The Day After Tomorrow

No matter where you turn these days the topics of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Climate Change (CC) pop up most everywhere. We may all have an opinion as to how these issues may or may not impact our lives, but the impact on the economy and potentially your financial planning strategy may be significant and that none of us should ignore.

Let’s begin with AI as there is no debate it exists and fast becoming part of our lives. Like any major component of change there are different schools of thought, generally for and against, that shed light on the pros and cons of AI.

For example:

Pros:

  1. Marketing- That is something that we experience as we surf the internet and participate in social media. AI   enables companies to follow search patterns and target audience based on interests. The potential for moving product or service exponentially increases.
  2. Businesses can measure productivity metrics and identify problems and solutions much faster.
  3. Customer service communication has advanced to the point that while using live chat it is almost impossible to tell whether you’re chatting with a human or machine.
  4. Controlling some home and office functions from across the globe.
  5. Medical advances enable health care professionals and institutions to diagnose and treat disease and injury remotely thus increasing the probability of saving lives.
  6. Brain function peak performance duration may increase dramatically using electrical impulses (I prefer coffee to be honest).
  7. Space exploration, self-driving vehicles, planes, banking, the list is endless and will likely get longer with time.

Cons:

  1. Many labor skills may become redundant and human labor replaced.
  2. Human/personal interaction may decrease (Already a challenge).
  3. Escalation in cybersecurity challenges.
  4. Further decrease in birth rates?

We can keep on going, but we get the picture. AI will likely increase the rate of progress with each passing decade. Whether any of us agree with it, it is becoming the new normal whether we choose to embrace it or not.

Here is what some of the world’s business leaders have to say, according to Inc. Magazine*:

Jeff Bezos- “Every Organization can improve…
Elon Musk- “AI is a threat to human exeistence…
Mark Zuckerberg- “AI can improve our quality of life…
Bill Gates- “No need to panic, but there is reason to worry…”
Mark Cuban- “AI will create the first Trillionaire…

 

How about the impact of Climate Change? That is a more divided debate because unlike AI, not everyone believes climate change is an issue. The purpose of this article is not to advocate for or against it. It is to relay the sentiments expressed publicly as to the economic impact that may result if it is indeed a threat.

Let’s look at some of what is being said:

**According to a Forbes article in July of 2017 Global Warming…
Affects Geography within which the global economy operates. It changes growth zones (farming and agriculture), shorelines (Infrastructure and migration), Energy (use of fossil fuels, solar and renewable energy), and technology (impacts of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere).

***In August 2018 the World Economic Forum (WEF) in collaboration with Business Insider presented research conducted by the Federal Reserve of Richmond stating among other findings that:
-Rising temperatures may curtail the pace of US economic growth by as much as 33% by 2100.
-Business leaders and experts surveyed by WEF said that extreme weather, migration caused by climate change, and natural disasters are the three risks they’re most likely to face in 2019 (CNN Business 1/17/2019).

Regardless of where you stand on AI and CC both topics will continue to attract attention and resources. The demand for skills in both white- and blue-collar markets will likely change to accommodate for the integration of AI into the work place. Future generations will grow up in a world where human interaction may become less frequent and/or necessary. It may seem sad for us, but normal for them. Digital transactions be it banking, or shopping will become the norm. You may even be able to try on cloths and feel fresh produce in 3D right from your closet or kitchen. TV commercials may feature avatars and robots. How about TV anchor men and women?  Will agriculture be done in greenhouses only because climate will not allow for the proper time cycle for crops to mature?  Will the polar caps melt raising sea levels and wiping out seashore communities and financial infrastructures?  How will that impact the farming, insurance, building, and energy industries?  Who will pay for all that?  Will we have to pay more for food because of the potential rise in production cost?  Will our insurance premiums go up?  Will real estate values escalate due to diminishing geography?  Will our taxes increase on every level as federal, state, and local governments scramble to accommodate for these changes?  How about supporting third world countries with already weak infrastructure?

Well, if it wasn’t part of your financial plan review, whether you DIY or have a financial advisor, it may be wise to incorporate the discussion. What exposure or lack thereof does your portfolio have to investments that focus on AI or CC?  How will CC, if you believe it a factor, change where you may retire?  What is the cost of living and healthcare should you be considering a move?   These are but a few of the questions you may want to ask, but the important thing is to begin the conversation with your family and advisors.

In conclusion, as you can imagine, we don’t have all the answers and maybe never will. All we can do is recognize, regardless of our point of view, that these topics will likely remain in the forefront. Future changes to the global economy and our way of life will likely be governed to a large extent by new developments in AI and CC.

Staying current on these issues is paramount in planning ahead. And, as the adage goes, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”

Sources:
*Inc. Magazine August 2018.
**Forbes Magazine online 07/13/2017.
***World Economic Forum & Business Insider, August 2018.

Joseph Yagar is a Registered Representative and Investment Adviser Representative of and offers securities and investment advisory services solely through Equity services, Inc. 675 3rd Avenue, 9th Floor, New York NY 10017, (212) 986 0400. Member FINRA/SIPC. Broker/Dealer and Registered Investment Advisor affiliate of National Life Insurance Company, Montpelier VT. Legatus Group, LLC is independent of Equity Services, Inc. TC107046(0319)1