The Weird Factor Accelerating Our FIRE Plans

The Weird Factor Accelerating Our FIRE Plans

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When we first became aware of the concept of FIRE, naturally we wanted it immediately because of the freedom to travel, to get time to spend time with family and to watch the children grow. These things are best done when young (and kids are only cute for a while :D) so there was that sense of urgency to achieve FIRE.

But as our thoughts and the world around us developed further, there came another reason why we’re very focused on ensuring that we achieve FIRE as soon as possible. What is it you wonder?

Lifting lines off the movie, The Graduate:

SippingCoconuts: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.

You: Yes, sir.

SippingCoconuts: Are you listening?

You: Yes, I am.

SippingCoconuts: Robots

Why robots?

There is this pretty utopian idea that one day no human needs to work, because all work can be done by robots/machines. So that people can still live, there will be universal basic income or at least some other form of provision by the “state”. People would still be free to work and get paid for their output or just do it out of passion.

However, the process of transitioning from the current world to the utopian world will come with disruption to the labour market and there will be people falling through the cracks. You can already see this happening with retrenchments going on as less complex jobs are automated or taken over by machines.

Today in 2017, if a person is retrenched, they can still be a taxi driver or start a food cart/hawker stall, as examples. But with autonomous vehicles and robots being invented to prepare and cook food, even these “backup” jobs may disappear within years, rather than decades. Once that happens, it’s a matter of moving automation up the ladder of job complexity. Junior lawyers are already being replaced by IBM’s Watson to perform the research legwork.

When the time comes for your job to be replaced by a robot, would you rather be financially independent or still dependent on your job for sustenance?

We at SippingCoconuts for one, do not want to be forced to start fresh in a new role (I do want to try new jobs at my own pace, maybe be a rocket engineer, or bio hacker, or fish farmer :D. Will blog about our dreams next time) or take on a low paying job (because that is less likely to justify the capital investment for automation) just to survive.

So the question is….when the robots come, do you want to be the landlord or the serf? Robot owner (company shareholder) or be a target for automation (employee)?

This may seem a bit scary. However, worry not as SippingCoconuts is here to provoke some thoughts for your long term planning! Do share in the comments below your stories and any strategies you have to deal with our increasingly disrupted world. 🙂


Author: Mr.C

Mr.C – our resident investment expert and the muscle behind this entire movement for Sipping Coconuts. When his nose is not buried in anything financial, he’s either sailing or cooking or with the kids and always with a beer or a coconut nearby!

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7 Replies to “The Weird Factor Accelerating Our FIRE Plans”

  1. Hi Mr K,

    I am with you on this one.
    That’s why saving a portion of the income is very very important. Even if you can’t reach FI yet, being halfway there would mean less desperation for a job when laid off.

    One could then pursue something more interesting (albeit slightly lower income) with peace of mind.

    1. Hey Mr.15HWW. Yes, having savings would mean more peace of mind. In a way a person gets more options too as you said, because the next job can be driven by interest than just the paycheck.

      Things are so quickly disrupted now. I’m riding Obikes (it’s a bike sharing Co for peeps outside sg) and thinking of those uncles who operate bike rental shops in the national parks. They’re probably having much less business, if any, and need to reinvent themselves. Not fun. And this change just came out of the blue.

      Thanks for commenting!

      P/s: it’s Mr.C (I’m a conventional coconut) and Ms. K (she’s a nuttier Kokonut)…haha.

  2. Hi Mr C,

    I really think those bike rental shops are in quite a bad shape. Guess they can no longer rent out the typical bikes. Maybe they have to focus on two seaters, family rides or even E-scooters to survive. Definitely a big cut on their profits.

    All right, shall make a mental note to differentiate C & K.

    1. Haha, thanks. Btw there’s already two companies that I know of doing escooter sharing around the CBD/Central area! Winter is coming.

  3. Agree that one day robots might eventually replace our jobs! But I tend to think that’s a shift in the economic reliance, no? I mean computer and IT related jobs were only created like half a century ago and that created an entire new sphere of sub jobs and industries and with proliferation of robotics in future, that would create some new jobs (e.g. Engineering will be in high demand). I think the key is that whether we can reskill ourselves soon enough in the new economy.

    1. Hi Kate, yes new job categories will be created same as before. Off the top of my head, there are at least two difference. First is the pace of change used to be driven by human innovation but if AIs are designing new AIs and robots, the change could come faster than even the most motivated person is able to adapt. (not saying now, but could be 10 years, could be 50 years).

      Then there’s the human element. Reskilling and upgrading is definitely the way to go, but each person has a limited set of capabilities, attitudes and willingness. What if someone is just not competitive enough whether by choice or personal capability? If the future needs rocket science level maths as the entry level requirement, I’d definitely try to learn…but I sure hope I’m FI by then or there’s universal basic income.

  4. I’m reminded of a portion of the movie called Hidden Figures which came out in 2016. A thought-provoking and heartening movie all in all in every aspect based on a true story. The portion am reminded of is when the IBM computers were going to take over the job of the mathematicians and led by the most proactive of the mathematicians, the mathematicians upskilled themselves and learnt programming and when the cut-over took place there was a ready set of staff ready to to fill the newly minted Programming Department. Change is inevitable and so is the pace of change, what we choose to do with ourselves is entirely up to us. Achieve FI, up-skill, re-skill, move to a place where technology will take longer to reach?

    Just on the movie again, it explores other themes as well, primarily the struggles of African-American professional women in the 1960s. Brilliant movie.

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