Book Interview: Gigatrends - Six Forces That Are Changing the Future for Billions

March 14, 2024 – Thomas Koulopoulos, author of the new book "Gigatrends: Six Forces That Are Changing the Future for Billions," joins the show to discuss the large-scale trends facing the world over the coming decades according to his research. These "gigatrends" include demographic disruption from aging populations, the rise of ambient care and digital health through wearables and personalized medicine, the growth of digital workers and ecosystems automating tasks, mobility becoming a service via driverless vehicles, the emergence of a digital self through data ownership, and the necessity of hyper-dematerialization in a digital world. Koulopoulos explained how each trend will transform our lives individually and interact together systematically, requiring adaptation on a societal level to challenges like health care for all amid fewer workers supporting more retirees.

The six gigatrends discussed in today's interview with Thomas are:

  1. Demographic disruption
  2. Rise of ambient care
  3. Digital workers and digital ecosystems
  4. Mobility as a service
  5. The digital self
  6. Hyper-dematerialization

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Transcript:

Cris Sheridan:
So, Tom, you write in your book that a Gigatrend is a phenomenon that has the potential to shape the future of billions of people. These are not inherently good or bad, but simply change on the largest scale. The first one is demographic disruption. The second is ambient care, digital workers and digital ecosystems is the third. Then you talk about mobility as a service is the fourth, the digital self being the fifth.

Cris Sheridan:
And this featured prominently in your revealing the invisible book, which I really enjoyed. And you build upon that, and then the 6th is hyper dematerialization, and we'll discuss that as well. But the first one that you discuss is probably the one that's the most disruptive, perhaps maybe we could say it's going to put the most stress on a number of different areas. So tell us about the demographic disruption.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
The easiest way to think about demographic disruption is that we're aging as a population, globally, what used to be a population pyramid with all of the very old folks at the top and the very young folks at the bottom, this wonderful base that fueled and funded social programs and social welfare, the healthcare system, it's going away. The pyramid is becoming a dome. And eventually it's going to look like this, where the sides are almost parallel. Of course, we're not immortal, at least not yet. We'll see what happens with that and where Ray Kurzwald brings us in another 20 years.

Cris Sheridan:
Right.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
But that pyramid is going away, and that has enormous implications. I mean, think about the implications it has just in the financial industry and retirement and IRAs, we're not just living longer, but we want to work longer. And when I ask people, are you retiring? Very few out of 1000 people, 20 might raise their hand. Very few people want to retire completely.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And the reason is not because they need the money. I mean, there's certainly a financial incentive there, but also because they have value and they want to continue to provide that value and get value for it. I mean, that's as social beings and knowledge workers. That's what we like to do. So we're getting older.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Two very significant geographic anomalies there. One is China. China is at the apex of its population. By 2100, it will have the same population that it had in 1965. It's going to lose half its population, in other words, over the course of the next 80 years.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And that is a trajectory that cannot be changed through domestic policy alone. We won't get into the political ramifications of that. But I think you can quickly imagine that there's going to be a lot of turmoil in China, and they will have to do something to shore up that tremendous shortfall in population. The other anomaly is Africa, which is going to maintain a pyramid. And those are the only two significant geographic anomalies, which, by the way, is also why China is investing so heavily in Africa.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
So there are a lot of political agendas here which are not on the surface. What concerns me about that first gigatrend is that we don't talk about it much. We don't have discourse because it's difficult discourse. When you talk about getting older, you also talk about Social Security, and you bring up politically charged topics which folks want to stay away from, by and large. But look, we are not going to be able to maintain health care, education, agriculture, financial services the way they exist today with that kind of a demographic.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And as you said, that is probably the single most disruptive of the gigatrends that we talk about, certainly over the course of the rest of our lifetimes.

Cris Sheridan:
Yeah, and it's important to understand that when we're talking about demographics, some people will think when it comes to the future, you can't predict that. You can't predict things six months out or years out. But demographic trends are very long term. Secular trends. They're very clearly well established based on death rates, based on birth rates.

Cris Sheridan:
And we can see those are slow moving. So this is something that you can look at, which you do in your book over a 50 year period.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Yeah, I think the point you made is the most important one, that these are not trends that we're going to change through technology. We're not going to change them through policy initiatives. Even pandemics have relatively small effects on the long term trajectory of demographic shifts. It takes a good half century to put in place a policy that will then take another half century to have impact. So we're looking at 100 year trends here.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And you have to sort of take what you're given, take the hand that you're dealt. And part of what we're doing, and the reason that we put that front and center as the first gigatrend is that we have to play that hand, that one. We're not going to get a chance to reshuffle the deck on. We've got to play that hand. So the question now becomes, what do we do about the lack of retirees?

Thomas Koulopoulos:
What do we do about five generations working shoulder to shoulder? What do we do about the fact that 4 billion people will need more health care, will need more education, we'll need more agricultural services, sanitation? We will have to face these issues. These are not issues that we can go around. We will have to go through them.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And that's where we begin with that, to sort of set the stage that there are some things that are immutables here and we're going to have to deal with them whether we like it or not.

Cris Sheridan:
Yeah, definitely. And when it comes to China, like you said, they're anomalous in the sense of going into an inverted pyramid in the decades ahead because of their population demographic structure there. But on the flip side, I mean, there is a positive there. They're probably going to end up trying to emulate what Japan did with relying very heavily on robotics and automation, which again, is something that you do discuss as one of these giga trends that we should expect later on with the digital self and some of the other things, digital workers and digital ecosystems, they're going to push heavy into that. But let's go from the demographic disruption that you discussed into the second one, which obviously there's a clear, logical tie between these two, and that's the rise of ambient care.

Cris Sheridan:
What is that?

Thomas Koulopoulos:
So ambient care is simply care that is constant, continuous, and is woven into the fabric of our lives. We use the term ambient to reflect the fact that we think health care will be something that you don't just get when you go into the clinic, to the doctor's office, to the hospital, it'll be with you everywhere that you are. And we make a case in the book for the fact that we'll need this as we get older, as demographic changes occur, as we were just saying, we will have more complex conditions, there'll be more pharmaceuticals to treat these conditions, there'll be more diagnostic techniques. And when you take the complexity of all of that and look at today's healthcare system, the question is, well, who's going to orchestrate all of that? It's tough enough to advocate for yourself or to advocate for a family member today in today's healthcare system.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
So we look at things like digital advocates, which we get to later in the book, and ways that we can take the healthcare system without being politically motivated in the conversation, ways that we can apply technology to make healthcare more effective. As it stands today, ambient also refers to wearables, these devices that will be implanted or that will wear. I mean, I've got a smartwatch here that takes more vital signs than my doctor does when I go into his office. So that will become more a part of the way that we prevent disease and prevent illness rather than treating it always in crisis mode or when it gets to the critical stage. And the other piece of that is, as we get older, mobility becomes harder.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
So guess what? The ambient care trend is very much linked to the mobility as a service gigatrend, and the fact that when I am 80, I certainly hope by then I'll have a driverless car that will come and pick me up in my autonomous wheelchair and take me to the doctor's office if I need to go, if I don't have the in home care that I need. So a lot of these gigatrends are very much tied together. They're integrated, and that's why we chose those in the book. We wanted to pick trends that did have an impact on each other, to create sort of a clear picture of how all of them would ultimately shape our lives and our future.

Cris Sheridan:
Yeah, I really enjoyed this part of your book because it relates directly to something that my wife and I are doing well, specifically my wife, because she's a physical therapist. She works for a traditional healthcare facility, a hospital very large here in California. And she's become somewhat disillusioned with the emphasis on perhaps just getting people through very quickly with the lack of patient care and focus on the patient themselves. So what she's doing is she's now meeting people in home. So she's opened up her own side business, and she goes and she actually meets with people and spends the required amount of time to get them the help they need.

Cris Sheridan:
And you discuss that when it comes to the rise of ambient care in terms of hospitals are going to have to decentralize in order to reach the masses. It's just the classical model no longer really fits the needs of today, and.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
It will fit the needs of tomorrow even less so. And that's the point that we're making is, again, we're on a trajectory here. We're not going to change the trajectory in terms of the complexity of medicine. And frankly, we want it to be more complex because we want to live longer, but we want to live healthier. That's going to take more health care, it's going to take more pharmaceuticals, more therapies, it's going to take genomics.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And all these are going to add to the complexity of healthcare. So we want that complexity as much as we complain about it. The question is how do we sustain it and how do we do things that ultimately serve me as the patient? So we talk about the ownership of data and how important it is to own your healthcare record. Today, I don't really own it, I have legal rights to it.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
But if you ask me for my healthcare record, I have to call three or four different providers, at minimum, to stitch something together for you and hand it over to you. So things like that will have to change. Ownership of data, especially when it comes to health care, will be critical to having continuity of care.

Cris Sheridan:
Yeah, I know that comes up. That's the fifth gigatrend that you discussed, but let's talk about related to the rise of ambient care. You discussed digital health advocates, but that's also part of this digital workers and digital ecosystem gigatrend, which is the third one. So tell us about how that works.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
So I'll use an example that I know you've probably heard talked about and you'll be familiar with in financial services. One of the areas where I see enormous opportunity for assistance from technology is using digital workers to do highly administrative tasks, frontline tasks that often don't require a lot of brain power. But today we put people on those tasks and it could be something similar. It could be a mortgage underwriting process. There's so much administration that goes on paper, pushing, if you will, and we could use digital workers to do those kinds of things.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
What's really important in this conversation is the following, however. Digital workers are not a replacement for human workers. They elevate the value of the human worker. And whenever I talk to anyone, whether it be financial services, healthcare, it doesn't manufacturing, it doesn't matter where you are. We talk about digital workers.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
We're talking about giving the knowledge worker a tool by which they can do more of what they do really well. And this is where we always get the employment forecast wrong, the long term employment forecast wrong in the 18 hundreds, I think 90 plus percent of the global economy was in agriculture. Today it's in the single digits in the US. We have less than 2% of our workforce in agriculture, yet we're feeding eight times as many, 8 billion versus 1 billion people in 1800. And yet we're doing it with so far fewer people.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
I don't see the streets lined with farmers and farm workers. The reality is that we need more people in farming because we're creating greater value. We have greater, not just demand, but we're creating more value. So as we create more value, we create more jobs. And what digital workers do is they allow us to create more value, to do what humans do well, to be innovative, to create new products, new services, new ways of living that we wouldn't have conceived of.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Back when I was using my fold out map in my 1967 Chevy Bel air to find my way around, I never could have conceived of what ways would do and how indispensable waze would be. To me, that's the creation of new value. I gladly pay for it. I exchange value because I get value back. So we always underestimate the degree to which we can create new value, and that's what digital workers do.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
They allow us to create new value, to do what humans are better at. They sort of up our game. Now, if you're a mediocre human, yeah, you're going to be in trouble. I mean, if you don't want to up your game, if you don't want to create more value, yes, you will be in trouble. That's kind of the way that things work, unfortunately.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
I do believe that we have to be careful as a society, and this does bring up the issue of universal basic income and things of that sort, because we've never seen it happen this fast. The agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution happened over hundreds of years, certainly decades. This is going to happen over years, not even decades. So we will see disruption on a scale and at a speed that we have not in the past. And that means we've got to double down in terms of how we retrain, how we educate people, everything from our doctors to our lawyers to blue collar workers, because it is going to take a toll on us in terms of the speed with which it displaces jobs.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
So I think that's part of the social conversation that we have to have around AI and how quickly it's going to affect us.

Cris Sheridan:
Yeah, it's amazing, the uptake, how quickly technology is now being adopted. I think that GPT reached a new threshold, passing 100 million users, I believe it was, or a million users within the shortest period of time we've ever seen. So it just goes to show that this technology, not only is it increasing in its own scale with the number of parameters that it's operating on exponentially, but also in terms of how quickly it's now distributed to society and obviously all the business applications that come from that. And like you say, allowing for a massive amount of collaboration of these digital ecosystems, the development of these digital workers, which we should expect. This is just the way things are going to proceed.

Cris Sheridan:
And one thing that I really do like about your book, again, is you go through how we should think these technology changes are going to evolve for each decade, and you go out 50 years. What would be sort of a futuristic scenario that you would paint when we think of either digital health advocates or digital workers working in a digital ecosystem? Because you do discuss this in your book. So if you would mind, kind of paint for us a picture of what you think we could see.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
So as a backdrop to the picture, two very interesting facts over the course of the last 60 years, the number of user computing devices, computers that we have, and I call them devices, because this is a user computing device. It's a fully blown computer, which has a lot more power than thousands of times more power, obviously, than the most rudimentary computers that took us to the moon did. If we look at the last 60 years, the number of those devices has increased by one order of magnitude every decade. The capability of chat, GPT, or any GPT technology based on the number of, if you will, neural connections that it can create, is increasing by one order of magnitude, actually more. But let's keep it simple, one order of magnitude yearly.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
So if computers did in the last 60 years, what they've done to our world by increasing on a decade by decade basis one order of magnitude, what will AI do when it is increasing its capability one order of magnitude each year? So that's the backdrop for all this change. That's very important to keep that in mind, because this notion of acceleration is lost in a lot of people. We think we're going to continue moving at the current pace. We are not.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
The pace is going to increase extraordinarily rapidly. So what will that mean 50 years from now? I have no doubt that I won't have to pick up the phone and call my doctor. My digital advocate will be talking to my medical records, which I will own completely at that point in time, to the clinicians, digital assistants, and will be identifying if there are any risk factors, based on my behavioral patterns, based on my current diet, based on my lifestyle, based on certain biomarkers, based on ingestibles that I will be taking daily, that will report back to it certain functions of my liver, my kidneys, my heart, what have you that all this will be done in the background. This is ambient care in its true sense, and that when something begins to go in the wrong direction, that corrective measures will be taken, and then there'll be an actual process by which it'll verify whether I'm adhering to those corrective measures.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Now, I'm not saying that we'll be enslaved by it, no more than I am by ways, but I'll begin to trust it the same way I trust ways. When I first began using Waze, I'm sure this happened to you and probably a lot of folks. I didn't trust it. So it would say, go left. I'd say, you know what?

Thomas Koulopoulos:
I know this road. I'm going to go right. And sure enough, I'd be stuck in traffic, I'd be stuck in construction. I'd be cursing myself. I'm at the point now where I will follow ways through the gates of hell.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Whatever way it tells me to go, I'm going to go in that direction. It has completely earned my trust. Now you're saying, well, should you give up? I'm giving up my trust because it's what humans do over time. We build relationships.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
We'll build relationships with these technologies, and we'll begin to realize that they're adding value to us. But the important thing is I will own it. That data that today is being shared with so many providers, I don't know where it ends up. It will be my data. I will have this notion of sovereignty which we talk about in the book, the self sovereign self.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
I'll have ownership over that data. It'll be locked up. It can't be used by anyone else unless I authorize that usage or my digital advocate or digital assistant authorizes that usage. So that's what I see. And ultimately, Chris, what that will do for me is it will free me up to create value in whatever way my creative mind wants to create value, what that value will look like.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
I haven't lived in the future yet, so I don't know. I leave that to the science fiction writers. But I know it will give me the ability to do things that create more joy, give me more satisfaction, give me a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment in ways that today I think are often occupied by feelings of frustration and stress and coordination and being my own technological wizard to try to keep all the wheels on the bus. I think all that will go away very rapidly, and we'll look back and we'll say, how did our parents and grandparents ever live without this? It would be similar to saying how they live without Novocaine.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Once upon a time, the barber was pulling my teeth out. I can't imagine that sort of without anesthesia, without Novocaine. It'll feel that painful to them. Our existence today will feel that painful to them.

Cris Sheridan:
I feel that way going through all the emails and spam every day.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
There's a sink, and no one has conquered even that mountain yet. Right? What about digital assistant that can do all that for you?

Cris Sheridan:
Right? And that's what you discussed, too. You even kind of give this roadmap of where we could imagine that a lot of the digital work that's being done is being done by these autonomous agents. Right? In using blockchain to verify a lot of the transactions, the contracts, some have even discussed.

Cris Sheridan:
We're going to talk with an author about this next week. But dows, the decentralized autonomous organizations developing, having their own legal entity contracts and able to hire and fire at will, this is the future that we're headed into. And you discussed that with your digital ecosystems, Gigatrend.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Yeah. Well, even so, to use a very specific example there of what will the future look like. Autonomous vehicles will own themselves. They will be these distributed autonomous entities that have legal rights. And people say that sounds absurd.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Well, you know what? A few hundred years ago, the corporation having legal rights and a personhood sounded very absurd as well. But it's a very typical construct. This notion of ownership and having rights to ownership is a very critical one. Hernando de Soto, the famous peruvian economist, has written extensively on this, that the foundation of any true democratic system that uses capital as a form of security has to be predicated on ownership.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
I own my house. You can't just take it away from me. There are circumstances under which I can be compensated for it. Because you want to put a through way here. I mean, that might happen, but I have ownership, therefore I will receive compensation for that.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
You can't just bulldoze my house and say, sorry, tough luck, go build another one. You can't do that to my 401K. You can't do that to my trust fund, whatever. These are things that I own. They're mine.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
They're immutables. And with AI, I think we'll see that same sort of immutability of ownership play a very, very critical role. And the notion of cars owning themselves, retiring when they're done selling themselves off for parts, absolutely possible. It is not this dystopian future where Teslas suddenly start driving off of cliffs and drive us into the ocean. I think these are flights of fancy.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
We're not anywhere near that sort of agi that can have that degree of authority unless we give it that degree of authority purposefully. But they will have the ability to do things that today a person would have to make the same sort of decisions about, or you'd need people to be able to make those kinds of decisions. So that'll be a fascinating future. And frankly, it'll free us up from doing all that administrative grunt work that, frankly, none of us enjoy doing. We want to use our minds creatively.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
We want to use them in ways that create value and discover new things. And I don't think that's just me. I think that's a shared human ambition.

Cris Sheridan:
Yeah, definitely. We're doing that at our company. I'm doing that currently. When it comes to article writing, when it comes to transcripts, when it comes to all this different content generation, AI has really become part of the whole workflow that is now part of what I do here with the podcast and with articles. So it's just amazing.

Cris Sheridan:
Editing has become a lot easier. I love it. I love it. It's great. I don't have to sit there and try to go through an article with a fine tooth comb looking for every spelling or grammatical mistake.

Cris Sheridan:
AI can really do the lion share of that work for me. So again, it frees up much more time. I'm just waiting to the point where they figure out email. That for me will be a big.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Also, it ups your game. I mean, I think it puts the pressure on us as humans to do better. That's the bottom line. There was a time, Chris, when we would have been judged based purely on our muscle, our ability to handle a loom, or to swing a shovel or a pickaxe, or what have you. When we lost that capability, we would then have an existential crisis and ask, well, what are we good for?

Thomas Koulopoulos:
We can't do that any longer. I mean, we're useless now to the society. But we realized that, you know what, there are other things human beings can do that are actually much more pleasant, that create value. It still challenges us to do these things. I think you probably feel more challenged now that you have AI to do the more creative things, but it's also more enjoyable.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
We like challenge when we're getting reward for it. Swinging a pickaxe has its own rewards, I guess. But at the end of the day, it's not what human beings were meant to do. So we are upping our game as humans, and we're going to have to step up to the plate. There's no way around that.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And do better.

Cris Sheridan:
Yeah. The focus is less on output, like you say, but more on outcomes, right?

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Yeah, exactly. We've grown up in a world where outputs, even in healthcare, so much of compensation is based on fee for service. It's all based on output, not outcomes. And at the end of the day, what is healthcare's purpose? To give us improved outcomes?

Thomas Koulopoulos:
To make me healthier? Yeah, that's absolutely one of the core principles that we talk about in the book, the shift from output to outcome based economics.

Cris Sheridan:
So we did touch upon mobility as a service briefly there. That's the fourth gigatrend that you discuss. And one of the things that really struck me as I was reading that section is just thinking about cars as robots, with these kind of autonomous robots, like you said, that would have the ability to engage in whether or not it's ride sharing services that they would be doing, that it would be done through software autonomously, not necessarily with a person managing all of that. And then, like, saving, selling themselves for parts, getting new parts, they could do all that. That's the future we could see.

Cris Sheridan:
But I want to skip past that fourth trend and move to, I think, one that's really important here because we're getting close on time. But you talk about the digital self. You've touched upon that multiple times now. This is obviously a huge part of your book, and again, was something that you talked about as well in your revealing the invisible book, which is a must read. Can you tell us some of the key aspects of this as we move forward over the next five decades?

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Imagine that over the course of these next five decades, we will all increasingly have more and more data that reflects who we are and what we do, what our preferences are, what our behaviors are. And when I began to talk about revealing the invisible was how these behaviors had enormous value, not just to Apple and to Google and to Amazon and to Facebook and pick your favorite platform that knows more about you than you probably know about yourself, but how they have enormous value to us and to our well being and to our finances and all the things that today are important to us. So the question is, how do I gain ownership over that? And in the book, what we present is this notion of a digital self, which ultimately will be all these things that represent you digitally. And more and more of what we are is represented digitally.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And you'll be able to use those behaviors with a myriad of applications, but the data will be yours. It will not belong to the applications or to the platform providers. And that data will become fine tuned to the point where it knows you so well that I can easily imagine that you will bequeath it in your will to your heirs. You'll say, my digital financial self, which made my fortune, is now the property of my son, or my daughter, or both, or whatever, or my trust. I absolutely see that digital self having that kind of value.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And the digital self is nothing more than a representation of the shift that we are all experiencing from the physical world to the digital world, which is that last gigatrend hyper dematerialization. More and more of what has value, inherent value, is digital. And this is the trouble people have with things like cryptocurrency and bitcoin or ether, is that I don't get it. Where's the value? The value, ultimately, in any fiat currency, even in gold for that matter, is not just a scarcity.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
It is our agreement on the fact that it has value. Diamonds are a wonderful example. We agree that they have value. I think De Beers has caused us to believe that diamonds have more value than they do the typical diamond. There are some rarities, enormous diamonds, the hope diamond or whatever, that truly are rare in the overall scheme of things.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
But as long as we agree and that agreement gets to the point where it has critical mass, then it has value. And our digital self will have enormous capacity for storing this value and passing it forward. Continuity of value is critical to anything that truly has worth. Whether it's a painting hanging in the Louvre, or whether it be a bar of gold, or whether it be a coin or a stamp. It has continuity that pass it forward.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
It maintains that value. Today we're stumbling through this. I think it's clear that we're just getting our feet wet. We're five minutes into a 24 hours poker game when it comes to understanding digital currency, much less our digital Persona. But I do see that as being the single most valuable asset that you could possibly have.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Remember, there was an old, like a power game that we would play if your house was burning down. What would you grab and take with you? People used to say the photograph albums. Now they're all in the cloud. My kids, bronze shoes.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Maybe. I think about that question. I think increasingly not much. Maybe there's a couple of things that have some sentimental value, but so much of me is already in the cloud. Who I was, what I said, what I thought.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
It's out there. I mentioned to you before we started this, that the Gigatrends book was uploaded into ask your PDF, which is an AI that will digest large quantities of data and allow you to ask questions of it. Today, running the answers to those questions through an eleven labs, which is an AI trained voice, trained on my voice. It can speak back the book in my voice, so I can have a conversation with myself about my book. Remember that Superman movie where Superman was having a conversation with his father and all of his father's knowledge was in that crystal?

Thomas Koulopoulos:
We've kind of reached that point. I mean, my digital self already exists. When I run out of this house, I'm in the cloud. I'm not sentient in the cloud, not just yet, but so much of me is in the cloud. I think it's a wonderful way to think about that notion of hyper dematerialization and how more and more of what has value to us isn't in the physical objects, but in the digital footprints that we leave behind.

Cris Sheridan:
One of our other guests that we just spoke with is also doing the same thing, taking all of their writings, because they have, like you, thousands of articles and books that they've written and have uploaded that all into an AI and trained this AI off their writings, and now have the ability for anyone, including this person in particular as Ben Hunt, to be able to interact with the digital version of themselves based on the AI that's been trained. And that's something that's going to become like you write about in your book and you wrote about in revealing the invisible, this digital twin. That's something that we are going to see. And I really like the part where you talk about how the data brokers, all these large, big tech, multi trillion companies that have been able to harvest this data and use it, we become the product, right? And then they sell this data instead.

Cris Sheridan:
In this world that we're moving into, where we have ownership of this data, we now can derive income from it. And so that's a great thing. And especially if your digital self is doing some of that work that's been trained on you, that's great.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And doing it much faster than I ever could. I had a co author, my co author, for real and invisible, was actually a physicist by training. And we would talk about how the digital self was sort of the embodiment of Einstein's relativity, because it could work at a speed, at light speed, which I couldn't, and do things so quickly. So for me, what is one year to my digital self could be a thousand years, because it could do that much more work. So, yeah, while we're sitting back, our digital self is monetizing those behaviors which we allow it to monetize, not with abandon, but within the parameters that we've given it.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
It can monetize who we are.

Cris Sheridan:
Yeah, well, you talked about hyper dematerialization, and this is very important because it's really a necessity. And you talk about. I mean, obviously we have seen dematerialization with the smartphone, all of the different products and services that are now consolidated in this very small device. That is an example of dematerialization on steroids. We're going to see that moving forward.

Cris Sheridan:
So tell us about, as we close on the six gigatrend that you discussed in your book, why hyper dematerialization is so important.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
I think it's important for the very simple reason that one of the ambitions I think we all have is to somehow create collections of those things that are valuable to us, whether they be ideas or thoughts or writings or what have you. I think it's human nature to collect and categorize these things that have value to us. Hyperdematuralization makes that so incredibly easy to do and then to share that value. I've often said that I think the one word that has driven humanity more than anything else over our entire existence is this notion of connections. We connect as human beings.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
When we connect our ideas, our values, all the things that drive us and motivate us with hyper dematerialization, when all that becomes digital, it is the speed with which we'll be able to do that, to make those connections, to share that information, and through it, to discover new sources of value, new solutions to mankind's problems, I think, will be difficult for us to fathom in the present day. And going back to the very simple point we started with, going from economies of scale to economies of scope, what we're talking about is building these immense economies of scope where I, as an individual, can realize the value of who I am, of what I think, of how I think in ways that were never possible because the gatekeeper simply wouldn't allow it. And whether we apply that to the notion of bitcoin, or whether we apply it to the notion of an article that you wrote, or whatever the case might be, having ownership over this and then being able to connect it with this vast ecosystem of other ideas, I think, ultimately could only be done through this process of hyper dematerialization, through the digitalization of everything that we know and everything that we are. It sounds a bit spooky, but you know what? At the end of the day, it's very, very simple.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
I wrote a book. Every time someone quotes from it, I'd like to get half a penny. It would be a nice thing. I mean, think about it that way. Whatever you have of value can be translated into infinite value streams, but you've got to create the value that doesn't change.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And hyper demetrialization, I think, just increases. As I said earlier, the challenge that we each have to create new sources of value and then to find ways to benefit from those, not just as individuals, but as a society as well.

Cris Sheridan:
Dematerialization is important in terms of just reducing the vast amount of waste that we continually produce every day you hit.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
The nail square on the head. We talk in the book over and over again, and I can't emphasize it enough that there are 4 billion people that we haven't brought into the economic mainstream. They're not part of the industrialized world. They have no identity, they can't get a credit card, they can't open up a bank account. They're constantly taking advantage of.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
They are the disenfranchised, and it's half the population of the world and they live on less than $7 a day. Difficult for us to fathom. As you and I talk here, and as the folks who listen to this, listen to what we're saying, we can't bring those folks on board in the same way that we brought the first 4 billion on board. We will destroy the planet. So we have to do it differently.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
We know what the parameters are. We try to spell them out very clearly in the book, and we know what the objective is. At the end of the day, the objective is to give dignity and meaning and value to every human life. I mean, who would argue that that's not a right or left or center aisle conversation? It's one I think we all subscribe to.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
And our point in the book is we've got to do it different. We can't do it the same way we did it for the last 200 years. And AI is going to be a huge assist in that effort.

Cris Sheridan:
Yeah, certainly. Well, again, the title of the book is Gigatrend six forces that are changing the future for billions. And as we pointed out in the very beginning, these gigatrends six that are outlined in Tom's book, they're not good or bad, they just are large scale change affecting billions of people across the world, from demographic disruption all the way down to, as we discussed just last dematerialization, and why that is so important. So you dive into each of these areas extensively and show how they're likely to change over each decade, looking 50 years out, providing some very interesting future scenarios that we could see. I really appreciate you coming on and sharing with us.

Cris Sheridan:
And I want to note the book was just released, I believe it was late last month, but I see that it's got a 4.9 out of five live on Amazon. So that's pretty good.

Thomas Koulopoulos:
I want to know what happened to that point. One, I'm going to have to look into that.

Cris Sheridan:
Right?

Thomas Koulopoulos:
Always a pleasure being with you, Chris. You do great work. Thank you very much for having.

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