Our emotions will integrate with the economy

In order to see the world, we must break with our familiar acceptance of it.

| 5 min read

As humans, we are still evolving.

Either evolve to realign with new values, or the social contract will be withdrawn.

An inflection point is approaching then, driven by necessity: What we measure no longer reflects what we value. But how have we got here? And why now in the human story?

Social emotional intelligence is one of the key advancements in recent human evolution, which helps us to empathise with – and so better understand – our societies, ourselves and our planet. The growing role of social emotional intelligence will now be critical to survival in any new economy or, looking further out, in a new or second renaissance, when it is likely that technological dogmas such as connectivity, speed and optimisation will be heavily supplemented with human relevance, purpose, engagement, relationships and self-realisation.

We see traces already

A challenge for the education system is educational relevance – the ability of the human spirit to adapt and thrive in a world of change, uncertainty and AI. A new framework of value will emerge, and one predicated upon a natural and human world that is not binary. Covid-19 for instance certainly illuminated the internal contradictions in our social structures when trying to think in binaries, such as the economy versus healthcare.

But everything is laid out by degrees of variation. We live and work in a world where the strength of the social fabric comes from its fluidity and diversity. Thinking in a non-binary way, such as viewing life as fundamentally ambiguous for example, does help to negotiate the complex field of experience - which includes navigating and redistributing wealth, equality, food and justice.

Investing more in intangible assets such as human and social capital will be crucial, especially for highly innovative firms and startups.

High income and growing pots of wealth where they exist have contributed to rising inequality, empowering populist leaders and diminishing trust, particularly in political institutions.

But what about hearts and minds? Mistrust in governments, businesses and the media is significantly increasing. Our digital world has made it easier to propagate false information, with the growing irrelevance of facts and the loss of a shared reality. And with the rise of disinformation, truth itself has become the target. A deeply worrying outcome for ourselves as humans – and for the kind of just society we might wish to live in. Investing more in intangible assets such as human and social capital will be crucial, especially for highly innovative firms and start-ups.

Societies crave innovative approaches that will empower and engage, rather than exploit and alienate. This in turn will revitalise local, as well as global partnerships for sustainable development, for example. The psychological and emotional drivers of why societies do what they do can help us to understand the direction they might be heading in. And if we project from where we currently stand, we see the further rise of a behavioural economy.

Moving on from The Internet of All Things

The data of our lives has been collected and stored by governments and corporations - what appears to be free is in fact an exchange of consumer data, exemplified by the Internet of All Things. It is not so much the consumer data of our lives that will be increasingly of interest. But rather our very human emotions and behaviours.

The Internet of All Things is likely to give way to the Internet of All Behaviours. And jobs, companies and economies will require new skills and competencies that can drive, interpret and respond to the behaviours of people. The technologies we use, and the tech breakthroughs that will come, are not only generating data about the digital and physical realms through which we move.

Much more significantly, we reveal more about our wishes and anxieties to search engines than to our families or friends. That’s extraordinary when we think about it. But ordinary practice now. What we are looking at here is the growing role of our emotions and behaviours in an economy that will be further built around the output of those emotions and behaviours.

It may be that in the future we will work less, and have more time to pursue leisure, which might possibly increase ‘happiness’ overall. This was a theory that was expounded long ago by Bertrand Russell, which has returned in debates about the future of society.

Nevertheless, with a longer-term perspective, and a deeper understanding of value and expressing that across professions, businesses and society at large, future innovations in turn are so much more likely to be inclusive and accessible to all – so that all spheres of life are beneficiaries.

Dr. Glenn Baker, Charles Stanley Wealth Managers

Glenn joined Charles Stanley in 2018 and builds relationships with professional advisers and their underlying client mix, including multi-generational families, entrepreneurs and business owners, Court of Protection mandates and charities. Glenn was previously a Director at Kleinwort Benson (2012-2017), before which he worked at Schroders Cazenove (2008-2012). Glenn sits on Charles Stanley’s Responsible Investment Committee, he is a Board Member on the Action for Animal Health Development Board for the international charity The Brooke, and Glenn holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Leicester.

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