Technology Is Rapidly Retiring the Notion of Retirement

“I wish I hadn’t said that. I was probably thinking of what I would feel like. Now, there’s what I actually feel like, and those are two different things.” Those were the words of Bill Belichick last year. The words he wished he hadn’t uttered were from years ago, when the now 71-year old Belichick said he wouldn’t be coaching in his 70s.

How things change. And this is a good thing. Retirement is vanishing before our eyes. Probably in the lifetimes of our children it will take on dated, past tense connotations like the telephone booth. One can only hope. People are happier when they’re doing.

So why is retirement vanishing? For one, it’s apparent that healthcare advances are growing by leaps and bounds. Andy Kessler has long been writing about Menlo Park, CA corporation Grail. It can increasingly detect all manner of cancers before they become a problem so that they can be dealt with before they become a problem. More broadly, Kessler writes in a more predictive sense of “magic pills” that will swiftly take care of what used to quickly kill us.

Are you doubtful? You shouldn’t be. As I pointed out in When Politicians Panicked, back in the 19th century cancer killed very few Americans. It didn’t not because we were healthier then, but because tuberculosis, pneumonia (“Captain of Man’s Death”), and other diseases killed us long before cancer could.

In which case it’s in no way pie-in-the-sky to say that the only barrier to cures for the forms of cancer that kill us is knowledge. Keep the latter in mind with the proliferation of thinking machines top of mind. Machines that increasingly do for us have showered us with staggering abundance, but imagine if they can think for us? It just means that brilliant human minds armed with mechanized genius at their sides will arrive at the information necessary to render cancer yesterday’s killer much sooner than was perhaps originally thought.

What it signals is that we’ll work quite a bit longer because we will live quite a bit longer in much better shape. Belichick’s assertion that he wouldn’t be coaching in his 70s was rooted in what 70s used to signify. It’s a moving target, and it’s moving in a way that renders 70s younger and younger as knowledge grows and grows. Why retire when you’re enjoying what you do, and enjoying it in healthful fashion?

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. What will think and do for doctors will also think and do for most other professions. As Vinod Khosla has said, the rise of AI will automate 80% of 80% of jobs. Brilliant! Think about it.

Imagine how much more productive we’ll all be if machines can reduce the burden of 80% of what we do? What’s described won’t put us out of work anymore than robots of earlier times like the tractor, car, computer, and internet didn’t put us out work. Past advances rendered us much better at work because they enabled our individual specialization.

Think about the above as robots take on 80% of your load in the future. Are there certain aspects of work that are more or less agreeable than others? Hopefully all readers are nodding their heads, much as Belichick, Nick Saban and other football savants would. It just means that in addition to making our work much more productive, automation will make our work much, much better. Such is the genius of specialization.

The only thing is that if we’re happy at work, and healthier too, logic dictates that we’ll not want to stop working. Why would we?

What’s exciting is that market signals support this beautiful future. While retirement “experts” paint a dire picture of not enough savings (if you doubt this, just Google “retirement crisis”), the reality is that slower saving for 65 and beyond just signals confidence among workers that they don’t intend to stop at 65, and likely not at 75 or 85.

Yes, there’s a technological assault on retirement, it’s a beautiful one, and the only individuals seemingly not aware of it are retirement experts. Rather than listen to the experts, readers will better understand the future by watching Bill Belichick.

Republished from RealClear Markets


  • John Tamny

    John Tamny is a popular speaker and author in the U.S. and around the world. His speech topics include "Government Barriers to Economic Growth," "Why Washington and Wall Street are Better Off Living Apart," and more.

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