“You see it’s like a portmanteau — there are two meanings packed up into one word” — Humpty Dumpty To Alice (Through The Looking Glass, 1871)
In Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty explains Alice the meaning of some words in the poem Jabberwocky. One such word is mimsy which is a combination of miserable and flimsy. Jabberwocky is considered the greatest nonsense poem in English and involves the killing of a mythical beast — the Jabberwock.
Today, there are lot of terms such as Ethereum, Merkel Tree, hash functions etc that don’t make sense to many. I am also in the same boat to some extent.
The world of FinTech has its own portmanteaus such as Cryptocurrency which is a combination of Cryptography and Currency.
However, FinTech is not just a portmanteau but rather it is two culturally different worlds fused together to create a stronger experience for the client.
While the traditional financial world has always viewed Silicon Valley with suspicion and because of the debate around disruption, Wall Street keeps close tabs on the west coast laboratory.
In the same token, Silicon Valley has relied on Venture Capital to fuel its growth but has viewed Wall Street inefficient and as an opportunity to disrupt.
Literally, the Suits (Wall Street) and the Hippies (Silicon Valley) need to speak the same language but right now rely on translators I.e people who understand some part of Silicon Valley but are experts in traditional Finance and people with the inverse skills.
Today, if there is an entrepreneur that can bridge the gap between the trust and scalability that Wall Street offers and the innovation that Silicon Valley brings, he will become THE Translator and will be highly sought after. What that means is establishing a business that takes the Blockchain and marries it with social scalability (a term used by Nick Szabo — the designer of a precursor to Bitcoin — the Bitgold), the enterprise will be a tremendous success.
This was a concept suggested by Naval Ravikant on one of Tim Ferrris’ podcast.I want to take the concept further and recommend a social education.
A social education is promoting financial and technology literacy as a basic prerequisite for the common people as well as employees of the financial services industry. On the other hand, it also involves an education in finance to the folks in Silicon Valley so that ultimately humanity is at the center of the FinTech revolution.
Every individual today should have the education necessary to translate the impacts of changes in finance and technology on their everyday life. This has a very practical utility — massive retooling of the human society for a post AI world. Knowledge of technology and finance is the domain of experts today but everybody needs to develop that expertise to some level to stay competitive.
A New Dictionary
The term Bitcoin has entered the global lexicon and is part of the Oxford Living Dictionary. In the past as is the case today, the impact of an event on society can be measured by the entry of words into the English dictionary.
Just as the English language unified almost half of the world, the language of technology will surpass English and become lingua Franca for the whole world. Cultural differences, then will be a matter of people who know that language and others who don’t.
When the Model T was released by Ford, the impact of the industrial revolution was very visible and transportation was a very tangible experience.
A lot of the revolution today is in the nature of software which is intangible and hard to perceive. But, the rapidity of changes is phenomenal. Therefore, even though the changes may not be immediately visible, everyone needs to be engaged in futuristic thinking not for academic reasons but rather for survival itself.
On the Common Man
Imagine the common man talking to bots instead of call centers. Call centers took a while to get used to and so will bots. Many bots are Turing complete (mimic human interaction) but there is still a long way to go.
Financial advisors could be replaced by software robots that allocate portfolios efficiently and are available 24/7.
VR and Augmented reality can change the process of buying a home, walking into a branch or meeting a relationship manager.
Cryptocurrency could end up replacing fiat currencies and become digital gold.
A loan can be processed in minutes, can use social media profiles for completing forms and the mortgage can be disbursed on the same day.
Banking will become seamless and embedded in almost every object that will be a part of the new Internet of Things (IoT).
The impact of technology on the economy and everyday life is pervasive and everyone needs to have a basic knowledge to protect and grow their wealth.
Twenty years from now (give or take a decade because I am not an oracle), if you don’t know basic technology and to some extent basic Chinese, the earth will certainly seem like an alien planet to you.
My recommendation to parents, young readers of my blog and literally to everyone is to start spending at least 30 minutes of your time learning about technology, the language of technology and the impact of technology on society. Today, you can choose from a variety of sources -MOOC’s, Podcasts, The Internet etc.
There will no doubt be a massive overhaul of the skills required to stay competitive in the future job market. Some experts tend to suggest honing soft skills such as networking and management. Some experts suggest coding and technical proficiency.
Personally, I would say a mixture of both. Soft skills, especially an advanced EQ to interpret and make decisions on the outputs that AI generates and knowledge of basic technology to operate the highly intelligent machines.
Granted, this is only my conjecture for we may even live in a world 15 years from now that relies on Universal Basic Income paid out in Cryptocurrency by a highly intelligent AI super entity for loaning out our computing resources. In other words, we will be farmers of computing power. Sounds like going back to the past, doesn’t it?
Before we reach that far, we all need to be translators and have the ability to translate knowledge of finance and technology into their impacts on our daily lives in order to stay relevant.