Can we plan for an age in which people live to 100?

Lynda Gratton & Andrew Scott’s The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity (Japanese title: LIFE SHIFT). An instruction manual, written by professors of the London Business School, on how to weather an age in which the average life expectancy is 100. Because things like asset management, financial planning, and family planning are weak points of mine, I read this with a focus on relevance to IT, IoT, and AI.

It is said that from now on, labor in cooperative ecosystems between smaller businesses, the sharing economy, the blending of work and leisure, the concentration of cities, and the increasing demand for smart cities will continue.

These are all brought about by computerization and automation. There isn’t likely to be a special link between these things and the extension of life expectancy to 100 through advances in medical technology. They just happen to coincide.

But because they coincide, the use of time will become a problem. In the 1930s, Keynes pointed out that, as economies became wealthier, free time would increase, and the use of this time would become an issue for humanity. After that, although free time did increase, people still felt pressed for time. The tendency is for people to work longer the higher their salary is.

I agree with two points in this book. First, the argument that the internet of things and AI will create new forms of employment, so we should welcome the shift of manufacturing to robots. I think so too.

Still, the book suggested that people do work that has an advantage. I think that the work people have an advantage at is killing time. Robots aren’t likely to be good at killing time. “If I’m not busy, switch me off!” they might say. What Keynes thought would be a problem is actually an advantage.

The real problem of this age will be the concentration and inequality of wealth. I think the problem won’t be production so much as it will be distribution. Basic Income may become an important theme.

The other point I agree with is that social links and knowledge will become economically more important than tangible assets. This too is the effect of information technology and social media rather than a consequence of the era of 100-year lifespans. In particular, I think that what one can obtain socially, i.e. human relationships, will be more powerful than what one can obtain through information technology, i.e. information.

Information (e.g. skills, abilities) is a means to obtain assets (i.e. economic value). The means for obtaining information is changing over from education to information technology. On the other hand, society will move towards a situation in which economic value comes to be shared along axes of relationships between friends, which involve trust and evaluation.

However, this book looks at things like personal connections, human relations, and reputation as factors of production and treats them as a “means” in the same way that information is. But I think that human relationships (i.e. the social world) are an end goal and not a means.  

 I think, in fact, that it used to be the case that people made human relationships and reputation the goal of their lives rather than having property centered around information as their goal. That is, couldn’t we escape from this modern era to the past by using technology to strengthen our ties, be less busy, and extend our lives?

 This book says that in the U.S. in the 1880s, half of all people in their 80s worked. I think the era of 100-year lifespans will be like this. This, too, may be a form of returning to the past.

 The book also makes the case that we won’t be able to predict the consistency of life or the growth of the economy from now on. This is also unrelated to the era of 100-year lifespans, but it’s a warning to people that they should get ready to live longer under uncertain conditions. The younger generation seems pretty good at living flexibly and however they see fit, even without having this explained to them by adults.

Really, though: is lacking the possibility of forecasting growth and stability the sole province of a single generation in a developed nation like the one a business school professor (i.e. me) lives in? When I was born 55 years ago, they could foresee a fairly stable and growing future for Japan, but the generation 55 years before that was born after the Russo-Japanese war into a life with earthquakes, a depression, incidents, war, defeat, and restoration.

 Since self-awareness is important for coping with upheaval, and what supports self-awareness is education, this book argues that online education MOOCs are significant. I also agree with this. However, what’s important here is not the behavior of the provider of education but instead the willingness of the user who studies. We should organize an environment that supports the ambition to learn.  

The authors’ observation that existing educational institutions are driven not to lose in their competition with MOOCs is a manifestation of their sense of an impending crisis. While this sense is correct, at the same time it looks like we can expect situations in which the MOOCs will win. I expect that education using information technology, including MOOCs, will completely overturn the educational environment.

In the preface to the Japanese edition, Japan is noted as a trailblazing model because it is the first nation to achieve longevity and an aged society. I certainly hope that we can live up to the expectations.


iUniversity Manifesto

  iUniversity is a new university specializing in information and communications technology (ICT). I am creating a school that has no precedent anywhere in the world.
We have a number of actions that we have decided to take, and endeavors that we will be taking on. All of these are outlined in this manifesto.

1. Actions
The following are five measures that we will implement.
As I have already described these on my blog, I will omit the explanations of each measure here.

1) English-language education that incorporates ICT and business
2) The Pre-Career University: Internships and business projects for all students, in cooperation with ICT companies
3) A teaching staff made up of professionals who have played significant roles in the industry
4) Combining online education with active learning
5) Two Tokyo campuses (Sumida and Takeshiba) located in between the international airports

2. Endeavors
The following are five challenges that we will be taking on, and things we would like to implement.

1) Global intellectual hub
We will strive to be a “Hub University” that accumulates and disseminates knowledge from around the world. We will have 100 leading global figures, world-class experts, and businesspeople as visiting professors, and offer online courses.

2) Jobs for all students
We will establish i K.K., a company that all of our students will be able to join. Instructors and students will engage in business, in partnership with the industry at large.

3) Every student will launch their own business
For each student, launching a business will be a part of the curriculum. Each student will have a chance to start up a business, and we will provide funding. Even if the business fails, that will be OK. Of course, the goal will be to succeed, and/or to reach the exit strategy.
4) Special Educational Zone
We will create a Campus Special Educational Zone. The Takeshiba area has already been designated a National Strategic Special Zone, and we will expand this to encompass education.
We are considering measures including: making our educational content copyright-free; relaxing the requirements that overseas students face with regard to attending school and finding employment; and exempting companies that are started here from corporate taxes.

5) Global Campus Passport

We will strengthen our partnerships with the world’s leading universities, and introduce credit transferability, double degrees, and a passport that will enable access to foreign university campuses (including libraries, cafeterias, facilities, and equipment).


Special characteristics of “iUniversity”

 In the year 2020 in Tokyo, I will establish an ICT professional school “iUniversity”, and become its president.
 I will lay out its special characteristics here.

1 ICT education
 In regards to education in the ICT field, in programing, information processing, etc. which shall become the warp thread. The parent organization, Japan Electronics Academy has a foundation gained over a 66-year period. Its cornerstones are its 110,000 graduates that are sent out into the business world, its track record, and trust.

2 Platform
 The weft thread, or business world will be to conduct hands-on education starting with the CiP Association, in addition to collaborating with IT related consortiums, and working with numerous enterprises. We will welcome about 100 professionals, such as front line business people, as guest professors. By doing so, our capabilities as a business-academic collaborative platform will be realized.

3 A college where you learn on your own
 While providing a virtual learning environment where you can learn at any time or any place, and by having all students with internships, there will have a combination of real, on the scene training, virtual training and an English-centric course environment. This is the infrastructure that will be prepared. On top of this, we will create a money-earning environment. By having all students gone for internships, they will aim to further the companies they work at, and then create their own businesses. There will collaborate with funds that will support the new businesses students create.

4 Test bed 
 We will make use of National Strategic Special Zones or “CiP”. The ICT will be located in Tokyo Bay area in Takeshiba. Digital enterprises, domestic and international universities such as Keio University and Stanford University will participate in the “CiP” framework that will be implemented for the easing of various restrictions on radio waves, the IoT, robot, and new businesses. The school will play a core roll to conduct experiments and proofs based on a business-academic collaboration.

5 A digital super school
 In April 2017, I presented on the “digital super school” concept.
 “I imagined a ‘digital super school’”

 iU will endeavor to its fullest to meet these challenges. Its concept is to create a super college from the following ten points plan, and a community that has surpassed the school framework. iU will present the foundation and system, and head towards its realization.
1)    Technology driven education and  research
2)    Digitally specialized education and research
3)    Implementation in priority areas
4)    Integration of arts and sciences
5)    Virtual and the real
6)    Based on real projects
7)    World class education
8)    Learn on the job
9)    Diversity
10)National Strategic Special Zones

 This is the challenge. I am looking forward to your support.