You’re sitting in one room, but your mind is in another. Maybe you’re in the Bahamas with an Instagram model, some beauty whose entire career relies on enticing envy in others.
Or you might be teleporting into the minds of hot-headed strangers by reading the comments on a particularly controversial post.
Or perhaps, you’re escaping the frigidly cold Melbourne weather by reading this article.
Screens are portals to other worlds — worlds that are infinitely more engaging and glamorous than the stained tram seat or drab office cube that you’re currently occupying. They’re always there, beckoning us to look. And we do, constantly and obsessively.
We’re all racing through the technological age — busying ourselves with buying, scrolling and updating. Our heads are down while we scurry through the concrete maze, avoiding eye contact to our own detriment.
As a testament to our distraction, according to a study by the US Global Health Security Agenda, 5,984 pedestrians were killed in the US while texting and walking in 2017 alone. It also caused over 11,100 injuries during the same timeframe.
More pressing however, is the fact that all this screen time is making us sick.
According to a new study by the American Psychiatric Association, over one-third of American adults view social media as harmful to their mental health, with only 5% saying it had a positive impact.
The overriding consensus was that persistent social media use contributed to feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression and low self-esteem.
This screen-sickness is now a pervasive phenomenon which all of us are dealing with. When it comes to how we interact and consume, technology and automation are forcing us to adapt in ways we never envisioned.
This is particularly true when it comes to industries which once relied heavily on human touch and interpersonal relations. Industries such as retail and hospitality.
As with each new advancement, slowly but surely we’re falling deeper down the rabbit hole of a fully automated, tech-dominated world. And the jobs which we thought could never be taken away by a machine, are disappearing before our eyes.
No need for small talk
Giving us a glimpse into the future of retail, Amazon is just about to open its fourth high-tech convenience store, ‘Amazon Go’, in San Francisco, and its twelfth in New York.
If you aren’t familiar, the basic idea is that it’s a 7/11-esque convenience store where you can ‘just walk out’. Instead of having to interact with a shop clerk or even a self-serve machine, customers can just grab what they want and leave. The store will monitor them with cameras and charge them through the Amazon Go app.
As the first trial store only opened in September last year, the rapidly expanding franchise is testament to the success of this new retail model. The overwhelmingly positive feedback Amazon has received indicates that consumers like the streamlined, non-human experience…and they want more of it.
Of course, this is only one example of the ways automation is changing our workforce. There are numerous other industries (particularly in manufacturing and customer service) where technology has snatched the jobs of human employees. And when you consider the benefits, it’s really no surprise.
According to a study by McKinsey and Company (quoted by Forbes), automation will:
‘…eliminate less than five percent of total occupations. But automation will be able to accomplish about one-third of current activities in roughly 60% of all occupations.’
The jobs automation will affect belong predominantly to the middle class, which could have a significant effect on the economy as workers become redundant.
The McKinsey study also estimated that 15% of the global workforce (400 million workers) could be displaced by automation in the period from 2016–2030.
The prospect that you may be replaced by a machine is a scary one. A machine never gets sick, rarely makes a mistake, and never needs to be paid.
However, there is still hope.
I for one am confident that there will always be a need for warm-blooded human connection and hospitality. Something that machines can attempt to replicate, but will never fully replace.
If anything, the human race is vastly better off with the help of machines. We’re smarter, more efficient, and connected in ways that would have seemed impossible 100 years ago. And although there is the possibility that one day your job may become redundant, many new opportunities are likely to spring up in its place.
Overall, there’s no need to fear automation. Change is coming, but there are ways to prepare — whether your job is in jeopardy or not.
For starters, you can protect your wealth by investing in the companies which will be the largest innovators and facilitators in the AI space.
Perhaps the most crucial tech stocks in this space will be 5G.
No modern technology can run smoothly without a powerful network to back it up. And the companies working to create the infrastructure for this are set to benefit.
That’s why Money Morning’s own Harje Ronngard has found two ASX-listed stocks that will be instrumental in the coming 5G revolution.
Harje believes both stocks could balloon a small stake four times over in the next 12–18 months. To read his latest research report and potentially make 2019 your best investing year yet, click here.
This week in Money Morning
Last week, we found out why ScoMo defeated the Bill Australia couldn’t afford. Voters went with the Liberals for economic reasons. In a JWS Research survey of 1,000 voters, 39% of them said economic issues were a key factor for their vote. And as Harje wrote on Monday, the RBA is very happy with this result.
To learn more, click here.
In the last decade, the rich have gotten richer, while the poor have barely seen their wealth increase. In some cases, like for the poorest Australians, net wealth has actually declined. So how does this happen? How, in the lucky country, do the poor get poorer while the rich get richer?
Harje answers these questions and more in Tuesday’s Money Morning.
Have you heard of El Petro? It was Venezuela’s solution to restore the faith. The oil-backed crypto was going to be their trustworthy currency. It’s something Venezuela sorely needs, even today. And as Harje explained on Wednesday, even though it was a flop overall, the idea behind it could revolutionise Venezuela — and the world — in the coming years.
To read the full story, click here.
For billionaire Tim Roberts, making money is somewhat pointless. He doesn’t really need it. The man is worth $2.38 billion and sits in 73rd place on the Financial Review’s Rich List. But who doesn’t love the problem-solving detective work of finding new opportunities and then watching them work out? And as Harje wrote on Thursday, one of his biggest opportunities came from investing.
To learn his secret, click here.
Infiniti, like most other car brands, is pursuing their electric vehicle (EV) and autonomous driving dreams. But as Harje questioned on Friday, what good will that do if China locks up future technologies by hoarding their rare earths?
To find out, click here.
Until next week,
Editor, Money Weekend