What’s Next? Five Predictions About The Future

by Randy Murray on August 2, 2010

When I named this blog, I wanted to focus not only on getting grounded and doing good work today, but becoming prepared for the future.  This week, let’s concentrate on the future.

Vernor Vinge, mathematician and writer, proposed in a paper to NASA in 1993 that the rate of increase in technology might bring us to a “Singularity,” a point at which the changes would become so rapid and so extreme that beyond that point, nothing is predictable. Everything changes. At that time he predicted it to be 30 years away. There’s been much discussion about this, but I recommend his original paper. It’s both thrilling and frightening. There’s a great deal of argument over the Singularity, also know as the “rapture of the nerds” and it’s worth thinking about.

But tomorrow is always unpredictable. We don’t have to create prophesies about the end of the human era to understand that we really don’t have a clue what will happen in the next moment.

Let’s start with something simple: plan to live more than 100 years.

My wife and I sat down with our financial planners the other day. They proudly presented us with a scenario where we had an 80% chance of having enough money to carry us through if we died at 90, but not ending up with much in reserve. That sounded pretty good to them.

But not to me. What if medical science has a few small breakthroughs in the next 40 years and 90 suddenly isn’t decrepit old age; 90 could be just another milestone? I fully expect that in the next 50 years that 90, even 100 won’t be old at all. I don’t know what the limits are, but 90 is far too young to be running out of retirement funds.

I asked them to recalculate based on no predicted death date and come up with a plan to generate perpetual funds at whatever level that was possible. The younger planner scratched his head, then set the date to 100, made a few other changes, and got us a 90% probability to have enough funds to reach that point. He couldn’t imagine a world where his clients would routinely live beyond 100 years, but he’d better start thinking that way.

Are you thinking that way? If you’re young, you might not be thinking about retirement at all. That’s OK. Why retire if you’re in good health and enjoy what you do? But if you want the freedom to pursue things that might not earn you a living, or perhaps a full living, you’ll need to prepare your finances to allow that.

Think about having time in your life. Don’t be in such a hurry. Carve out a section to really learn something. Apprentice yourself to develop deep skills and understanding. Master a trade, an art form. Then do it all again.

Even if you don’t get a hundred years or more, it’s an excellent way to live.

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The What’s Next? Five Predictions About The Future by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 missy August 2, 2010 at 8:30 am

Great post. I don’t think that many people try to get themselves to 100. Or if they do, it’s only through their words, not their actions.


2 Randy Murray August 2, 2010 at 8:38 am

Thanks, Missy.

So many of us live only for today, just trying to get thorough, survive. But if you take a breath and ask yourself, “what’s the hurry?”, you might enjoy life a bit more, slow down, and really live life.


3 Hal Brown August 2, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I’ll never understand the living to keep on living mentality. Starting with my (the baby boom) generation and continuing forward is the incessant pursuit for the fountain of youth. It seems so simple - quality vs quantity.

Freud said:
Si vis vitam, para mortem
If you would endure life, be prepared for death.

And as we all know, you could be hit by a bus tomorrow. Sooner or later we all die. And that’s not a bad thing, unless fear of death makes living unbearable.


4 Randy Murray August 3, 2010 at 7:08 am

My point is that one’s quality of life might be maintained over time. If, short of being hit by a bus, you could think of your life as a full hundred years, strong, healthy years, how might you change the way you plan, alter the way you currently live?

With time, would one need to cram all of one’s “earning” years into that section between 20 and 65? Or might one make different choices, choose different careers and pursuits that could unfold over decades?


5 Hal Brown August 3, 2010 at 7:32 am

I hope you’re right. My greatest fear is living in a nursing home, held together by drugs and machines. It would be great to live to 100, healthy enough to be at home, and enjoy being alive.
A friend of mine died last year. He was 96 and even though he had a few problems, he was functional. One day he went out on his back porch, sat down and went to sleep. He simply never woke up. I hope to be this fortunate.
Very thought provoking post Randy.


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