copenhagen: tackling the future

Posted on February 3, 2006



by sabine behrmann

illustration via uncertainty park

Predictions are a tricky thing, especially when they deal with the future: that’s what Danes will tell you when they know that it is a good idea not to commit themselves, and there is no reason to disbelieve them.

However, they do share the general curiosity about what time will bring with a big part of mankind and are prepared to read more than their daily horoscopes. Tea leaves are consulted, just like clairvoyants, hands, noses, toenails – and coffee grounds.

But nothing is as entertaining for the nation as the predictions ventured by the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. This year they have published a list about all the things that will have disappeared by the year 2020. Three of them are cash, romance, and moonlighting.

Project manager Niels Bøttger-Rasmussen argues that credit cards and other means of handling money electronically will make bank notes obsolete. This will lead to the end of moonlighting because there will be no way of paying people for their services.

Since Bøttger-Rasmussen holds a degree in economics as well as in political science his prediction astounds me. His reasoning will either make all unlawful activity disappear in 2020 or else nobody will pay taxes anymore.

It stands to reason that money transactions facilitated by a bank and traceable by everybody who at that time will have access to these data (e.g. the Inland Revenue) will make it very hard indeed to circumvent taxation. However, there will always be people with urges, drives, needs, or desires that have at least a touch of the illegal.

Some of these desires can be fulfilled by moonlighting – and if the sovereign will not provide the means to pay for it we can count on the ingenuity of the individual to find a substitute.

No substitute will end romance, though.

At the CIFS they argue that people already use on-line dating agencies, and will increase their use of these helpers. In order to find the right partner men and women will go to the hunt for him or her in the same way as companies that want to hire qualified employees. You’ll meet for a couple of interviews, take a test – and Bob’s your uncle.

Romance can be slightly chaotic, messy, and unpredictable. It does not really match present ideas of efficiency and neatness. And yet the success rate of going about the mating business in this way is more than 50 %.

When recruiting the right person for a job 80 % of the decisions are made because the applicant’s skills match the bill. But when it is time for company and employee to parts ways 80 % of the reasons for this are purely personal.

Chances are that in 2020 we will find romance while moonlighting. But find it we will.