future

The Gig Economy ISN'T Going to Change the Future of Work

'The Gig Economy is going to change the future of work.'

If you've been reading articles online (and offline), you will likely come across statements related to this.

You may agree, disagree, or be completely indifferent to it. Yet, it is worth thinking about.

To the above statement, I’d say ‘yes, in a way, but, mainly, no.’

The Gig Economy has been around since work became a means to support oneself and one’s family. There have always been informal work arrangements or contracts exchanged between those with desired products / services and those who desire them.

Think of the ancient scribes and, later, notaries, who were paid to put contracts and legal documents in writing.

Think of the independent travelling salesmen, who had to go from door to door or market to market to sell their wares, which may have come from different suppliers.

Think of the young, enterprising children who act as tour guides and offer to take tourists around for a small fee, to show them the sights, the sounds, and the smells of their local cultures.

Perhaps at some point, a group of scribes came together to form a ‘company’ of scribes, to take on larger, more elaborate projects and share the earnings.

Maybe it was an ambitious travelling salesman who took on a deal that needed practitioners of other trades and decided to permanently keep them together, the better to negotiate future deals of similar nature.

It may also have been a group of young unofficial tour guides deciding to team up to divide up the work, some attracting the tourists, others making deals with local businesses to bring tourists to them for a commission, and still others doing the actual tour guiding. The extra benefit to them? Each one gets a day off work per week.

Now, even with the formation of these ‘companies’, there will still be independent workers in each of these trades. They are still going from gig to gig, with no intention to be part of any one group. They may occasionally work with some of these groups for a season, or all of them, but never ‘settle’ down with any of them.

What was true then is still true today, and it will hold true in the future.

There will always be independent workers – Giggers – and some of them will come together to form ‘companies’ or join existing ones, and some in ‘companies’ will want to strike out on their own.

With technology, information flows more rapidly and easily. This makes it much easier and cheaper for Giggers to do what they do, and for them to sustain their lifestyles. As such, it’s easy to see how the number of Giggers will likely increase in the coming years.

That said, there has always been an ebb and flow of labour supply. When the number of independent workers goes past a certain threshold, competition may force them to band together and, once again, form ‘companies’. This trend will then take root again, until it hits its own threshold, when the opposite effect occurs.

Since this has always been the case, it’s hard to imagine that the future of work will really change from what it has always been, with or without technology.

That said, to those who aren’t yet on board with the Gig Economy, I can only say that it’s better to start learning how you can take advantage of this move before you are forced down the wrong end of its inevitable movement into your sector.

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Meeting Charlie Ang - Business Futurist

Last night, I learned something:

There are no facts about the future because it hasn't happened yet.

What that means is that everything you hear about the future is opinion.

We can, of course, make educated guesses and predictions. We can base them on past experiences and present observations, but they will still be nothing more than guesses.

That said, it doesn't mean that we don't need to prepare for it.

That's why I attended Charlie's event.

Charlie Ang

Charlie shared a great deal of information, backed up by statistics and articles, about what he sees the future will be.

Of note are the following points:

1) The Information Economy will make way for the Intelligence Economy, which will be slow at first but will improve exponentially.

When this happens, we can expect a greater disruption than when the Industrial Economy transitioned into the Information Economy. This is partly due to the fact that information itself is inherently passive. It cannot act on its own but only in tandem with other factors.

As with all fledgling technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is in its stage of infancy. It can do simple tasks now, but will pick up speed in the coming years until it 'suddenly' makes a breakthrough, one that will allow its ascension into the foremost technology of its time.

2) Preparing for the future requires us to IMAGINE the future

If there is one thing we can do that machines cannot, it is the ability to dream, imagine and envision.

If we don't first imagine a future that we want to live in, someone (or something) else will. And when they create it, we no longer get it a say in it.

3) For businesses, disruption can come in two forms: Supply Disruption and Demand Disruption

Supply disruption is the easier one to look out for. For example, instead of hiring an insurance agent, peer-to-peer insurance may develop and take over the market. Personal AI Assistants may also become so proficient at weighing between policies that they can recommend the most cost-effective solution.

Demand disruption, on the other hand, tends to be harder to spot, unless you are adept at joining all the dots. In the same example of insurance, self-driven cars of the future may make the roads so safe and, because they are not owned by any one individual at a time, may need little to no car owner's insurance at all. In the same vein, if disease prevention becomes so powerful that people almost never get any diseases, health insurance policies are going to see a dip as well.

There are so many factors and forces that are at work that it is very difficult to predict what will happen and even more difficult to see what will happen because of what happens.

For now, it is becoming ever more important for businesses to explore new avenues even as they are exploiting the markets of today.

Thank you, Charlie, for sharing your thoughts and knowledge on the subject. It has sparked a lot of thoughts and, I imagine, many future conversations.

Four Point Zero

Looking Towards the Future of Singapore

Every year, when the haze hits Singapore, everybody starts complaining, some even hurling abuse at our Southern neighbours for being inconsiderate, ineffective, and incompetent.

Why do we complain? Likely, we focus inwards too intently.

We lose sight of the overall picture.

We lose awareness that we are part of a global community that watches our every word and action.

We forget that we are a country of influence, limited by our size and lack of resources.

We have become myopic because we have been far too comfortable for far too long.

We have cultivated an entitled mentality, entrenched in our wealth and affluence.

We have started to become thankless and ungrateful, taking our position on the world stage for granted.

This year, it so happens that Singapore is deeply focused on something else - our General Elections. Suddenly, the complaints about the haze are practically non-existent, though they are starting to get more prominent as the PSI worsens.

What this shows is that Singaporeans can be resilient, and are capable of putting up with inconveniences, even those that have affected us regularly for a long time, if we have something to work on.

It shows that Singaporeans can ignore the hardships that we face if we choose to focus on making our lives better.

It shows that Singaporeans still have the spirit of our forefathers - one that wants to build up our nation, that we and future generations of Singaporeans can lead prosperous, happy lives.

If this is our desire, should we not focus on our similarities instead of our differences?

Should we not learn to agree to disagree, putting aside our pride, all the while co-operating and working together towards a common goal?

Should we not forgive the past and look towards the future?

We are Singaporeans. Our hearts beat for our nation.

Singapore is home. And home is where the heart is.

One Altitude