EU 2.0 The Information Exchange

Joanna walked through border control at Charles de Gaulle airport, returning the smile of the uniformed officer at the doors leading to the Arrivals hall.

Freedom of Movement

There was no need for a visa as the airport system had verified her identity from her smart data and biometrics, and would be tracking that match as long as she was within their borders. When she crossed borders, even through the mountains, there would be a hand-off to their neighbours.

Glancing at her watch she saw that her driver would arrive at the pickup point in five minutes, and that it would take her four minutes to get there at her current pace. Her bags would be there before her, having gone from the cargo hold, through a security scanner, and by auto-porter to a secure point at the pickup. Arriving at the pickup point her watch indicated which car was hers, confirmed the driver details, and she embarked secure in the knowledge she was going where she wanted, with someone she trusted. Other travelers were climbing into driverless cars, but just as she preferred paper books to kindle, she found comfort in seeing a driver in front.

As her car took the most efficient route her watch buzzed to tell her that the café near her hotel would offer her a complementary pain de chocolat with her favourite espresso if she ordered it now. It would be in her room when she arrived, at no extra cost. She tapped her wrist and could already smell the aromatic bean she loved so much. It was wonderful to have this kind of service on her first trip to Paris.

The congestion was particularly bad this morning, and even though her driver had chosen the most effective route, she had to take a meeting in the car and could use the City WiFi to have the webconference. It was as good as being in a room with everyone, and meant that some of their brightest minds could live and work wherever they wanted. Their clients were also happy with the same remote work on their systems, building trusting relationships with people they had never met face to face. Joanna had never actually met her manager, an exceptionally wealthy man living in his tax haven of choice, directing his global organization. When you hire the best, you don’t care where they are, so long as they deliver.

Economies, of Scale

Joanna’s hotel staff were well prepared for their day hosting guests from around the world, and were able to minimize food and energy wastage by ordering in their fresh ingredients to meet the most likely meal choices of their guests, based on the information provided by their group analytics department, who are looking at recent trends in their type and location of hotel, and the historical consumption of their specific guests around the world. In the same way the hotel Concierge was able to suggest several sightseeing and cultural events based on their guests’ schedules and interests, and had already negotiated some group discounts based on the likelihood of acceptances. This enabled the theatre to also plan staffing and catering requirements for that evening.

The country’s hotel association was able to aggregate the trends in food preferences and demand for ingredients on a daily basis, placing orders with a high level of confidence on their suppliers across the world. At the same time, their supplier countries were able to extrapolate demand into the future, and feed that into their agricultural diversity planning. On that basis France was able to have negotiated preferential trade terms that included the exchange of goods, services, funds and information.

Information is the new currency.

Information had become one of France’s most valuable forms of ‘currency’ in trade negotiations, being a hub of cultural, business, economic and political diversity. Whereas the issue used to be about open borders and free movement of people, relationships between countries were increasingly negotiated on who could exchange or transfer what individual, demographic, trade, purchasing, cultural, movement and relationship information between types of business and country.

The currency of international relations and trade had become information, which had the potential to uplift the economies of free nations everywhere. Information sanctions had become ways of controlling renegade and corrupt governments, because if you couldn’t find your money, you weren’t wealthy and you couldn’t arm yourselves.

Joanna had come to Paris to attend her Insead graduation in person because, as with books and cars, she liked the personal touch. But she had done her entire post-grad project with a team of twenty global thought leaders, without ever leaving her beautiful village on the Thames River, while holding down an extremely demanding job and being available to her young children. Her children were already attending the High School of Stanford University from their home. They all had access to the best academic input in the world, regardless of government trade agreements.

Last week Amazon delivered some additional materials for a physics experiment that they had to perform, even though they hadn’t ordered it yet, and Amazon included extra glass dishes because they had found other students tended to order more once they started the experiment. Joanna had the option to return the dishes at no cost or inconvenience, but they did need them.

EU 2.0

A significant proportion of economic growth and political influence and safety and security is a consequence of good information, good judgement, and very good negotiation. This is not a futuristic view, it is already happening.

It is why I believe that changes in the EU do not spell disaster, but do require a new kind of treaty between nations, and those treaties will be different to anything we have seen before if the new order is to succeed. The design has to optimize use of the flood of data out there that has the power to change the world — Big Data. Structured data, unstructured data, social media streams, machine data — this is already being bought and sold as a commodity and used to sell you things you didn’t think you needed, introduce you to people you didn’t know were important to have in your network, suggest specific holidays and romantic partners, as well as music, TV and movies you would like. Imagine governments harnessing that for the good of the nation, continent and world.

Every website you register on, every cookie you accept, every app and game you install, your fitbit, your gps, gmails, google docs, gmail attachments, tweets, your car, contactless card, ATM usage, new online friend or connection, online and offline shopping, restaurant use and meal preference, towns you visit, countries you pass through or comment on — it is all gathered, stored, analysed, sold, or otherwise traded at some or other aggregated level.

It is endless, and can all be used for good, or for harm.

Hopefully for good. Everyones’ good.

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