Alexa, How Will Exponential Technologies Affect My Retirement?

exponential technology

Here’s a fun fact you may have seen as we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing:

An iPhone has approximately 100,000 times the processing power of the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC). It also has around 7 MILLION times more memory!

Heck, even the first graphing calculators your kids used in the late 1990s were more powerful than the AGC!

That’s just one more testament to the bravery of our first astronauts. But it’s also an amazing example of how exponential technologies continue to shape and reshape our world. Here’s how the next wave of breakthroughs could have a dramatic impact on your retirement.

Double the power, half the cost.

Way back in 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors you could pack onto a microchip would double every year while costs halved. Moore’s prediction proved so spot-on that it’s now commonly referred to as Moore’s Law. 50 years of doubled processing power and decreasing costs is why we all have phones that would have looked like supercomputers to Neil Armstrong in 1969!

Computer experts believe we’re nearing the end of how much more tech you can pack on a chip. But in a sense, exponential technologies carry on Moore’s Law: they’re technologies that continue to get twice as fast or twice as powerful every year, while also becoming half as expensive.

Imagining a better future.

You’ve probably read about some exponential technologies that are nearing mass availability to consumers, like virtual reality headsets, 3-D printers, and even driverless cars.

At the beginning of 2019, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology asked Bill Gates to choose some exponential technologies a little further out on the horizon that he was excited about. Among the incredible innovations Gates highlighted were:

  • Robots with human-like dexterity that can handle complex assembly and warehouse tasks.
  • A blood test that can tell expectant mothers if they’re at risk for premature delivery.
  • Pills that can work like cameras and screen our bodies without invasive procedures.
  • Lab-grown meat that tastes indistinguishable from the real thing. (Sorry, Mr. Gates, but I’m skeptical!)

What do these exponential technologies add up to? A world that spends less energy being more productive while generating more wealth and resources. A population of folks living longer, more active, more fulfilling lives. A society that’s better connected and nimbler when it comes to identifying potential problems and working together to solve them.

Building a better retirement.

When I first started out as a financial advisor nearly 27 years ago, I had two options for communicating with clients: the telephone, and the US postal service. Today, with a couple mouse clicks, I can send important info to the Keen Wealth community in a matter of seconds, and vice-versa. Anytime you read one of my newsletters or listen to one of my podcasts, you’re seeing how much exponential technology has improved financial advisory.

But behind the scenes, exponential technology is helping my Keen Wealth team plan for the future that Bill Gates and others are envisioning: a future where more and more retirees reach age 100 and need their nest eggs to keep pace with them.

Building better advisors.

This is where I think the greatest potential for exponential technology is: its ability to help human advisors like us do an even better job serving you.

Can I envision a future where we all say, “Siri, adjust my portfolio?” Sure, although, marketing hype aside, I don’t believe we’re there yet. In a recent study, Vanguard found that you’re still likely to get a greater return on investment working with a human financial advisor than you are going solo on a robo platform.

But exponential technology is never going to be able to empathize with an unexpected job loss or death in the family. It won’t be able to help you find a Medicare expert you can trust when your health care needs change. It won’t be able to walk your heirs through your estate plan so that they understand how you want your legacy carried out. It won’t be able to facilitate dialogue between you and your spouse that will prepare you both for the emotional challenges of retirement.

So no, I won’t be replacing my Keen Wealth team with robos and chatbots anytime soon. I know that what our clients really value is the personal level of service that only an expert fiduciary advisor can provide. The better that exponential technologies get at the raw number crunching, the more time we’re going to have to deliver those invaluable and irreplaceable human services.

Bill Keen: The next wave of breakthroughs could have a dramatic impact on your retirement.

About Bill

Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.

Keen Wealth Advisors is a Registered Investment Adviser. Nothing within this commentary constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Keen Wealth Advisors manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed here. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  

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