in a way that isn't just me
sitting in a room prophesizing uh and the way I thought about it was to think
about the process if you believe in the process you believe in the outcome so we set out to really Define a robust
process with great input diverse input so at this point we've interviewed and involved in workshops over 800 people uh
those are certainly people from across the industry that have expertise in the various sectors that make up the industry many people within deoe but we
also interviewed a whole collection of clients we talked with every major industry group that makes up the
industry I went to Academia we talked talked with institutes that study the future we talked with places like we had
MIT media lab spend a day with them uh Wall Street analysts um economists
sociologists we just tried to be really robust we also talked we had a group of the youngest people at deoe you know our
youngest professionals we engaged them in a conversation uh and then we also have uh a consumer Tracker Where We
survey consumers every month across 20 different countries that was also an input so what we tried to do is really
make sure that we had a holist View and of course you'll know this is that no one person amongst that group had the
complete view of all the things that were going on that mattered so it was only because we were able to convene
such a great great group could we have a really broad view of what were the
forces that are coming together so you took diverse inputs uh both demographically in terms of age uh and
and um and geographically but also from a number of different businesses right so when you say consumer industry you're
talking about everything from food and fashion and apparel to consumer electronics and consumer goods uh so
that's pretty broad as well so you're getting diverse inputs but I imagine you end up with this kind of scattering of
snapshots how do you then unify that into a cohesive hole yeah you're right
that was the first part which was a bit mindbending to to have the complexity and the sheer amount of information that
we brought together and then it was a a bit of an organizing effort which of these things are like each other which
of these conflict with each other because of course one person would say things are going left another person would say things are going right and
then we actually set out to do the research within deoe luckily I have enough resources to convene a team and
set set about um the the research on each of the topics that came up as we
did that they started the form into the six categories that we shared earlier and now we've got the platform of
information and really we're establishing the processes now to keep it Evergreen and make sure that we're staying on top of the changing what did
you learn in the process what were the findings or let's say the implications yeah so we you know the
first step was the six forces but at that point all we've said is man there's a lot going on and really what our
clients want to know is yeah but what does it mean to us right and so then we set out with trying to think about how
do you work your way through the implications and imagine for a minute what does this mean for both Airlines
and for fast food and those were the that was the challenge right so we we developed a model that we call the three
M model uh for the industry so the 3M would be markets what does it mean for
markets and for that you know what is being sold you know who's buying it how
are we selling it how is it changing how are value propositions changing the second m is models so think business
models you know how are we organizing ourselves as business units how are we sourcing capabilities how are ecosystems
changing by which we operate and then the third is mechanics and it's really how do we run our business what role
does labor play how are we changing the granularity of execution that we're having to execute at you know how do we
think about the financial mechanics of how we generate profitability those are all the things that sort of fall under
each of those such a Consulting way
to you need a methodology it's fun for us dissect the methodology but even as you're saying those things I'm starting
to you relate the the three M that you mentioned back to your six different um
factors that are going to cause change you know so for instance in mechanics we can think about Automation and we can
think about Robotics and artificial intelligence changing the way a business operates right but in terms of models
you can see there's a big shift now that's that's been underway for some time from selling a single unit to
selling either bulk or subscription right so that's uh you're starting to see subscription to dog food you know
just about anything you you might buy on a regular basis is available on a subscription basis now from Amazon so
that's that's not necessarily new but that's certainly a big Trend so is that the kind of methodology you're talking about just to give it some specific yeah
without a doubt but let me add a couple of additional colors because the things you hit on are right uh under mechanics
we also talk a lot about Workforce extremes where there's some component of the workforce that's in high demand and
there's another portion of the workforce that's at risk of being created redundancy big topic there go into that
tell us more about that yeah so if if you look at the estimates right we've got roughly 190 million jobs the United
States and somewhere between depending on who you look to between 40 and 70 million of those jobs are at risk of
being automated away in the next decade so you know as you dig into that you
have to ask yourself not only what does it mean for our Workforce but the workforce is also the consumer base so
we know for a healthy consumer industry we need a healthy consumer a healthy
consumer base uh and you have to begin to recognize what does it potentially mean for the changing Workforce Dynamics
and that's yeah this is the original Henry Ford Insight that if you pay your workers a reasonable wage they can
afford to buy your product right and that was yeah at the time he was considered almost socialistic right people were outraged he was paying his
workers so much but he managed to get the best workers so paid off for him that's right now business is going the
opposite direction where you know the current hoopla around artificial intelligence is I think it's a somewhat
overhyped in the near-term but long-term implications are clear sure are going to get displaced right I think that's it's
an inevitable conclusion as you think through the the possibilities for Applied artificial intelligence yeah I
heard Gary ve had a good illustration of this the other day I don't know if you heard it Rob but he said um AI is the
tractor you know if you look at um farming and agriculture in the United States prior to the Industrial
Revolution 75% of workers worked in the farming agriculture sector today it's
1.3% right and so that's happened because of of the tra um but um you know and AI is the new
tractor but the the the question mark is where are all the new jobs going to come
from you know when AI disrupts um and that's a social question it's not a
employment labor force question it's it's sort of the role of work in society is sort of redefined by AI well it's a
it's a great debate yeah and that debate always comes up through conversation U but if you break down what roles do
humans play play in in the workforce it's really one of three you're first is
physical we're doing physical work like working on a manufacturing line Second is we're doing cognitive work making
decisions like buying decisions Etc uh and then the third would be creative
work now the idea would be that okay historically every time we automate away
away work we create new jobs now the question is what are those new jobs going to be to your question uh and can
technology displace those jobs so we clearly are seeing cognitive uh with
some of the uh you know AI examples that exist in the marketplace but we're also seeing creative right with generative Ai
and what I'm I'm questioning and it's just part of this debate is okay at least historically there's always been a
category of jobs that couldn't be automated and we elevated to those jobs but I'm not sure as we sit here today
that there's a category of of those three categories that that can't be affected by technology no but that's the
point is we're trying we're designing we are seeking to build AI that could
disrupt all of those right artificial general intelligence and the key thing is simultaneously right so it's quential
and so there's no place to go in in the short run and and I would also add across every industry simultaneously
exactly yeah that's right and Robotics destroys entire job categories and it does it simultaneously across Industries
so for instance um you know just about every um just about every grocery store
drugstore and hardware shop now has automated checkout counters right not not 100% but but the bulk of the
checkout areas are now self-service and automated um so that eliminates the job of the clerk who does the scanning and
the you know runs the cash register but the problem is that person can't go across the street when their jobs destroyed because right the company
across the street for competitive reasons had to adopt the same technology and so the category's gone that's new
that's kind of new and that's a little bit scary but Brett the thing that bothers me the most about this scenario
the thing that troubles me the most I think is AI is taking jobs that haven't even been invented yet right so that you
know the really creative application of artificial intelligence is to apply it to things that humans don't yet do but
then that closes an Avenue for the future right so you can imagine easily that in the three categories you mentioned Casey physical work that's
being replaced by Automation and machines and eventually robotics that's been underway for a couple hundred years
cognitive work that's been replaced by artificial intelligence and machine learning learning um and then creative work the new generative AI certainly
represent a pretty significant threat even in their kind of infant stage I think they still are kind of an infant
stage but the potential is quite clear right so where do we go next well the the things you might do next those are
already being cornered by artificial intelligence that's where the scenario gets scared there's no there's no next place to go to challenge me if I'm wrong
because I really do want to hear a counter to them this as I mentioned this is the debate my mind always goes where
you went however the historic record would say no no every time we've automated jobs we've created new ones
yeah and the question is is this like it's always been or is something different now my own instinct tells me
something is different well we know we know it's different because we've never had the technology to replicate what a
human does right you know from so that that's the the difference is that humans
are interchangeable with an algorithm or a robot now that that's never been the case before so anything you can train a
human to do you'll be able to train an algorithm or a robot to do in the future
so then the question is well if you can train an algorithm or AI to do anything
a human can do how can a human differentiate the answer is we can't so this leads to you know then then whether
you're an employe an AI or whether you employ a human is purely an economic decision in today's terms and that's the
key problem the key problem is that we are we don't have an economic system
that will value human workers over machines and and to be fair um you know
like whenever we think about science fiction and these utopian Futures we
have have always modeled that on the basis of eliminating work that is menial you know
and getting you to things that are really truly interesting and and uh you know um you know it sort of advanced the
spe species you know art and you know science Etc but um you know it's it's
it's a really interesting question because I think ultimately you know we're getting to that point where
um you know we we disrupt the role of humans in society and you know if you're
if you're trying to tie That Into You Know economic performance of the economy and and labor participation and all of
that all of those rules get broken by this Brett let me let me build with some
of our industry specific insights on this because not only is it talking not only are we talking about you know
machines doing what humans can do if you look at the industry the industry is evolving in a way that there's things
that need to be done that you can't actually use hum to do so uh Robert you
mentioned this earlier this you know explosion of optionality you know we like to say the market has shifted from
being Supply driven the consumer industry to being really demand driven meaning the consumer has more options
and therefore they're making choices that are are not constrained by the availability of supply and that means
that the market is shifting from Supply driven to demand driven we use the term moving from Mass to micro right the
industry was built for mass production Mass distribution Mass marketing and however you know that's how companies
are built those are requirements we built for we're moving to more of a a micro segmentation of the market and the
problem is is that if you try and apply humans to this level of granularity of decision
making let me use just a quick example to highlight this you know if you go into most of your favorite retailers in
Omaha Nebraska or in Dallas Texas or you know Florida what you're going to find
is they're generally the same however they're moving rapidly away from that let's call this hyper localized
assortment to say the store in North Kansas City and South Kansas City have very different consumers demographics
are really fragmenting uh needs wants design desires Etc so therefore in order
to compete with this Market that has more options you have to become hyper relevant wow now how does a national
chain deal with that like how does the problem is is that the traditional way is you have a merchant who's planning
the assortment but if you now have 1500 stores you have 1500 assortments to plan
and predict and it's possible with data for sure we've proven it's possible um
but it's not possible to have 1,500 humans with 1500 spreadsheets um you
know managing um that level of complexity so it's not just a matter of hey can humans do it it's actually no
the requirements of what needs to be done are changing and you can only do that through a different approach
utilizing technology so it's not a simple replacement it's an evolution to where the requirements are so complex
that you can't do it the old way that make sense yeah I hear what you're saying let me let me let me offer an
alternative scenario and I don't know if this fits but this is what's on my mind when I hear you talk about that so certainly as I looked at the report I
get your point about the proliferation of diverse choices and optionality and in a way that like speaks to what we all
experience when we go on Amazon cognitive overload right so I use Amazon because it's fun to fun to pick on
Amazon um you know the the the UI there if you're searching for just a generic product uh you're going to end up with
10,000 choices many of them coming many of them look identical and many of them are coming from obscure companies that
you've never heard from and so forth so for the consumer this is a feeling of cognitive overload and and one one
reaction to that that I've noticed is consumers go on strike they just say I'm gonna buy less stuff partly
that's a reaction to the fact that wage growth has been stagnating for many years uh that costs of other things have
gone up that it's absorbing on my budget and so on uh what happens when buyers go on strike and if if AI is going to
really displace a lot of workers you're going to see many people who were formerly consumers who are now no longer
able to I mean this is the whole argument be for Universal basic income
is we keep people consuming right that's in itself a problem right Ubi who pays
for it right there's no way that's a can of worms right there oh my God like it's like that is the most utopian scenario
I've ever heard but but look as an alternative to you know 60% unemployment
it's a reasonable um I right sure it's it's reasonable if you start to do the
math and even giving a a small stien like $2,000 a month you get into trillions of dollars just in the United
States alone sure any other Nation by the way the economics get worse it's much harder to do $2,000 a month is not
enough to support a person uh right now in a major city in the United States but the cost of that uh per capita if you
multiply across the whole population of the US is close to8 trillion a year and that's more than the United States
government takes in in taxes right now and already Americans are are over taxed right so like half the population here
is like would go into an Insurrection if you tried to raise taxes I just don't see how you can tax well so so either
either you have to ban AI so humans keep working or you have to have Ubi and you
have to figure out how to pay for it I mean that's the binary option right what's what's the
alternative yeah so for the people who want to keep working the implication is clear you got a master working with the
machines and you've got to upskill and stay ahead and by the way not easy not
an easy thing to do uh I've been investigating prompt craft here partly because my social media crowd has been
hassling me to get better at promp craft so I'm like I'm feeling the social heat to get on top of it and uh you know it's
it's necessary to keep your blade sharp you got to keep practicing you got to stay in order to stay relevant I'm not
sure that every worker feels that way though I think there's quite a lot of people in the workforce who are like I'm
not going to upskill and that's like a choice to become obsolete this is a really scary scenario right and BR it
reminds me of a diagram from your book uh technos socialism where you gave four
scenarios right you know one is listan another one is neoism another one is
fistan and then technosocial ISM ultimately is in the top right corner of that diagram which is you know we've
been conditioned to believe that's always the optimal corner to be in uh share with us a little bit about that
and I want to hear Casey's perspective as we kind of steer to a conclusion what the implications are
here because I think what we've done Casey is we've discovered that well you have a really interesting
report uh once you start to unpack the implications of that report we barely began to do that in this episode you
start to open up a series of cans of worms and it's like wow that's a nasty scenario and we don't need to push this
scenario further than we've already done it but I would love to hear Brett just recap those four scenarios briefly and
then I'd love to get Casey's reaction to each sure so um this is how we modeled
future um sociopolitical economic organizing principles right two basic
axes um one is individual over Collective so um you know if you look at
the European economies they tend to be more collectively oriented whereas the US tends to place more emphasis on
individual rights right so individual rights versus Collective rights and then on the other axis it's um chaotic
Futures versus planned Futures so um you know like the great reset you know type
principles you know where we're planning for the future future and we're mapping this out of many decades versus you know
we'll just you know free market we'll see what happens right so that's the four quadrants so in the uh in the
collective uh chaotic you have the L stand scenario this is where we ban um
ban AI specifically because of the effect it's having on unemployment and we can't figure out how to pay for Ubi
so the only way to stop um machines taking jobs is to ban them from taking jobs um that's a fairly small percentage
in terms of likelihood then you've got the individual chaotic which is the fa
to stand where individually focused economies don't really focus on Collective Solutions and so they leave
it too late you know for for things like response to climate change and so forth and it and it produces basically
systemic collapse on the the United States is what you're describing well so
but so fail to St it could be the outcome but more likely in the United States is going to be what we call Neo
feudalism which is the collective plan where you have the wealthy Elite sort of trying to construct a society where you
have this permanent stratification of the landlord class or the feudal class you have the poor versus the rich and
the rich get you know longevity treatments and have access to all the best stuff you know but if you can't
afford to be in that group then you're you're left to your own devices so the elisium sort of SFI future but the you
know we argue the optimal form of humanity one that focuses on the the the outcome for species wide is technosocial
ISM using technology to reduce the cost of government and you know produce a better quality of life for all right so
they're the four scenarios that um that we we've we put in the book so I'd love
to hear Casey what your thoughts are in terms of the likely outcomes of those yeah BR I I look at all of those and say
they're all possible outcomes uh you know in particular you know in particular if you sort of think about
where we're heading currently the United States you'd look at Neo feudalism and you'd say that feels like the direction
we're heading but part of what we took on this effort for was to establish an
understanding of the possibilities and the forces but more importantly is like surface the choices because this isn't
feta compete that we that we uh end up somewhere we actually will end up at the
place that we that our Collective choices take us and if you don't
understand our the conversation right yeah if you don't if we don't understand the forces and what those choices are
then yes you will end up wherever we end up we want you know our firm wants I passionately want to be part of helping
to understand the choices that we have to make to pick the place that we play like what is the future that we desire
and what do we have to do collectively and if you stop and think about the agency that we have collectively I mean
deoe is a massive organization we're I'm proud of the influence that we have but frankly the number of people that we
have the number of people that you reach via this podcast collectively we have a ton we have so much agency and we have
to employ that agency to help us get to the place we want to get to the Future that we want uh our outcome you know and
that's why we've taken this effort we call it buying and the better and we're we're you know as focused on ourselves
and what do we what's the role that we as a firm have to play uh in creating that future as we are in trying to help
our clients to also understand the role that they need to play so then the qu the obvious question is um how do we
guarantee a more Collective outcome versus arguing over whether our tribe or
you know our our you know economic group wins no I think I think that's right is
to understand what are the limitations we have of making the right Collective decisions today and how do we begin to
address uh the shared outcomes and those it's not easy I can't just give you answer that says here's how you do it
but it certainly takes collaboration it takes participation by governments it takes uh you know investment by you know
Global corporations that that have connective tissue globally um and it takes real concertive effort to align
the outcomes you know with the uh decision- making that you know drives those outcomes I think it takes better
incentives frankly I think the market incentives are you know what we describe as perverse incentives economically but
anyway that's great right Casey thanks for joining us man oh thanks for the opportunity as you as you hear there's
so much to talk about yeah that's true we barely got into it Casey was great seeing you today thanks for joining us
nice seeing you Robert Casey just quickly before we go where can people get in touch with you find out more
about the report yeah you can find me on LinkedIn Casey Loba you can follow me on
uh Twitter or you at at k l o b Au u g or just Google buying into better deoy
and you'll find us fantastic so um great to have you on the show thanks for
joining us that's it for the show this week guys if uh if you enjoy the show make sure you tweet it out share it with
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