In a world facing more and more turmoil and inequality, the super-rich may be held to account for their impact on the world and may be increasingly expected to use their wealth to support people who are disempowered or in peril.
How the scenario could unfold
In this scenario, we work with the dramatic increase of inequality where the super rich amass wealth equivalent to some countries. We illustrate a scenario where it is publicly well known that a small group of people hold enough financial power to make key changes in the world, which would drastically reduce injustice. They amass amounts of money that could eradicate malaria, reforest whole nations, restructure economies to be fairer and more sustainable, develop green infrastructure, create innovative green energy technologies and lift entire nations out of poverty.
The absurdity of a situation where unelected individuals have the power to change the world to such an extent is amplified by increased global transparency, which could make public knowledge of the identity of these individuals, how they have come into wealth and what could be done with that wealth.
While the world watches these people gain their wealth, they may also watch a ruthless upturn of ecological systems that could disrupt huge swathes of civilisation by means of flooding, drought, mass extinction, mass migration and resource wars. The tension in this inequality may rise.
What might that mean for Adrian?
For Adrian, the value they take from their wealth is about their ability to live how they want and to invest it in ways that will express who they are. They want to make a mark on the world in a way that will reflect the strength of their character and their values rather than simply making money. We explore how services may evolve around people’s relationship with their wealth.
I invest where I think the most positive change can be made fastest. I’m concerned about how I’ll be remembered by my grandkids.
AI could advance to levels that would allow sophisticated understanding of people’s emotions. If that information is coupled with financial behaviours or organisational objectives it could transform how value is assigned to our services and our experiences.
Adrian has spent the last 13 years of his life building a private airline brand. In the last year, he has searched for philanthropic opportunities for investing his wealth because his daughter lectured him about societal responsibility during the holidays after taking an ethics course.
His happiness comes from knowing that his daughter will do well in life and that he has been a good father. He believes that people must achieve something every single day to feel useful. He does his utmost to stay busy, so he never dwells on an issue or gets annoyed. The biggest barrier to his happiness is a lack of time. He has created enough power to ensure his daughter will live well, but he’s concerned that the world won’t be worth living in by the time she gets older.
Adrian’s goals are to use wealth and time wisely, and with a purpose, beyond just making more money. He also wants to align his business values with his own personal values. His happiness is dependent on impacting the world positively and not being seen simply as wealthy.
Explorations in ‘Wealth legacy’
We explore the future by producing service visions (i.e. concepts of service) that respond to the needs of someone like Adrian in the scenario of ‘Wealth legacy’. Sometimes, these service visions articulate provocative or even implausible caricatures of services, but provocation and implausibility often stimulate the dialogue that is needed for new strategies to emerge.
- What beneficial elements of these services could be fostered?
- What is already happening in some way?
- What harm may these services do?
- What might prevent services such as these proliferating?
- What cultures may develop around a landscape of services such as this?
Vbay is a crowdfunding platform where wealthy people can personally buy items that vulnerable people or humanitarian organisations require. You can build a profile and compare your actions to other people’s. You can also follow the impact you have made with one investment to fully ensure the intended transformation, perhaps through follow-up support and patronage.
As your relationships with groups develop, you are encouraged to share more than just financial resources and use the breadth of your powers to facilitate change in the world.
Our ‘Statue Server’ technology means that your achievements will remain forever for the world to see and remember.
Team: The Lab
Legacy helps wealthy people understand the impact they have had on the planet and shares the ways they have had a positive impact.
By connecting to a large variety of data sources about your business, investments and personal life, Legacy is able to estimate in a coherent dashboard the ways that you may have negatively contributed toward global warming. It then supports you in making investments in the world that help bring you back to a neutral position. From then on, all your investments help you take your place among world leaders of environmental vitality. Legacy is your route to a clean conscience and a place in history as someone who helped the planet survive.
Team: The Lab
These explorations depict an environment where it is widely considered that wealth can often come at a cost to others or to the environment. In this context of extreme inequality and climate-change-turmoil, wealthy people may have to respond to greater public pressure to use their financial power with more responsibility.
The services depicted encourage an egotistical response, offering to help people to repair damage caused to the world while elevating their public status. These services perpetuate neo-liberal, ‘silver-bullet’ ideas of international aid that frame the wealthy as heroes in a problematic way.
What is interesting about these explorations is that while wealth may still be adorned with a sense of glamour, it may well grow to be more widely considered as distasteful or obscene. These services frame a potential scenario where the brands of the wealthy (individuals or companies) may be increasingly driven to imbue ethical values and be forced to comply with them. We may see systems emerge to build transparency in commercial infrastructures and forensically monitor any claims made about the positive impact they have on the world.
While these systems are crude, if opposition to capitalism grows, then there may be mechanisms along these lines that act as some intermediate form of power shift during the potential turmoil of global economic restructuring.
Related to ‘Wealth Legacy’
Greencoin tracks your environmental impact. When you have a positive impact you earn Greencoin currency which can be spent on sustainable products.
Ethos learns, tracks and guides people’s behaviours to help them live more in line with their values and beliefs.