I’ve got good news for you if you’re the one that gets stuck doing the weekly shopping.
Coles is likely to make it a whole lot more interesting. It’s a good hint where the world is going, too.
The Australian Financial Review reports that the supermarket supremo has signed a major alliance with Microsoft to use artificial intelligence to help cut $1 billion in costs over four years.
What does this shopping experience look like?
Probably not that much different to your current one, except that inventory management will be way better and you’ll have much more personalised offers (and hopefully lower prices).
However, it’s a great example of how AI can help companies save money and improve. That’s a good thing!
The general vibe in the world today is that AI is coming to steal everyone’s job and leave a gaping hole where the middle class used to be.
I don’t go along with that line of thought.
AI will allow greater efficiency, which can lead to further investment, innovation and even completely new industries. Not to mention better service at your local supermarket!
This is going to feed into higher economic growth over time. What do these AI uber bears prefer? Grinding along in the status quo?
If you’re inclined to think this way yourself, you might want to pick up George Gilder’s new book, Life After Google.
I must admit I’d never heard of George Gilder before I read it. But he brings a prestigious reputation as a futurist who’s made a bunch of prescient calls before.
For example, he called for the arrival of the smartphone before Apple was even working on the first design of the iPhone.
Life After Google is not the easiest book I’ve ever read.
But you can’t mistake one thing George Gilder believes above all else: AI cannot replace the human brain as the source of economic growth or wealth creation.
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The AI apocalypse is an easy dystopia to believe in.
Here’s the reality: People keep promoting it despite the fact that it continually bumps up against the reality of historic low unemployment around the world.
But Gilder’s book is much more than a defence against the uber AI bears. He believes that the US tech ‘leviathans’ like Google have passed their peak.
This is not a forecast for their stock price. It’s an assessment of their fundamental position in the marketplace.
Goodbye to big data, hello crypto
What’s coming to replace the stock based on big data? In Gilder’s view, it’s the ‘cryptocosm’. That’s his word for the burgeoning blockchain economy beginning to flourish the world over.
This insight is interesting in light of a discussion in today’s AFR. The Chanticleer column makes the case that the glory years of investment banking in Australia are over.
One reason for this is the extent to which regulation and legalities have stymied the traditional approach.
Regulation, compliance and legal teams are all necessary. But in the end, they run the risk of stifling the market they are designed to serve.
This is the world the ‘cryptocosm’ is coming to eat. Consider that companies can now raise money by bypassing the traditional capital markets completely.
And companies can do it from anywhere in the world, pitching to investors all over the world.
An interesting angle to this is how it could potentially devalue traditional havens for capital like Switzerland, the UK, America and even Australia now.
What do I mean by this? Countries with strong property right laws attract capital seeking shelter and security as a primary motivation.
If you put your money in a Swiss bank, you can be confident the government is not going to fleece you. Nobody rushes to stick their money in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the same reason.
This advantage is now being exported to the blockchain. Bitcoin is a perfect example. People the world over are happy to store their wealth in it. It’s borderless.
The very appeal of this is why regulators will try to cajole and control the cryptocosm. The powers that be don’t want to let their serfs get a leg out of the unjust tax prison we’re all stuck in.
The battle of the next decade is the market trying to shake off the chains of government and state-sanctioned monopolies like banks to free up innovation and investment again.
We can only guess what this future looks like in detail. Here’s one thing we do know: Shopping won’t be the same, and neither will investing.