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Life after Google and the threat to the accounting profession

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We’re entering a world where technology could eliminate lawyers, accountants and bankers. The solution – as we’ve said before – is more specialisation in areas where this technology won’t reach.

Before we get onto the book review of Life after Google, by George Gilder, let me remind you of the various ways to specialise in SA Institute of Business Accountants (Saiba) accounting licences (such a immigration, business rescue and so on), which you can read about here.

Now to the book Life after Google. If you think the future will look anything like 2019, with companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix dominating the market… Gilder says, forget it… that’s dead wrong.

Forget the dotcoms. They are yesterday’s news, says Mark Palmer of Stannsberry Research in a review of the book.

Gilder believes something bigger and more radical has just started to take hold around the globe, and it has nothing to do with robots, artificial intelligence (AI), or self-driving cars.

George Gilder’s new book is called Life After Google. What’s clear from this is that the tech companies that dominate today are very unlikely to be on top a decade from now. Youtube, Google and Facebook have developed into monsters that now censor content and searches. That’s a truly dangerous development.

Most people may find this hard to believe, but Gilder explains how this is a natural part of business, technology, and economic evolution.

As Gilder says: “Ten years ago the biggest corporations in the world by market cap were Exxon, Walmart, the Petroleum Bank, China Petroleum and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

“Ten years later, the top four companies in the world are Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft by market cap. I mean, who would have predicted that? And I believe that in the next ten years, there will be a similar turnover.”

In short, the Google era is coming to an end. Gilder says that one of the reasons why this is happening is that companies like Google and Facebook have a flawed business model.

With both Google and Facebook, just about everything is free… email, search, messaging and storage. This will be one of the reasons for their downfall. As Gilder reports:

“So what’s wrong with free? It is always a lie, because on this earth nothing, in the end, is free. You are exchanging incommensurable items. For glimpses of a short video… you agree to watch an ad long enough to click it closed. Instead of paying — and signaling — with the fungible precision of money, you pay in the slippery coin of information and distraction.”

“Of all Google’s foundational principles, the zero price, is apparently its most benign. Yet it will prove to be not only its most pernicious principle but the fatal flaw that dooms Google itself… Google’s insidious system of the world will be swept away.”

But a flawed business model is really just the beginning.

Gilder says there are developments on the near horizon in which blockchain technology (or what’s known as the “open distributed ledger”) becomes the future, because it protects your private data, allows every user safe and immediate access to that data, and creates millions of new ways for people to interact and do business, which will flip our current ideas of work and business on their heads.

Gilder calls this new world: The Cryptocosm, and it will take us to “a world beyond Google.”

“The new architecture provides alternatives to today’s insecure Internet, this porous Web where Equifax or Yahoo can lose hundreds of millions of items of personal data in a nonce, and the 5 Internet leviathans all just demand more passwords and user names. All these disorders of our money and our information technology may find remedies in the new cryptocurrency movement that began in 2009 with Satoshi and bitcoin and will end with the new technologies.”

Gilder says new Cryptocosm technologies will allow for, among many other things, “smart contracts,” which could eliminate lawyers, accountants, and bankers who don’t get on board.

Gilder interviewed Vitalik Buterin, the founder of the blockchain company Ethereum, who says: “The Internet tended to displace workers doing routine work on the edge of the system; the blockchain tends to disintermediate executives in the center. The Internet displaced the jobs of taxi drivers; the blockchain may displace Uber.”

There’s already a company called Swarm, which is attempting to enable cab drivers to transact directly with their customers through a cooperative scheme on the blockchain.

Many companies and corporations could disappear, and new ones will be created. The new businesses that will emerge you’ve never heard of: like DigixDAO of China, Jonetix of California, and IOTA from Norway, just to name a few.

All this is likely to happen with incredible speed. Tech companies, it seems, have a 20-year life span at their peak. Apple will still be around 20 years from now, but it will have been eclipsed by one or 10 of these new players.