Global Citizenship: Technology Is Rapidly Dissolving National Borders

Besides your passport, what really defines your nationality these days?

Is it where you were live? Where you work? The language you speak? The currency you use?

If it is, then we may see the idea of “nationality” quickly dissolve in the decades ahead. Language, currency and residency are rapidly being disrupted and dematerialized by technology.

Where you live, where you work…

Increasingly, technological developments will allow us to live and work almost anywhere on the planet… (and even beyond).

Soon, you’ll be able to live in the Greek Islands and work in Manhattan, London, and Los Angeles.

Telepresence & Virtual Environments

Today I use telepresence robots to telecommute around the globe, attend an XPRIZE meeting in India, or if I’m overseas, pop home for breakfast or dinner with my kids.

The product I personally use comes from Suitable Technology and is called the “Beam.” I have about 15 beams across my different companies, and I’ll be integrating another 20 beams into my Abundance 360 Summit.

Beyond these telepresence technologies, the biggest impact on dematerializing nationality will come from development of fully immersive, high fidelity, virtual worlds. Virtual workplaces you plug into using VR gear to interact with other virtual workers (perhaps even A.I.’s) on a daily basis.

The earliest example of a virtual world where people were “living” and “working” is Phillip Rosedale’s Second Life.

You can think of it as a proof of concept, an early prototype of what is coming.

Think of it as pong, compared to today’s video games.

Even as rudimentary as Second Life is today, its annual revenues have reached US$567 million, and since its inception, it has transacted over US$3.5 Billion as people build and sell virtual products in this virtual world. Not bad…

But what is coming next will be transformational.

With the creation of new VR technologies (Oculus Rift technology, Samsung Gear) and 360-degree camera technology (Immersive Media, Jaunt), we’ll be able to slide on a pair of Goggles and “go” anywhere in the real and virtual world.

Companies will forgo bricks and mortar, and instead allow its work-force, from around the world, to beam into the same environment and work cooperatively. Think about a ‘kinder-gentler ‘ version of The Matrix.

What language you speak…

We are headed toward a world where everyone will have the tools to speak every language, in real time.

Right now, Google Translate does a damn good job. The system built by Franz Och at Google over the last decade can now support translation between 80 language pairs. (Note: Franz is now heading machine learning at Human Longevity Inc, where he is helping to translate between the languages of genetics, phenotype and metabolome.)

In 2013, Google stated that Translate served 200 million people daily.

Another more recent example of simultaneous translation, this time between spoken word, is Skype’s recently announced “Live Translate.”

Skype’s embedded artificial intelligence promises to translate your voice into another language in close to real-time while you are video-Skyping someone else on the other side of the planet (right now, it only serves English/Spanish translations).

The bottom line: Star Trek universal translator is here and it’s going to be a game-changer.

What currency you use…

Decentralized, unregulated cryptocurrencies (like bitcoin) will make it MUCH easier to trade and transact both across and within borders.

While this year hasn’t been so great for bitcoin, the fact is, cryptocurrencies are here to stay and will find more and more useful applications.

Take the recent Russian ruble crisis for example.

In Q4 2014, the ruble had a rapid devaluation due to political instability and the crashing price of oil, ending up at a 14-year low.

So what happened?

Russians have started pouring money into bitcoin.

In mid-December 2014, CNBC reported, “Transaction volumes between the ruble and digital currency bitcoin enjoyed their biggest day of the year. This was close to a 250 percent increase in transactions.”

Bitcoin dematerializes the banks, and demonetizes transaction fees. It is global and unregulated. And it is easy to use.

With these characteristics, we will see a shift away from national currencies toward global cryptocurrencies that provide some level of stability and independence from your country’s political turmoil, or whether your country’s GDP is based on oil exports.

Consequences for the Entrepreneur/CEO

We live in the most exciting time ever. In my mind, a borderless world will be a more creative, lucrative, healthy, and frankly, exciting one.

Especially for entrepreneurs.

A world where you, as an entrepreneur can now become a ‘multinational corporation’, accessing 5 billion potential customers.


[image credit: Suitable Technologies]

Peter H. Diamandis, MD
Peter H. Diamandis, MD
Diamandis is the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and operating large-scale incentive competitions. He is also the executive founder and director of Singularity University, a global learning and innovation community using exponential technologies to tackle the world’s biggest challenges and build a better future for all. As an entrepreneur, Diamandis has started over 20 companies in the areas of longevity, space, venture capital, and education. He is also co-founder of BOLD Capital Partners, a venture fund with $250M investing in exponential technologies. Diamandis is a New York Times Bestselling author of two books: Abundance and BOLD. He earned degrees in molecular genetics and aerospace engineering from MIT and holds an MD from Harvard Medical School. Peter’s favorite saying is “the best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”
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